Bowser announces ‘new era’ for agency representing children in DC’s foster system after end of 31-year old lawsuit

Mayor Muriel Bowser is marking the end of a lawsuit filed more than 30 years ago on behalf of children in D.C.’s foster care system.

She calls it a “new era” for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.

The class action lawsuit was filed in 1989 on behalf of the children in the District’s foster care system and a settlement agreement to depart from the federal court’s oversight was agreed on last June, according to a news release.

Friday afternoon marked the one-year waiting period for validation of the settlement, making that the final status hearing of the case, the release said.

“The end of LaShawn v. Bowser is indicative of a collective, District-wide commitment to children and families,” said Bowser. “We have made it a priority to ensure CFSA is resourced and supported to carry out its mission to protect our most vulnerable children. The agency’s focus on family, love, and prevention means that child welfare in the District doesn’t look the same as it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Today, we are proud that it looks more like providing families the services they need to keep their children safe and well at home.”

The changes included the development of the values-based “Four Pillars” strategic framework,  approval of the District’s federal Five-Year Family First Prevention Plan, and implementation of a citywide prevention strategy.

Families First DC, CFSA has “steadfastly laid the groundwork for a transformation from a child welfare agency to a child and family well-being system,” the release said.

The CFSA is a member of the national Thriving Families, Safer Children movement.

“CFSA’s work ensuring the safety of children in the District does not end with LaShawn. As a proven self-regulating and self-correcting agency driven by data and quality, we will continue to improve our clinical practice,” said CFSA Director Robert L. Matthews. “The end of this lawsuit allows CFSA the bandwidth to focus on prevention with an even greater fidelity. Thriving Families, Safer Children is the next era for child welfare.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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