M.D. v. Perry, Civil Action No. 2:11-CV-84

Texas’s foster care system is broken, and it has been that way for decades. It is broken for all stakeholders, including DFPS employees who are tasked with impossible workloads. Most importantly, though, it is broken for Texas’s PMC children, who almost uniformly leave State custody more damaged than when they entered.”

—From decision of Judge Janis Graham Jack, Senior U.S. District Judge of the Senior District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division (emphasis added)

Marcia Robinson Lowry, Executive Director of A Better Childhood and Co-Lead Counsel on M.D. v. Perry, issued the following statement on Judge Janis Graham Jack’s decision in that case finding the state of Texas has systematically violated the constitutional rights of children in the state’s foster-care system

“This is a stunning, historic decision, both for children in Texas and for children throughout the country. I have initiated, led, and supervised at least 20 foster-care lawsuits, and the conditions we found in the Texas foster-care system were among the most appalling I have ever seen. These horrendous conditions, combined with the utter lack of accountability and the state’s long-standing failure to even acknowledge these harms, let alone address them, have ruined the lives of far too many children.

“The court, in an extremely well-documented opinion, has examined in depth the structural deficiencies that led to the serious harm to children and then provides a court-enforceable remedy that will get to the heart of the problem. Judge Janis Graham Jack finds that ‘Because of the complexity and breadth of reforms that are required to bring DFPS in compliance with the Constitution, it would be impractical for the Court to craft and oversee each necessary change. As a more effective and flexible alternative, the Court will appoint an independent Special Master to help craft the reforms and oversee their implementation.’”

“We hope that Judge Jack’s decision finally marks a new day for the abused and neglected children of Texas, who have been some of the worst-treated foster children in the country. And we hope that the state will act immediately to correct the harms to children that the judge identified in her opinion. It is too bad that the state has been fighting so long and so hard to avoid facing up to what it has known for far too long—that Texas children have been unable to depend on the state to protect them and needed a federal court to step in and order it to do its job.”

A Better Childhood (ABC) is a national child-welfare advocacy organization that represents foster children in dysfunctional child welfare systems. In Texas, Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry is co-lead counsel along with Texas law firms Yetter Coleman and Haynes and Boone and with Children’s Rights. Lowry is also lead counsel in a federal class-action foster-care lawsuit against the New York City foster-care system that was filed this summer. She is also lead counsel in foster-care lawsuits in Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia.

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Memorandum Opinion and Verdict of the Court

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