The National Association of Social Workers and the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter an filed an amicus brief in M.D. v. Abbott in the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit that could result in a nationally important decision on the constitutional rights of children in state custody.
M.D. v. Abbott is a class action lawsuit brought against the State of Texas by Children’s Rights, a national organization, on behalf of Texas foster children, suing for their right to be free from unreasonable risk of harm while in state custody. In January 2018, the federal District Court found in favor of the children in a 116-page order outlining the serious, systemic problems in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, leading to neglect and abuse over the past 20 years.
The judge ruled that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services needs to overhaul its foster care system and appointed a monitor to ensure that the Department implements the necessary remedies. In March 2018, the State appealed the final order arguing, in part, that the U. S. Constitution protects only the bodily integrity of children in its custody.
Our amicus brief focused on the importance of the caseworker’s role in promoting child safety, well-being and permanency and the difficulties that caseworkers face when they do not have adequate time and critical resources to effectively provide appropriate care, treatment, and services. The amicus brief also highlighted the importance of reasonable caseloads and workloads; caseworker qualifications; and the importance of outcomes, as well as outputs.
NASW members have access to NASW Legal Brief Database to read more about this and other cases.