Hennepin County Settles Class Action Lawsuit
Hennepin County recently settled a foster care class action lawsuit brought by A Better Childhood.
We largely shared the county’s view that they were already implementing many of the mandated remedies, and the legal fees could have been used for services.
But the agreement included some unexpected enhancements, including access to important new data. And, this highly visible settlement challenges other counties to make similar systemic reforms.
It also includes monitoring mechanisms that lock in recent County improvements. This addresses a chronic problem with government reforms – backsliding by future administrations.
For example, with limited exceptions Hennepin had already stopped interviewing children in the presence of alleged perpetrators. But the state Department of Human Services still prefers “whole family interviews”. Absent safeguards, pressures to resume that old practice could eventually prevail.
Next: Other key provisions of the settlement.
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