Settlement approved in California foster care, mental health, case

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The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California gave final approval December 5 to a settlement that requires the state to overhaul its system for providing mental health services to more than 61,000 children in foster care.

“This agreement will improve children’s access to mental health care and lower government costs. But, the hard work of doing what is promised in the Agreement remains,” stated Patrick Gardner, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, in a news release from the National Health Law Program.

The settlement, announced in October, requires the state to create standards, training and monitoring to ensure that all of the state’s counties are working to ensure that mental health services. The settlement contains a three-year timetable for creating the program.

A range of disability advocacy groups filed a class-action lawsuit in 2002, following years of reports of neglect in the nation’s largest foster care program. The other advocacy groups involved in the litigation were  Disability Rights California, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, , Western Center on Law and Poverty and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Disability Rights California is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.