PHOENIX — The United States District Court granted preliminary approval of a settlement agreement that would resolve a class action lawsuit filed against the Arizona Department of Child Safety in 2015 by Children’s Rights, Inc. This is according to a press release issued Oct. 14.
The agreement will benefit the state by avoiding costly, ongoing court oversight of its child welfare system, and will allow DCS to focus all of its attention and resources on further improving services for children and families.
Arizona has overhauled its child welfare system since the suit was filed, implementing critical improvements to ensure children in foster care receive the care necessary to address their needs.
“We are proud of the significant progress we have made as an agency over these past five years, but we also recognize that there is always room to improve,” said DCS Director Mike Faust. “We are committed to continuing our endeavors to improve the lives of Arizona’s children and families.”
DCS voluntarily committed to provide services and care that exceed current federal requirements, choosing to settle the case so the Department can concentrate its efforts on building upon the improvements of the past five years.
Under the mutually agreed-upon settlement terms, DCS must meet outcome requirements for providing timely behavioral and physical health services to children in care. In addition, DCS will work to decrease the number of children residing in congregate care settings and increase utilization of family-like placements. All of the actions and outcome requirements in the agreement are designed to further improve the lives of children in care, a goal that is also embodied in DCS’s current strategic plan.