The advocacy group’s attention has now shifted to whether recommendations for county child welfare reform and related court systems will be implemented.
“The track record for the county is not good,” said Bill Grimm, a senior attorney at the Oakland, Calif.,-based National Center for Youth Law, which filed the lawsuit and lobbies for the protection and care of foster children.
The settlement was approved by the Clark County Commission in mid-November, but it still needed final approval from the court. About $1.6 million will directly benefit the seven former foster children, while $500,000 will cover attorney fees and costs for plaintiffs’ counsel.
Clark County spent $1.4 million on attorney fees, which covered outside counsel, and other costs in defending the case.
The settlement follows a long legal battle over the county’s foster care system waged by the National Center for Youth Law and Morrison & Foerster LLP on behalf of their clients, the announcement said.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in 2010 and claimed the county’s child welfare agency failed to provide adequate care and safety for foster children.
A federal judge threw out the case, but a federal appeals court reinstated the suit in 2012.
The suit cited concerns with numerous aspects of the county’s child welfare system, including the use of psychotropic medications on children, reported physical and sexual abuse in foster homes, and the adequacy of Child Protective Services investigations.
The settlement was approved on March 21 by federal Judge Robert C. Jones. The money for each plaintiff ranges from $100,000 to $350,000, which has been deposited into annuities and trusts, Grimm said.
Four of the former foster children are still minors and may need to go to court for particular disbursements.
Now that the legal battle is over, the advocacy group’s attention has turned to the recently released report from a Nevada Blue Ribbon committee that recommends reforms to the county’s child welfare and court systems, Grimm said. The committee was appointed last fall by Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta to examine system shortcomings.
“A report gets issued … and when it comes to implementing the changes, very little ends up being done,” Grimm said.
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