Other States Also Sued By Child Advocates

Thursday, February 14th 2008, 7:32 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma isn't the first state the Children's Rights group has sued.  News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports Children's Rights' name says it all.  It aims to give a voice to the voiceless and change the systems that failed to keep them safe.

Dolores and Amy from New Jersey, Jamison from Mississippi, and Jeremy from New York:  Children's Rights says life was once a nightmare for all of them because of the child welfare system.

"These are large systems that have a lot of money and there's no accountability about how the state is spending the money," said Marsha Lowry with Children's Rights.

Children's Rights went after the states that were supposed to protect them.  The national watch dog has settled cases in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington D.C.  And, it's in active litigation with Rhode Island, Michigan, and Oklahoma.

"We do the best we can with the resources that we have.  We've got one of the better systems in the country," said DHS's George Johnson.

But the nine children listed in the class action suit against Oklahoma tell a different story.  They range in ages four months to 16 years.  The lawsuit claims DHS is understaffed and puts foster children in unsafe and unstable environments.  The group says the lawsuits are never about money.

 "What we're seeking in this lawsuit is prospective changes for the children who are currently in the system and those who will be in the system going forward," said Marsha Lowry with Children's Rights.

The group monitors local and national news to track states.  It also relies on local child advocates for information.  The group says it investigated Oklahoma for eight months before filing the suit.  If it wins, it will continue to monitor the state and the children listed in the suit.