| News |

Rick Perry, State Officials Named in Class Action Over Failures in Texas's Long-Term Foster Care

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

A lengthy federal suit filed this morning by the national advocacy group Children's Rights says Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials have neglected their legal responsibility to the children in state care, and violated their constitutional rights, by "failing to either return them safely to their families or find them safe, appropriate, and permanent new families."

Backed by a trio of Texas law firms including Victory Park-based Haynes and Boone, M.D. v. Perry names nine specific plaintiffs by their initials. In a press release this morning, Children's Rights says the suit -- which follows in full -- was filed "on behalf of the approximately 12,000 children who have the misfortune of being in the long-term foster care" of Texas's Department of Family and Protective Services.

DFPS Commissioner Anne Heiligenstein and Health and Human Services Commissioner Thomas Suehs are also named as defendants in the complaint, which includes a list of proposed reforms -- including a limit on DFPS workers' caseloads, a new accountability system for the agency, and "special expert panels to review the cases of all class members who have had more than four placements."

As it is, children in DFPS custody typically have a year to find a permanent foster home, or be reunited with their old family, before they're placed in "permanent managing conservatorship," a long-term solution where, the group says, children are "forgotten" by the state. The cases detailed in the complaint -- of children from 9 to 16 years old -- detail frequent shuffling between group homes, mismanaged medication, abuse and separation from brothers and sisters.

"Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own," said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children's Rights. The complaint seeks nothing less than the reform of the state's foster care system.

M.D. v. Perry Complaint

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.