ILNews

U.S. District Court dismisses 14-year consent decree

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Nearly 15 years after a consent decree was ordered by the U.S. District Court Southern District in the case B.M., et al. v. James W. Payne, et al., the court today dismissed the decree.

The case was originally filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in 1989 on behalf of the wards of Marion County and their parents because of child welfare workers' alleged failure to adequately provide services for families and children.

Before the case made it to trial in 1992, Judge William Steckler entered a consent decree with two key points - specific lower ratios of children to case workers and certain standards for case workers' training. The consent decree lasted 14 years because of the state's inability to comply with the elements of the decree.

Today, U.S. District Court Judge Tinder heard testimony from both sides of the case as to why the decree should be dismissed.

Kenneth Falk, ACLU-IN legal director representing the plaintiffs, said the system is not perfect, but the state is working to fix the problems. Steps the state has taken include the creation of the Indiana Department of Child Services and legislative funding and a law to maintain the low ratio of children to case workers, which will take affect next year.

"Since March 2005, the caseload standards have been constantly complied with," Falk said.

Judge Tinder, after hearing both sides of the testimony, said dismissal of the consent decree was fair, reasonable, and adequate.

"There is overriding public interest in settling. The funds (used for litigation) can be used for more important purposes," he said.
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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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