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Foster Care Lawsuit Dismissed By Federal Judge

18-year-old Geard Mitchell was a foster care child in West Virginia. He is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that alleges the state mistreated him.
Larry Dowling/ WVPB
18-year-old Geard Mitchell is one of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the state of W.Va. He and others say the state of West Virginia’s foster care system is broken. They’re urging the state to make changes to its foster care system, including providing more CPS workers, and reducing the amount of foster care kids who are placed in institutionalized settings.

A complaint filed against West Virginia officials and the state Department of Health and Human Resources, alleging that they violated the rights of a dozen foster care children, has been dismissed.

The civil lawsuit was filed in 2019 on behalf of 12 foster children by several child welfare advocacy groups within West Virginia and outside the state. Lawyers with the group “A Better Childhood,” also known as ABC, also filed a request that the lawsuit be classified as a class action lawsuit, to represent nearly 7,000 children currently in the West Virginia child welfare system.

U.S. District Court of Southern West Virginia Judge Thomas Johnston dismissed the lawsuit on Thursday.

Johnston sided with the DHHR on several claims, including that six of the 12 children named in the lawsuit are no longer in the foster care system. Some have aged out of foster care, and others have since been adopted. Therefore, the judge ruled, “they can neither be further harmed by defendants alleged illegal practices nor do they have a current claim for injunctive relief against defendants arising

from the operation of its child welfare system.”

Lawyers with ABC said they are disappointed in the judge’s decision for dismissal and plan to appeal.

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