Judge rules in favor of Mass. in foster care case

Updated at: 10/01/2013 4:35 PM
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(AP) BOSTON - A federal judge has ruled in favor of Massachusetts in a lawsuit filed by a child advocacy group that alleged thousands of children in the state’s foster care system were being abused and neglected.

A judge ruled Monday against Children’s Rights, a New York-based group that alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that the state Department of Children and Families had violated the constitutional rights of children by placing them in unstable and sometimes dangerous situations.

Olga Roche, the acting commissioner of the agency, said the ruling reflects the work the state has done in recent years to expand kinship placements, increase adoptions, enhance foster care supports and lower caseloads for staff.

"This ruling is not only a victory for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but also for the children and families we serve," Roche said in a statement.

A lawyer for Children’s Rights said the group is disappointed but hopes the state will act to improve problems.

"We brought the suit because there were several well-documented and well-known failings within the system," said Sara Bartosz, lead counsel for Children’s Rights. "We thought it important to not only shine a really bright light on those issues, but to ask for the protection of the court to make sure these were remedied."

She cited excessive caseloads for social workers, the need for improvements in training programs for staff and a lack of appropriate placements leading to children being put in numerous foster homes.

U.S. District Judge William Young issued the order and said he would release his written opinion later.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)