A national advocacy group says it's filing a lawsuit in federal court in Boston seeking reform of the state's foster care system because it is hurting, rather than helping, vulnerable children.
The group Children's Rights says in its civil rights class action suit that the foster care system is "causing physical and psychological harm to the abused and neglected children it is mandated to protect."
The lawsuit filed in US District Court says state officials have failed "to take the necessary action to discharge their obligations to ensure the safety and well-being of the children taken into their custody."
The lawsuit names six students to represent the class. The defendants are Governor Deval Patrick; Judy Ann Bigby, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; and Angelo McClain, the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.
"There is absolutely no justification for what Massachusetts is doing to its most vulnerable children," Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children's Rights, said in a statement.
The Patrick administration issued a statement, saying it had made the care of children "a top priority."
"We have made great strides in reforming the Department of Children and Families and made significant improvements for children in and out of foster care. We have increased the number of children being safely cared for at home; met and exceeded the national standard for timeliness to adoption and reunification; and better supported our transition age youth," the officials said.
"We regret that their lawsuit will force us to expend already limited resources during this fiscal crisis to defend this suit, instead of investing those resources in efforts to serve children and families," the statement said.
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