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Settlement Agreement

Related Links In July 2002, the “Katie A., et.al vs. the State of California" and the County of Los Angeles class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of five named plaintiff foster children, as well as, a class of children and young adults already in foster care, and/or those at risk of entering the foster care system. In lieu of monetary compensation, the Katie A. plaintiffs requested that the State and County improve upon its delivery of mental health services to children and families. In July 2003, one year following the Katie A. lawsuit, the Court approved the County’s Settlement Agreement resolving the County’s portion of the “Katie A.” lawsuit. The State has not yet resolved or settled their lawsuit with the plaintiffs.

The Objective of the Agreement is that the members of the class shall:
  • promptly receive necessary individualized mental health services in their own home, a family setting, or the most homelike setting appropriate to their needs;

  • receive care and services needed to prevent removal from their families or dependency or, when removal cannot be avoided, to facilitate reunification, and to meet their needs for safety, permanence, and stability;

  • be afforded stability in their placements, whenever possible; since multiple placements are harmful to children and are disruptive of family contact, mental health treatment and the provision of other services; and

  • receive care and services consistent with good child welfare and mental health practice and the requirements of federal and state law.
To fulfill the above Objectives, the County Defendants agree, inter alia. to:
  • immediately address the service and permanence needs of the five named Plaintiffs;

  • improve the consistency of DCFS’ decision making through the implementation of Structured Decision Making;

  • expand Wraparound services;

  • implement Team Decision Making at significant decision points for a child and his/her family;

  • expand the use of Family Team Decision Making;

  • ensure that the need of members of the class for mental health services are identified and that such services are provided to them;

  • enhance permanency planning, increase placement stability and provide more individualized, community-based emergency and other foster care services to foster children, thereby reducing dependence on MacLaren Children’s Center (MCC). The County further agrees to surrender its license for MCC and to not operate MCC for the residential care of children and youth under the age of 18 (e.g., as a transitional shelter care facility as defined by Health & Safety Code, § 1502.3). The net County cost, which is currently appropriated to support The Original Settlement Agreement MCC, shall continue to be appropriated to the DCFS budget in order to implement all of the plans listed in this paragraph (section).
Oversight & Duration of the Agreement

An Advisory Panel of experts will act as overseers to the County’s Settlement Agreement to ensure the County’s compliance. The Court shall retain the claims against the County Defendants in the instant lawsuit until such time as the Court finds, under the recommendations of the Advisory Panel, that the County Defendants have fulfilled the objectives and obligations agreed upon and are likely to continue to do so for the following twelve (12) calendar months


Presented by
Los Angeles County Department of
Children and Family Services

Copyright © 2009, Los Angeles County

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