PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — It appears an end is in site to the decade long suit against the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families. A settlement has been reached between the parties.
“We’re feeling that this is a really great accomplishment for the office and for the children and families in the child welfare system,” said Neal Kelly an Assistant Attorney General.
The suit was filed back in 2007 by the national advocacy organization Children’s Rights claiming among other things a failure to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in a timely manner.
The legal action stems from the 2004 beating death of a 3-year-old Woonsocket boy.
The settlement lays out changes that the department will be required to implement to improve the care of kids in the system moving forward.
“What it does is it quantifies the work at DCYF,” sad Kelly. “So with the quantification of the work that should put measurable changes in place and with that should lead to a better quality of care for children.”
There multiple areas that the state system will now work towards improving including putting an end to the placement children in emergency shelters, conducting an annual assessment of cases of abuse or neglect occurring in DCYF foster care, and making sure investigations happen in a timely manner.
In a statement, Children’s Rights said that the settlement will, “greatly improve safety and support for children in state care.”
This settlement comes as the department copes with troubles including child deaths and safety issues at the state training school.
The new director is happy with the just reached settlement.
Director Trista Piccola issued the following statement:
Today’s settlement represents the realization that, in order to have successful outcomes, our child welfare system needs a strong foundation. To effect sustainable child welfare reform in Rhode Island, we have to continue building on our strong partnerships with our community providers, lawmakers, Family Court, schools, faith-based communities, and other stakeholders. We must be focused on continuously improving services that make the most difference for our children and families. I want to thank all of our staff and the many stakeholders who helped us diagnose the issues, formulate a turnaround plan for enduring reform, and build a vision and commitment for keeping children safe and families strong in Rhode Island.
The settlement does still need to be approved by a judge before it is final.