M.D. v. Abbott

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, affirmed with modification in part, and vacated in part an injunction remedying certain constitutional deficiencies in Texas's foster care system. The court previously found that DFPS's policies violated plaintiffs' substantive due process rights by maintaining overburdened caseworkers who are responsible for the children in the permanent management conservatorship (PMC), and by failing to adequately monitor and oversee the children in the licensed foster care (LFC) subclass. The court affirmed the 24-hour-supervision requirement with the modification that it applied only to LFC placements, not unlicensed placements; vacated the face-to-face provision as being inconsistent with Stukenberg I; affirmed workload study provisions and rejected the State's argument that DFPS should be able to determine on its own how many cases, on average, caseworkers, and RCCL investigators can safely carry; invalidated the integrated computer system requirement and the accompanying access provision; vacated the court's expressed validation of the integrated computer system; vacated the missing medical records provision because there was no longer a justification for the provision; affirmed the remote access provision but modified the injunction to require that any of the Monitors' staff and consultants who have unrestricted, remote access to DFPS's systems be qualified to handle the information, be taught how to use the systems, and be given confidentiality agreements; and vacated the injunctive provision dealing with the previous third party studies. Finally, the court held that the State's objections to the modified injunction's termination provisions were waived, and the court declined to lift the stay in full. View "M.D. v. Abbott" on Justia Law