Lessons Learned from Child Welfare Class Action Litigation

In 2000, concerns about the State of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) led to a class action lawsuit focused on improving the state’s child welfare policies, programs, and outcomes. The case—Brian A. v. Haslam—resulted in a court-ordered Settlement Agreement; a strategy that is being used to promote child welfare system reform in states across the country.

The end result of this work is noteworthy because of the transformational reforms that took place during the two decades of litigation. Specifically, the State of Tennessee durably improved the ways DCS serves children and families and achieves outcomes, and successfully exited from federal court supervision in 2017.

Our latest publication is a case study intended to help child welfare system leaders, policymakers, and advocates who are engaged in comprehensive system improvement learn from Tennessee’s experience, whether those improvement efforts take place within the confines of class action litigation or are driven by other interests and priorities in their respective states.

Download the full report here. 

Read a press release about the work here.

Jessica Pika is the Communications Director at CSSP.