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Opposition to Renewed Contempt Motion 02 05 2009

Opposition to Renewed Contempt Motion 02 05 2009

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Published by Susie Cambria

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Published by: Susie Cambria on Feb 13, 2009
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et al
., ))Plaintiffs, )) Civil Action No. 89-1754 (TFH)v.
et al
., ))Defendants. ))
Plaintiffs seek to renew their July 24, 2008 Motion for a Finding of Civil Contempt,which was resolved by this Court’s October 7, 2008 Stipulated Order, arguing that acceptableprogress was not made in relation to the actions required in that order. That conclusion is notsupported by the Court Monitor’s report of January 5, 2009 on the District of Columbia’scompliance with the Stipulated Order (Exhibit A to plaintiffs’ motion) which found that over thepast three months:the Child and Family Services [Agency] [CFSA], with the assistance andsupport from the Executive Office of the Mayor, the Attorney General andthe City Administrator has worked diligently to successfully meet each of the agreements of the Stipulated Order. This includes focused andintensive work to dramatically reduce the backlog of investigationsincomplete after 30 days . . . Other improvements . . . include hiringadditional social workers to reduce the unacceptably high number of socialwork vacancies; moving forward to revitalize efforts to achievepermanency for children in foster care and expanding the array andnumber of available out-of-home placements. The District should becommended for the success of its work during the past three months.
Case 1:89-cv-01754-TFH Document 912 Filed 02/05/2009 Page 1 of 14
Report at 1. Plaintiffs vitriolic argument, however, is based on unsubstantiated assertions thatthe Mayor is impeding implementation of the court-ordered reforms and that the agencyresponsible for implementing these reforms -- the CFSA -- is in “a state of fundamental chaos,”assertions directly contradicted by the Court Monitor’s recent findings. Motion at 2 & 6.Putting aside these inaccurate conclusions, plaintiffs’ argument is narrowly based on theDistrict’s recent submission of a motion asking this Court to approve a six-month plan for whichit was unable to get the approval of the Court Monitor (Monitor) by the date it was required to befiled. This is the unacceptable progress which, plaintiffs argue, now support a finding of contempt. Such a finding is unsupported and unwarranted. Plaintiffs’ motion is nothing morethan an expression of their disagreement with defendants’ recently submitted six-month plan;there are no facts contained therein that can support a finding of contempt against the District.
The District Of Columbia Has Met Or Exceeded The Requirements Of The Stipulated Order And Its Submission Of A Motion Seeking ThisCourt’s Approval Of A Six-Month Plan, As Recommended By TheConsultants Retained Pursuant To That Order, Does Not Support AFinding Of Contempt.A. Procedural Background.On July 24, 2008, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking a finding of contempt. The District’sopposition to that motion was filed on September 5, 2008. The District will not repeat the factsand arguments made in its opposition, but does incorporate them here by reference. As notedabove, plaintiffs’ motion was resolved by the Stipulated Order. Therein, the plaintiffs reservedthe right to seek a finding of civil contempt based on the matters previously raised in theirmotion if acceptable progress is not made relative to the actions required in the Stipulated Order.Order at 1.2
Case 1:89-cv-01754-TFH Document 912 Filed 02/05/2009 Page 2 of 14
As reported by the Court Monitor, the Stipulated Order required a “series of actions theDistrict of Columbia would complete between October 15 and December 31, 2008 . . . [and[CFSA has successfully completed each of the requirements of the Stipulation.” Report at 2. Anessential component of the Stipulated Order was the District’s retention of a group of experienced child welfare consultants who were recommended by the plaintiffs and endorsed bythe Court Monitor – Public Catalyst Group (PCG). As required, PCG was retained by theDistrict; they completed an organizational assessment of CFSA, assisted the Mayor withrecruitment of a permanent CFSA director, and assisted the District in its development of its six-month plan. Report at 2-4.The Stipulated Order had ten additional requirements:1.) The first was a reduction in the number of investigations open longer than 30 days to100 by December 31, 2008. As of December 26, 2008, the backlog of investigations openbeyond 30 days was 69, a dramatic reduction from mid-June 2008. Report at 4.2.) A reduction in the vacancy rate for case carrying social workers to as low as 15percent was required by December 31, 2008. As of December 18, 2006, the vacancy rate was aslow as 6 percent. Report at 5.3). A new telephone system for the Child Protective Service’s Hotline was to beoperational by December 31, 2008. This new system became operational on December 10, 2008and “[a]ll the elements of a functional system and the supporting technology are availablethrough this new system.” Report at 6.4.) CFSA in-home staff were to be co-located with the Healthy Families ThrivingCommunities Collaboratives no later than November 15, 2008. “As of November 2008, all of 3
Case 1:89-cv-01754-TFH Document 912 Filed 02/05/2009 Page 3 of 14

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