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With the End of a Three-Decade Class Action Lawsuit, Mayor Bowser Announces a New Era for the DC Child and Family Services Agency

Friday, September 9, 2022

Washington, DC – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the official end of LaShawn A. v. Bowser, a 31-year-old class action lawsuit filed in 1989 on behalf of children in the District’s foster care system. Last June, a settlement agreement to exit federal court oversight was reached by all parties, and a virtual fairness hearing before United States District Court Judge Thomas Hogan affirmed the settlement fair, reasonable, and adequate. This afternoon, after a one-year period of data validation, all parties agree that today’s in-person court appearance marks the final status hearing of the case.
“The end of LaShawn v. Bowser is indicative of a collective, District-wide commitment to children and families,” said Mayor Bowser. “We have made it a priority to ensure CFSA is resourced and supported to carry out its mission to protect our most vulnerable children. The agency’s focus on family, love, and prevention means that child welfare in the District doesn’t look the same as it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Today, we are proud that it looks more like providing families the services they need to keep their children safe and well at home.”
With the development of the values-based Four Pillars strategic framework; approval of the District’s federal Five-Year Family First Prevention Plan; and implementation of the robust citywide prevention strategy, Families First DC, CFSA has steadfastly laid the groundwork for a transformation from a child welfare agency to a child and family well-being system. And as a member of Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Child and Family Well-Being, CFSA is a leading jurisdiction within this cross-sector movement.
Under strong leadership, CFSA’s adherence to best practices when addressing abuse and neglect along with an expanded network of partnerships within DC government and the community have paved the way for increased accountability, transparency, and prevention.
“CFSA’s work ensuring the safety of children in the District does not end with LaShawn. As a proven self-regulating and self-correcting agency driven by data and quality, we will continue to improve our clinical practice,” said CFSA Director Robert L. Matthews. “The end of this lawsuit allows CFSA the bandwidth to focus on prevention with an even greater fidelity. Thriving Families, Safer Children is the next era for child welfare. We know that when families are supported before, during, and after their challenges, children are safer. We are proud of the progress CFSA has made, and together with our sister agencies, providers, and partners, we look forward to continuing this transformation to a child and family well-being system for the District.”


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