National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

M.B. v. Howard Class Action Settlement

In July of 2020, NCYL reached a settlement in M.B. v. Howard, a class action lawsuit against the state of Kansas over its egregious treatment of youth in foster care. NCYL represents the plaintiffs, a class of all youth who are or will be in Kansas’ foster care system. For years, Kansas has subjected children to extreme housing instability due to the state’s failure to maintain an appropriate array of foster care placements. Children were bounced among any one-night stay, couch, or contractor office that could be found; some moved more than 20, 50 or even 100 times. Meanwhile, the state failed to provide children in foster care with desperately needed mental health screenings and services. The settlement agreement will fundamentally change children’s lives by ending the placement practices that render them essentially homeless and ensuring access to vital mental health care services.

The settlement agreement is available for review here.

Before the judge enters final approval of the settlement agreement, he will hold a hearing where children and their legal representatives, families, and caregivers can present any positive or negative comments or objections about the settlement agreement.

** The Fairness Hearing will take place on Friday, January 22, 2021, at 9:00 A.M. Central Time.

** Judge Daniel D. Crabtree will hold the Fairness Hearing virtually.

** Anyone can listen to the Fairness Hearing by telephone by dialing 1-888-363-4749 and then entering the access code 8354715#.  Mute your telephone line immediately, until and unless the Court or counsel directs you to unmute your line.

** If you have already given a written submission, the parties have provided it to the Court, and the Judge will review it.  You do not have to read it to the Court or repeat its contents verbally.

** If you have already provided notice that you would like to address the Court at the hearing, you may address the Court by phone or Zoom video conference, unless you will not have access to a phone or an internet connection during the hearing.

* If you prefer to address the Court by phone, you may do so by calling 1-888-363-4749, entering the access code 8354715#, and muting your telephone line until the Court directs you to speak.

* If you prefer to instead address the Court by video conference, please notify Class Counsel at fpitts@youthlaw.org, and you will be provided a Zoom video link and instructions.  To use this link effectively, you must have a stable internet connection during the hearing.

* If you do not have access to a phone or an internet connection during the hearing, you can attend the hearing in person by going to Courtroom 476 at the Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse, 500 State Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, at the designated time (see above) and following all courthouse COVID protocols.  Information about visiting the courthouse is available at http://ksd.uscourts.gov/index.php/courthouse-information/.

** Please keep in mind that counsel for the parties will all be participating by Zoom videoconference.

** Please be aware that the Fairness Hearing is a public hearing.  If you plan to speak about a specific child, please avoid using the child’s name and instead refer to the child’s relationship to you to protect their privacy.

Update:  Due to a fire at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse, the courtroom location for the Settlement Approval Hearing has changed to Division 1 on the third floor of the Wyandotte County, Kansas Courthouse, 710 N. 7th Street, Kansas City, KS 66101.  The public can enter through the front doors on 7th Street.

If the date, time, or location of the hearing changes, or if any other information about the hearing changes, the new information will be posted on this page.

You have the right to submit written comments, objections, or support about the proposed Settlement Agreement. You can also request to speak at the hearing. Comments, objections, support and requests to speak must be RECEIVED by December 7, 2020. They must be submitted by U.S. mail or email to:

Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Inc.
Attention: Teresa A. Woody
211 East 8th Street, Suite D
Lawrence, KS 66044
fostercaresettlement@kansasappleseed.org

OR

National Center for Youth Law
Attention: Leecia Welch
1212 Broadway, Suite 600
Oakland, CA 94612
lwelch@youthlaw.org

For more information on how to submit comments, objections, or support about the settlement agreement or to request to speak at the hearing, please review the Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement.

The judge’s order of preliminary approval of the settlement agreement is available here.

The plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint is available for review here.

Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees and costs is available here, and the supporting brief is available here. Defendants’ opposition to Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees and costs is available here, and Plaintiffs’ reply brief is available here.  All documents filed with the motion for attorneys’ fees and costs are available in the “Documents” section below.

Plaintiffs’ Summary of and Responses to Submissions Received in Response to Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement is available here. Documents filed publicly with Plaintiffs’ Summary and Responses are available in the “Documents” section.

Latest News

Press Coverage

Documents

Motion for Final Approval

Declaration of Leecia Welch in Support of Final Approval

Plaintiffs' Summary of and Responses to Submissions Received in Response to Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement