She and lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Paul Yetter said the 5th Circuit’s three-judge panel would review Jack’s proposed injunction. Unless the panel has more instructions for Jack, it would issue a mandate, effectively entering what would be a final judgment in the case.Then the state or the plaintiffs could ask for a rehearing by the 5th Circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court, they said. Last month, the all-Republican panel, with one dissent, upheld key portions of Jack’s remedial plan but swept away others, calling them overreach.Proposed requirements designed to create a better array of state-offered placements, install landlines for abused foster children to use to report maltreatment, improve group homes and prepare foster teens for adult living may be laudable aspirations for a child-welfare system, Judge Edith Brown Clement of Louisiana wrote for the majority. But the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require them, she said.
Jack, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, worked around the loss of the landlines by proposing to order CPS workers to instruct foster children about the “appropriate point of contact” if they need to report abuse. She also proposed an immediate ban on placing any more kids in homes with six or more biological, adopted and foster children — unless there is “24 hour awake-night supervision” by an adult.Jack complained that the state previously ignored her requests for workload studies, or framed them too narrowly. In her proposed injunction, she set out an urgent timetable for achieving more manageable caseloads.While Clement’s opinion voided use of caseload caps, Jack seized on the appellate judges’ plan to have the state devise internal standards and use them as a “rough guide” in distributing work and to “inform hiring goals.”Under Jack’s revised plan, within four months of a final order, the state would have to finish studies to determine reasonable caseloads for CPS’s conservatorship caseworkers, the protective-services investigators who look into tips about mistreatment of foster children and the commission’s licensing inspectors. Within six months, the agencies would have to apply the new standards. Bad providers would have to be identified and punished.Jack proposed to extend her use of two state-paid monitors, Kevin Ryan of New Jersey and Deborah Fowler of Austin. They would have unfettered access to state databases, which under Jack’s order would have to be improved rapidly.Jack would retain jurisdiction in the case for three years after the monitors certify the state has fully complied. As progress occurs, though, parties to the suit could ask for portions of the injunction to be lifted, and monitoring in those areas to end, she said.