Andy's 9/21/2005 Oral Comments in Kenny A Class Action

Oral Comments to Federal District Court Senior Judge Marvin Shoob by Andrew Barclay, September 21, 2005

Andy's comments answering plaintiffs' 9/19/2005 brief (5 minutes):

May it please the Court, my name is Andrew Barclay. I am an engineer. I hold a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. I have also returned to school and should be finishing up my PhD in Biostatistics next year at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory.
Five years ago I founded a child-welfare clinic with Emory's Law School called the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic. This clinic is named for my grandparents.
I have worked in data analysis for 27 years, mostly in medical imaging and public health. For the past 7 years, I have worked primarily with data from the child welfare system. In 2001 I served as technical adviser to Georgia's Federal Child and Family Services Review, also known as the "federal review".

Your honor, I'll attempt 5 points in 3 minutes:

  1. Reentry rate: Reentry rate in the 2 counties today is about 7%. We propose a decrease in reentry to 5%, the approximate level at the filing of this suit. The proposed settlement would allow this to rise significantly, to 8.6%, causing additional harm to class members. Because this is the only outcome measure directly related to the safety of a significant portion of class members, the setting of this target is critically important.
  2. Permanency for entry cohorts: Outcome measure 8(a) sets a target of 40% of new entries in permanent placements within 12 months. We ask that this be increased to 60%, based on the most recent DeKalb and Fulton performance of 55% and 47% respectively, and neighboring county performances of 59-76% on this measure.
    Plaintiff's brief asserts that we ignored provisions of the settlement designed to accelerate permanency. Quite the contrary -- in proposing a target slightly above current performance, we are counting on these provisions accelerating permanency. It had not occurred to us that measures designed to accelerate permanency would support an argument for a target lower than current performance.
  3. The 24-month backlog pool: To track children in care on the date of the decree, the parties defined 2 "backlog" pools: 1. the 24-month pool, and 2. the over-24-month pool. Our comments addressed only the 24-month pool, which could more accurately be called the "under-24-month pool". Unfortunately, our wording was imprecise and plaintiff's brief stated an incorrect definition for the 24-month backlog pool.
    To clear this up, I will simply restate our comment: 45% of the children in the March 31, 2004 24-month backlog pool (those are children in care for less than 24 months on 3/31/2004) in Fulton and DeKalb Counties were discharged to permanency by March 31, 2005, 12 months later. Thus the settlement's proposed 12-month target for this measure of 35% is, like the reentry rate and time to permanency in entry cohorts, below recent performance.
  4. Sibling groups: The definition of outcome measure 16 should require that siblings be together more than one day during the period.
  5. Placement stability: The definition of the cohort in outcome measure 17 should match the federal definition, since the target is the national standard.


Finally, your honor, I have some good news and some bad news for the victims of maltreatment in Georgia. Since this suit was filed, the overall lengths of stay have decreased 13%, so you can expect a shorter stay in foster care. That's the good news. The bad news is that the re-abuse rate is up 51% and the death rate due to confirmed abuse is up 57% since this suit was filed.

I believe that the day we begin hearing the good news and the bad news from agency officials is the day that we will gain the most valuable partner in child welfare reform. I sincerely hope that the public reporting required by this settlement, with the necessary addition of safety measures, hastens that day.
Thank you.


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