March 5, 2004

State of Alabama
Press Release: Human Resources, Department of

Jefferson County DHR Asserts That West Region Child Welfare Services Are In Compliance with R.C. Consent Decree

BIRMINGHAM: At a meeting today before a federal court monitor, the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources (DHR) asserted that child welfare services in the West Region of the county are now in compliance with the high standards set forth in the R.C. Consent Decree. The West Region was the last of the county’s five regions to assert compliance with the decree. Jefferson is the only county in the state that is divided into multiple child welfare regions, because of its size and the wide variety of challenges it presents.

The R.C. consent decree stresses child safety when handling abuse and neglect cases, individualized services to children and their families, and quality care for children who must be removed from their homes. The decree has strict requirements for keeping the caseloads of child welfare workers very low. It also emphasizes extensive training for all child welfare workers, including veteran workers. In compliance with these standards, the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources has hired many more staff over the past few years, and workers have received the training necessary to ensure that high quality child welfare services are being provided.

The West Region of Jefferson County DHR asserted it compliance with those high standards during a meeting that was held at Christ Temple Deliverance Church in Ensley. Among those in attendance were State DHR Commissioner Page Walley, Jefferson County DHR Director Caro Shanahan, and Federal Court Monitor Dr. Ivor Groves. In federal court, Dr. Groves has stated that counties that are meeting the standards of the consent decree are providing services equal to any in the nation.

The R.C. Consent Decree resulted from a 1988 class action lawsuit regarding Alabama’s child welfare system. “R.C.” was an eight-year-old foster child who was the plaintiff in the lawsuit. Since 1991 when the lawsuit was settled, DHR has been implementing, county by county, a more effective child welfare system. Sixty-six (66) of the state’s 67 counties have now asserted that they are meeting the very high standards set forth in the decree. Cullman County DHR will complete the overhaul of the state’s child welfare system when it asserts compliance later this year.

  • For more information, visit
  • For more state-wide press releases, click here