State to pay $700,000 settlement to lawyers to track foster care

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

September 13, 2007

The state Department of Human Resources has agreed to pay a second settlement -- worth $700,000 -- to attorneys who represent foster children served by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services.

In 2005, the state agreed to pay attorneys Mitchell Y. Mirviss and Gary S. Posner $367,534 for work they performed monitoring foster services as part of a class action suit they filed on behalf of children in out-of-home care about 20 years ago.

That agreement, part of a class action lawsuit known as L.J. v. Massinga, requires the state to provide better health care, education and protection for the city's foster children. Regular reports are filed by the attorneys and the state in an effort to ensure quality care, and this requires a considerable amount of research and time.

After the attorneys received the first settlement in 2005, they used the money to hire another attorney, Rhonda Lipkin, who is the former deputy director of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, to monitor city foster care services full time. Lipkin has worked under the umbrella of the Public Justice Center in Baltimore since then. Money from the second settlement will allow her to continue her work, Mirviss said yesterday.

The settlement was approved yesterday by the Maryland Board of Public Works.

A spokesman for the Department of Human Resources, which oversees foster care in the state, said that there has been some progress in recent years in meeting the requirements set by the lawsuit.

"We know there were mistakes in the past, and we are determined not to repeat those mistakes," said spokesman Norris West.

Mirviss said that Lipkin's most recent report on the city's foster care services revealed that some children were still not receiving regular medical care and the state was not doing an adequate job tracking school enrollment.

Lynn Anderson

Baltimore

: Grants

Free workshop to be held today

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development will hold a free technical assistance and grants workshop at 6:30 p.m. today at St. Francis of Assisi Church Hall, 3615 Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore. Self-help groups, community organizers and others involved in housing, employment and economic assistance are invited to apply for grants. Last year, the campaign awarded more than $227,000 in grants to groups in the Baltimore area.

Information: 410-235-5136.

Pratt library

Events to mark Mencken's birthday

The Enoch Pratt Free Library will celebrate H.L. Mencken's 127th birthday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday with events at the central library, 400 Cathedral St. The 2007 Mencken Day celebration will include exhibits throughout the day, the annual meeting of the Mencken Society at 10 a.m. and the 2007 Mencken Memorial Lecture, "Beyond Scorn," to be presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Lewis at 2:15 p.m. The meeting and the lecture will be held in Wheeler Auditorium. At 5 p.m. at the Maryland Historical Society, the Peabody Opera Workshop will present the world premiere of The Artist, an opera based on a play by Mencken.

Information: www.prattlibrary.org.

Maryland

: Chesapeake area

Lighthouses to open for public viewing

Maryland's land-accessible lighthouses will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday as part of the 5th Anniversary Celebration of the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge, an event sponsored by the Chesapeake Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society and by local jurisdictions with lighthouses.

The challenge is to visit all nine land-accessible lighthouses as well as the Chesapeake Lightship, in the Inner Harbor, between 8 a.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Information: http:--www.cheslights.org.

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