CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A federal judge has approved a settlement with the Department of Social Services, ending a lawsuit that accused the agency of endangering the 3,400 foster children in its care.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel gave final approval Tuesday to an agreement announced in June. Appleseed Legal Justice Center sued in January 2015 along with the New York-based watchdog group Children's Rights.
Among other things, the agency agreed to lower social workers' caseloads of abused and neglected children, put fewer children in institutions and do a better job investigating abuse allegations.
Director Susan Alford says the agreement represents the next step in the agency's reform efforts.
Her predecessor resigned in 2014 amid increased scrutiny from state legislators who were investigating children's deaths.