Jeanine B. Settlement Information

A diverse group of children, arms around each other with brightly-colored t-shirts

Jeanine B. Settlement Agreement


Earlier this year, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), in collaboration with Children’s Rights, filed a Joint Motion requesting court approval to end the Jeanine B. legal settlement agreement governing DCF’s child welfare work in Milwaukee County. On September 29, 2021, Chief Judge Pamela Pepper of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin found that the parties had substantially complied with the requirements of the Jeanine B. settlement agreement and consent decree. Judge Pepper therefore dismissed the class action lawsuit. This decision recognizes the significant work completed to date and the state’s ongoing commitment to improving child welfare services provided to Milwaukee County’s children and families.

While exiting the settlement agreement marks a significant milestone, it does not change the state’s commitment to continue to provide the best possible child welfare services to the community in a transparent and collaborative fashion. In short, there will not be changes to DCF’s operations as a result of this development. DCF’s providers will continue to serve the children and families of Milwaukee County. The state will continue to publicly report its data, Milwaukee County child welfare will remain in state control, and the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council will continue to provide community feedback and guidance. DCF will continue to implement transformative changes consistent with the federal Family First Act. That includes an increased focus on providing families services to successfully keep children with their families.


The Jeanine B. lawsuit dates to 1993. As a result, the Legislature transferred responsibility for child welfare services in Milwaukee County to the state in 1998. In 2002, the parties (the state defendants and a class of children represented by Children’s Rights) agreed to enter into a settlement agreement to resolve the Jeanine B. lawsuit. This settlement agreement was approved by the court in 2002 and has facilitated substantial improvement of the child welfare services provided to Milwaukee County’s children and families. The Jeanine B. settlement agreement established 19 performance measures relating to the permanence, safety, and well-being of children in care for the state to meet before being released. All but one of those measures, relating to placement stability, have been met. The federal Family First legislation, which is changing how child welfare services are delivered, becomes effective in Wisconsin later this year. As the state shifts its focus to keeping families safely together whenever possible, the state defendants and Children’s Rights have agreed that substantial compliance with the placement stability benchmark warrants termination of the settlement agreement.

Court Documents

Joint Motion for Assignment of Judge

Joint Motion for Exit

Supporting Brief for Exit Motion

Scheduling Order

Notice of Proposed Termination of the Modified Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree Pursuant to Joint Motion of the Parties

Notificación de Propuesta Terminación del Convenio de Transacción Modificado y Convenio Judicial al Tenor del Pedimento Conjunto Presentado por las Partes

2020 Annual Jeanine B. Settlement Report

January - June 2021 Semi-Annual Jeanine B. Settlement Report

Order Terminating Consent Decree and Dismissing Lawsuit

Audio Recording of September 29, 2021, Court Hearing