On September 15, 2022, Mitch Mirviss was quoted in the Baltimore Banner on the placement of Maryland foster children in hotels and downtown office buildings.
According to the article, about 56 children have spent a total of 200 hours in offices in the first six months of 2022. Teenagers also are living in hotel rooms, often supervised by a contract worker in the hallway who is responsible for multiple children. These placements are considered a last resort for social workers to hold children when foster families, group homes, or other residential facilities aren’t available, underscoring a statewide shortfall of placement options for children with complex emotional and behavioral needs. Though it is illegal, state employees and social workers say it sometimes is the best option for kids with intense needs.
Mirviss, who represented Baltimore City foster children in a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in a modified consent decree that bars the placement of foster children in unlicensed facilities, said he does not know why the number of kids staying in offices has gone up, nor why it is happening in tandem with the rise of children being boarded in hospitals. But he faulted state officials for failing to provide a more robust continuum of care for foster kids and other children with complex or specialized needs. He and other attorneys said the state lost foster care families during the pandemic, and a number of congregate care homes for children have closed.
“We have never moved for an order to flatly prohibit [boarding in unlicensed facilities] and we have never sought a court order to close it down, because where are the children going to go?” Mirviss said. “And the children’s attorneys and representatives have told us consistently over the years, ‘Please don’t do that.’ Because it’s a roof. And it’s better now than it was.”
Click here to access the article.