This paper is the product of an unusual collaboration, in terms of both people and process. Data for this study was gathered through interviews conducted during the Fall of 1994 and Spring of 1995.' It was conceived by the Center for the Study of Social Policy ("CSSP"), whose expertise in human services management and financing has often been called upon in class action lawsuits against child welfare agencies across the country. CSSP has served as a plaintiffs expert, court-appointed neutral expert, court-appointed monitor, and neutral settlement facilitator in seven cases, and its experiences differed considerably in each case and role. One observation, however, held constant across all of them: the later in the litigation's life cycle that substantive expertise of the sort CSSP provided was called in, the greater the likelihood that protracted adversarial combat had already done substantial damage to the very agency that the lawsuit had set out to reform.



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