A Multimillion-Dollar Settlement for a Young Woman Once Lost in the Shadow Foster System Days after ProPublica featured Molly Cordell in a story about how a North Carolina county illegally tore her from her family and made her homeless, she got a $4 million settlement. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Days after ProPublica’s investigation into shadow foster care, which told the story of a teenager who was made homeless after child protection workers illegally separated her from her family, North Carolina’s Cherokee County agreed to a $4 million settlement with 21-year-old Molly Cordell. Molly’s lawyers had sued the county for violating her constitutional due-process rights, and the trial was expected to begin in January. Defense lawyers reached out to Molly’s attorneys within days of the Cherokee Department of Social Services receiving an email from ProPublica that included the findings from our reporting on her case; the lawyers said they were looking at resolution options ahead of their Dec. 7 pretrial hearing. The ProPublica story ran on Dec. 1 in collaboration with The New York Times Magazine. The following day, the defendants’ lawyers offered Molly $4 million. The parties filed a notice of settlement in federal court on Monday. ProPublica Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Thanks for signing up. If you like our stories, mind sharing this with a friend? https://www.propublica.org/newsletters/the-big-story?source=www.propublica.org&placement=share®ion=national Copy link For more ways to keep up, be sure to check out the rest of our newsletters. See All Fact-based, independent journalism is needed now more than ever. Donate Our investigation examined “shadow” foster care, a practice in which child protection agencies encourage or pressure parents to send their children to live with relatives or family friends, who care for them outside of the support of the formal foster system. At least 35 states use hidden foster care, and many don’t abide by time limits on the informal family separations. Cherokee County, at the southwesternmost edge of North Carolina, had been using an extreme version: In addition to encouraging parents to sign over physical custody of their children, the department encouraged dozens of parents to sign over legal custody through a form called a “custody-and-visitation agreement,” which purported to effectively terminate their rights to their children. Legally, only a judge can make such a determination. The Cherokee department moved Molly into this hidden system three separate times, starting at the age of 15. Molly had been suffering from suicidal thoughts and was deaf in her left ear; because she was in shadow foster care, she was not able to receive medical attention or mental heal . . . read the full article here.