RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court in Virginia has refused to throw out an agreement to improve Baltimore’s foster care system.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court’s decisions in the 27-year-old case Wednesday.

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Baltimore foster children filed a class-action lawsuit in 1984 alleging abuse and neglect. A consent decree spelling out an improvement plan was entered in 1988 and modified in 2009 to address ongoing problems.

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The Maryland attorney general’s office claimed a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated case eliminated the legal bases for the consent decrees, but U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz and the appeals court disagreed.

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