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CA Ocean S. v. LA County


Six young adults in the Los Angeles foster system filed this case against the California Department of Social Services, California Health and Human Services Agency, California Department of Health Care Services, Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Alliance for Children’s Rights, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Public Counsel, is proud to join them.


U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Western Division
Los Angeles
August 22, 2023
Focus Areas
Government Accountability, Child Health

The complaint alleges that county and state agencies are failing to fulfill their legal obligation to provide youth in the LA foster system ages sixteen to twenty-one (transition age foster youth) meaningful access to the essential housing and services to which they are legally entitled to.

Both before and after entering the foster system, a disproportionately high percentage of transition age foster youth have mental health conditions and other disabilities related to complex trauma, i.e., chronic, ongoing interpersonal trauma. Some are also young parents who, as they transition to adulthood, seek health, stability, and safety not only for themselves but for their families. The overwhelming majority of foster youth in Los Angeles County come from low-income Black and Latine communities.

Under federal and state law, the state and county must provide transition age foster youth with safe, stable, and continuous placements—including transition planning, housing, and developmental, educational, and medically necessary health and mental health services—to help them develop the skills and cultivate the relationships needed for independent living.

By unlawfully denying transition age foster youth appropriate placements and support services, Defendants have created a pipeline from the foster system to homelessness, heaping trauma on top of trauma and funneling these youth to the margins of society. 

Without government safeguards in place, young adults transitioning out of the foster system struggle to find safe, affordable housing. They are more likely to drop out of school, suffer from mental health conditions and substance use disorders, experience unemployment, housing instability, and homelessness, and enter the criminal legal system. Roughly one in every five transition age foster youth in California report experiencing homelessness while in extended foster care. 

Homelessness has devastating and enduring consequences for the safety and well-being of youth. Nationally, almost two-thirds of youth experiencing homelessness report being physically assaulted, robbed, sexually assaulted or raped, and threatened with a weapon.

This case was brought to ensure that LA youth transitioning out of the foster system and into adulthood have the resources, support, and services they are entitled to and need to be successful.

In the LA County Foster System