In The Courts

When legislative hearings and blue-ribbon commissions do not produce meaningful system change, we harness the power of the law to compel measurable and lasting reforms that improve children’s lives.

We use the power of the courts to hold states accountable for meeting specific, court-enforceable benchmarks that ultimately transform the way kids are treated in government systems.

Key Facts

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Nationwide Impact

Key

Litigation
National: Enforcing the Flores Settlement Agreement
Federal Immigration Work

Federal

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Flores v. Reno

The Flores case was filed in 1985 to address the serious mistreatment of immigrant children in federal custody. The case settled in 1997 and remains under the supervision of federal court judge Dolly Gee in the Central District of California.

Alabama

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A.A. v. Buckner

Children’s Rights, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed A.A. v. Buckner against the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) on behalf of children in foster care living with mental health impairments who are held in psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs)—a population that is disproportionately Black youth.

Arizona

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B.K. v. McKay

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Perkins Coie LLP and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, filed this case against Gregory McKay, in his official capacity as director of the Department of Child Safety, Cara M. Christ, in her official capacity as director of the Department of Health Services, and Thomas J. Betlach, in his official capacity as director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Connecticut

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Juan F. v. Lamont (formerly Juan F. v. Malloy)

Children’s Rights, along with local advocates in Connecticut, brought civil rights class action Juan F. v. Lamont against the Connecticut child welfare system to address the harm done to kids both at the front end of the system, as well as children removed and placed into institutions and other out of home foster care.

Florida

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H.G. v. Carroll

An extreme shortage of foster homes in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties leaves children adrift and at risk of harm as they bounce between numerous families, group homes and institutions while their mental health needs go unmet.

Georgia

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T.H. v. DeKalb County School District

Children’s Rights, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP and the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law filed T.H. v. DeKalb County School District against the DeKalb County School District (DCSD), the Georgia Department of Education, and the DeKalb County Sheriffs’ Office, along with associated state officials are named as defendants.

Kenny A. v. Deal

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP in Atlanta, filed this case against the governor of Georgia and state and county officials on behalf of a class of all children in Fulton and DeKalb County foster care (metropolitan Atlanta), and a class of African-American children in foster care, alleging violations of their federal and state rights to adequate protection and services while in state custody.

Iowa

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C.A. v. Garcia

Children’s Rights, Disability Rights Iowa, National Health Law Program, and Ropes & Gray, LLP, filed C.A. vs. Garcia against the Iowa State Department of Human Services on behalf of Medicaid-eligible children who were denied legally required and medically necessary mental health care services.

C.P.X. v. Garcia (formerly known as C.P.X. v. Foxhoven)

CR and DRI assert that these boys, aged 12 to 19, do not receive the mental health treatment needed to fulfill the facility’s mission of providing “a program which focuses on appropriate developmental skills, treatment, placements and rehabilitation.”

Kansas

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M.B. v. Howard (formerly known as M.B. v. Colyer)

Children in Kansas foster care face extreme housing instability—sometimes moved more than 50 or 100 times—and are deprived of critical mental health assessments and services according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed today.

Maine

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Bryan C. v. Lambrew

The lawsuit challenges the unmonitored use of psychotropic drugs for children living in Maine’s care– representing 2,000 children in the state’s foster care system.

Maryland

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Y.A. v. Padilla

The complaint asserts that for over a decade, DHS and SSA have failed to exercise adequate oversight while administering powerful psychotropic medications to children in the State’s foster system.

Massachusetts

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Connor B. v. Patrick

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP, filed this against Deval L. Patrick, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; JudyAnn Bigby, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services; and Angelo McClain, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Michigan

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Dwayne B. v. Snyder

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Ned Leibensperger, Kevin Bolan and McDermott Will & Emery LLC, filed this case against the Governor of the state of Michigan and the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS) on behalf of all children who are now or will be in the foster care custody of DHS.

Missouri

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E.C. v. Sherman

Children’s Rights filed this class action in August 2005, together with a broad coalition of Missouri advocates, when a new Missouri law threatened to cut off critical adoption subsidies for special needs foster children.

M.B. v. Tidball

Watchdogs Children’s Rights, National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics, and the international firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius have filed this landmark, civil rights lawsuit against Jennifer Tidball, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services and Tim Decker, Director of the Children’s Division of DSS, on behalf of all minor children and youth who are or will be placed in Missouri’s foster care custody.

New Hampshire

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G.K. v. Sununu

New Hampshire is violating the constitutional and statutory rights of older youth in foster care and putting children at severe risk of dangerous and tragic outcomes, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU of New Hampshire, Disability Rights Center – NH, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Children’s Rights, and the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

New York

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C.K. v. Bassett

Children’s Rights, Disability Rights New York, National Health Law Program (NHeLP), and Proskauer Rose LLP filed C.K. v Bassett against the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) for denying Medicaid-eligible children their legal right to community-based mental health services.

North Carolina

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Timothy B. v. Kinsley

Children’s Rights, Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC), North Carolina Chapter NAACP State Conference (NC NAACP), and Moore & Van Allen filed Timothy B. v. Kinsley against the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for its pervasive, system-wide practice of unnecessarily warehousing children with disabilities in foster care in dangerous, locked psychiatric institutions—sometimes sending them out of state, hundreds of miles away from their families and communities.

Ohio

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H.C. v. DeWine

The case targets the state’s failure to provide federally mandated financial support to relatives who provide loving homes for kids in foster care.

Rhode Island

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Andrew C. v. Raimondo

Children’s Rights, Rhode Island attorney John Dineen, and international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP filed this case against the governor of the state of Rhode Island, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (“DCYF”).

South Carolina

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Michelle H. v. McMaster

On October 4, 2016, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel granted final approval of a landmark settlement that requires dramatic changes for South Carolina’s foster care system — which for years has been troubled by a shortage of foster homes, excessive caseworker caseloads, and a failure to provide basic health care to kids.

Tennessee

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Brian A. v. Haslam

On April 11, 2016 a federal judge ruled that Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) had reached all of the mandated milestones to overhaul its foster care system. The state then entered a yearlong hold period, during which it sustained its performance on every measure—the final step before requesting an end to court oversight.

Texas

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M.D. v. Abbott

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Haynes & Boone, Yetter Coleman and Canales & Simonson, filed this case against Greg Abbott, in his official capacity as Governor of Texas; Chris Traylor, in his official capacity as the Executive Commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission of Texas (HHSC); and John J. Specia, Jr, in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

Washington

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D.S. v Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families

On September 14, 2021, Leecia Welch joined Children’s Rights as a new Lead Counsel. Welch brings extensive legal experience in the child welfare field, including 16 years at the National Center for Youth Law, where she was the Senior Director of Child Welfare and Legal Advocacy specializing in child welfare, mental health, immigration, and education issues.

Wisconsin

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Jeanine B. v. Walker

Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Wisconsin, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A., and Dorsey & Whitney LLP, prosecuted this case against the Governor of Wisconsin on behalf of all Milwaukee children in child welfare custody. The Complaint and Supplemental Complaint alleged violations of children’s constitutional and federal statutory rights.
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Case Name
T.H. v. DeKalb County School District
Status
Active
Children’s Rights, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP and the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law filed T.H. v. DeKalb County School District against the DeKalb County School District (DCSD), the Georgia Department of Education, and the DeKalb County Sheriffs’ Office, along with associated state officials are named as defendants.
Child Health, Government Accountability, Youth Justice
Case Name
Kenny A. v. Deal
Status
Monitoring
Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP in Atlanta, filed this case against the governor of Georgia and state and county officials on behalf of a class of all children in Fulton and DeKalb County foster care (metropolitan Atlanta), and a class of African-American children in foster care, alleging violations of their federal and state rights to adequate protection and services while in state custody.
Child Health, Government Accountability, Youth Justice

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