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Case Name California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Wagner CW-CA-0003
Docket / Court 3:09-cv-4398-MHP ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Case Summary
On September 18, 2009, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services filed a complaint against the California Department of Social Services ("Department") under the Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 670-679b in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiff, ... read more >
On September 18, 2009, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services filed a complaint against the California Department of Social Services ("Department") under the Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 670-679b in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, is a non-profit membership organization representing the interests of group homes and foster children. Plaintiff alleged that the Department is not in compliance with the Child Welfare Act because it is not providing sufficient funding for the care and shelter of foster care children, as required by the Act. Injunctive and declaratory relief was sought.

Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that a recent 10% cut of payments to foster care homes would result in insufficient funding, as it was based solely on budgetary concerns. In an earlier case, California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby (N.D. Cal. 2006), the court held that the Department's payment of 80% of costs was in "substantial compliance" with the Act, and was therefore sufficient. Plaintiff in this case argued that the new cuts put payments below 70%, which would no longer constitute substantial compliance.

On September 25, 2009, the District Court (Judge Marilyn H. Patel) ordered the case be related to California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby.



The District Court (Judge Patel) on November 4, 2009 then issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting for ten days the implementation of the 10% budget cut. The court reasoned that this cut, because it would lower compliance to less than 70%, raised serious questions on the merits of the case. Furthermore, the interest of the foster children and homes outweighed the budgetary interest of the state.

On November 18, 2009, the District Court (Judge Patel) issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the defendant from implementing the budget cut until the end of the case on the merits. In deciding to issue the order, the court determined that (1) plaintiff would likely succeed in showing that payment of 70% of costs does not constitute substantial compliance, and (2) the harm to foster care children by not issuing an injunction overrode budgetary harm to the state from issuance of the injunction.

Notably, on December 14, 2009 a decision of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Pamela A. Rymer) reversed the District Court's decision in California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby. The court held that payment of 80% of costs was in violation of the child welfare act, and the case was remanded for declaratory and injunctive relief. Cal. Alliance of Child and Family Servs. v. Allenby, 589 F.3d 1017 (9th Cir. 2009).

On April 5, 2011 the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's amended judgment entered in this case and the companion case, Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby.

The case is closed as of May 1, 2011.

Justin Benson - 03/26/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
General
Foster care (benefits, training)
Funding
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
Defendant(s) California Department of Social Services
Plaintiff Description A private non-profit membership organization that, among other things, represents the interests of group homes and the foster children for whom they provide care and supervision.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing CW-CA-0002 : California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Legal Accountability in the Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons from Child Welfare Reform
By: Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon (Center for High Impact Philanthropy , Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School)
Citation: 34 Law & Soc. Inquiry 523 (Summer 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Making Child Welfare Work: How the R.C. Lawsuit Forged New Partnerships to Protect Children and Sustain Families
By: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (Bazelon Center)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
3:09−cv−4398& (N.D. Cal.) 03/01/2010
CW-CA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF 09/18/2009
CW-CA-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Related Case Order 09/25/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
CW-CA-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Regarding Preliminary Injunction 11/04/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
CW-CA-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
MEMORANDUM & ORDER Re: Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction 11/18/2009 (2009 WL 3920364 / 2009 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 107613) (N.D. Cal.)
CW-CA-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinon 04/05/2011 (425 Fed.Appx. 660)
CW-CA-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Hug, Procter Ralph Jr. (Ninth Circuit)
CW-CA-0003-0005
Patel, Marilyn Hall (N.D. Cal.)
CW-CA-0003-0002 | CW-CA-0003-0003 | CW-CA-0003-0004 | CW-CA-0003-9000
Rawlinson, Johnnie B. (D. Nev., Ninth Circuit)
CW-CA-0003-0005
Schroeder, Mary Murphy (Ninth Circuit)
CW-CA-0003-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abrams, William F. (California)
CW-CA-0003-0001 | CW-CA-0003-9000
Lopez, Jennifer Allison (California)
CW-CA-0003-0001 | CW-CA-0003-9000
Mortenson, Michael Donn (California)
CW-CA-0003-0001 | CW-CA-0003-9000
Taggart, Craig Allen (California)
CW-CA-0003-0001 | CW-CA-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carson, Susan (California)
CW-CA-0003-9000
Prince, George D. (California)
CW-CA-0003-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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