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Case Name C.H. v. Payne CW-IN-0001
Docket / Court 09-1574 ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On December 22, 2009, four groups of foster parents and children directly receiving foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments from the Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS"), filed a law suit against DCS and its director ("Payne") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983in the U.S. ... read more >
On December 22, 2009, four groups of foster parents and children directly receiving foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments from the Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS"), filed a law suit against DCS and its director ("Payne") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Indiana and private counsel, asked the court for injunctive relief, alleging that the DCS violated Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 670, et seq. Specifically, the plaintiffs asked the District Court to enjoin DCS from implementing a 10% reduction in foster care and adoption assistance payments.

Plaintiffs allege that DCS unlawfully reduced foster care and adoption assistance payments. DCS receives money from the federal government through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 670, et seq., from which monthly payments are made to foster parents and adoptive parents. DCS recently enacted a 10% reduction in these payments, effective in January of 2010. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 673(a)(3), the amount of foster care and adoption assistance payments must be determined by considering the circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted. Plaintiffs contend that the 10% reduction violated this provision because the reduction was motivated by budgetary constraints and was not the product of any individual assessment of the families receiving the payments or any assessment of the general costs of providing care for the children in question.

On December 22, 2009, plaintiffs moved to certify as a class all foster parents and children directly receiving foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments from DCS. On January 25, 2010, the District Court (Judge Sarah Evans Barker) granted the motion, certifying the claims of C.H. plaintiffs to proceed as a class action.

On December 28, 2010, the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies ("IARCCA"), the plaintiff in a separate action against DCS seeking to enjoin the 10% payment reduction, made an unopposed motion to consolidate cases. On January 25, 2010, the District Court (Judge Sarah Evans Barker) granted the motion to consolidate the case filed by IARCCA. On January 20, 2010, the District Court (Judge Sarah Evans Barker) issued a preliminary injunction stopping the planned 10% reduction in foster care and adoption assistance payments. DCS appealed this preliminary injunction to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on February 18, 2010. This appeal was dismissed.

On February 9, 2011, the parties executed a settlement agreement. The agreement stipulated that DCS would cease its effort to reduce foster care payments. Further, the agreement required DCS to continue to provide foster care maintenance payments of at least $25 a day until it established a method of computing the costs that satisfied the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 673(a)(3). DCS was not precluded by the settlement agreement from reducing foster care payments once it had established a new method of computing such payments. The agreement allowed foster parents to challenge the new rates once they were established through the application of the new method of payment calculation. The agreement further provided that DCS pay $104,812 in attorneys' fees and costs.



On February 25, 2011, the District Court (Judge Sarah Evans Barker) approved a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal which dismissed with prejudice the claims made by C.H. against Payne and vacated the Court's Preliminary Injunction. On the same day, the District Court (Judge Sarah Evans Barker) dismissed without prejudice the claim by IARCCA against Payne. The Joint Stipulation of Dismissal provided that the claims made in the Complaint cannot be reopened unless DCS breaches the Settlement Agreement or applicable law before 30 days after the new rates go into effect.

Mark Scoville - 03/22/2011


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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 Program, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Indiana Department of Child Services
Plaintiff Description Four classes of litigants consisting of foster parents and children directly receiving foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments from the Indiana Department of Child Services
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
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)
1:09-cv-01574-SEB-MJD (S.D. Ind.) 03/02/2011
CW-IN-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Motion to Certify Class 12/22/2009
CW-IN-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Original Complaint 12/22/2009
CW-IN-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FIRST AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF 01/10/2010
CW-IN-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ENTRY GRANTING A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION 01/26/2010 (683 F.Supp.2d 865) (S.D. Ind.)
CW-IN-0001-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Approve Form and Manner of Notice to the Class and Motion to Set Case for Fairness Hearing 11/19/2010
CW-IN-0001-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Stipulation of Dismissal 02/25/2011
CW-IN-0001-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Barker, Sarah Evans (S.D. Ind.)
CW-IN-0001-0001 | CW-IN-0001-0006 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Falk, Kenneth J. (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0002 | CW-IN-0001-0004 | CW-IN-0001-0005 | CW-IN-0001-0007 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Laramore, Jon B. (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0006 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Ricchiuto, Anne Kramer (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0006 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Rose, Gavin Minor (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0002 | CW-IN-0001-0004 | CW-IN-0001-0005 | CW-IN-0001-0007 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Sellers, April Edwards (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0006 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Isenberg, Betsy M (Indiana)
CW-IN-0001-0006 | CW-IN-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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