Represented by the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, children who had been made wards of the court and placed in foster homes in Illinois brought suit on September 15, 1988, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Illinois Department of Children and Family ...
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Represented by the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, children who had been made wards of the court and placed in foster homes in Illinois brought suit on September 15, 1988, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), alleging violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Adoptive Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 620-628, 670-679. The plaintiffs challenged the defendants' practice of placing siblings in separate homes and denying them the opportunity to visit each other.
Defendants moved for summary judgment in 1989. The court (Judge Ann C. Williams) did not reject the First Amendment claim regarding the plaintiffs' right to associate with their siblings, nor the Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights claims regarding plaintiff's liberty interest in their relationships with their siblings. However, the court (Judge Williams) did dismiss the claim under the Adoptive Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. Aristotle P. v. Johnson, 721 F. Supp. 1002 (N.D. Il. 1989).
In October 1989, the court (Judge Williams) certified a class of plaintiffs consisting of children in the custody or guardianship of DCFS, who are subjects of neglect, dependency or abuse petitions and have not been placed with their siblings in foster homes, and have been denied regular and reasonable visitation with their siblings.
The parties conferred on potential settlement during most of 1990-1993. In December 1993, the plaintiffs and defendants proposed a consent decree. The following March, a notice of class action went out to all children who are subjects of abuse, neglect, or dependency positions in the Juvenile Court of Cook County. After a fairness hearing, the court (Judge Williams) approved the consent decree on March 11, 1994.
The terms of the consent decree established minimum visitation rights for siblings who cannot be placed together for well-defined reasons. DCFS must provide written notice to siblings upon a decision that they cannot have joint placements and upon any decision to change a sibling placement. Transportation subsidies are provided to foster parents who transport children and supervise sibling visitation. Agencies who contract with DCFS and who do not comply with the consent decree are subject to monetary sanctions.
In February 1997, the parties made a joint motion to extend the consent decree to 1999. The parties subsequently filed joint motions to extend the consent decree until 2012. In May 2012, the (Judge Charles R. Norgle, Sr.) granted another two-year extension. On February 23, 2015, the court (Judge Norgle) again extended the consent decree by two years and ordered defendant to comply with plaintiffs’ 2013 discovery requests.Elizabeth Homan - 11/29/2012
Frances Hollander - 02/21/2016