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Case Name Burgos v. DCFS CW-IL-0008
Docket / Court 1:75-cv-03974 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization MALDEF
Case Summary
On November 20, 1975, this class action was filed by several Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, who alleged that they and their children, who were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), were being discriminated against based ... read more >
On November 20, 1975, this class action was filed by several Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, who alleged that they and their children, who were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), were being discriminated against based on their race and national origin. They were represented by the Mexican American Legal Defence Fund, and sought injunctive relief under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, against DCFS and several of its officers.

The suit resulted in a Consent Decree, dated January 14, 1977, wherein DCFS agreed to make appropriate services and documents available in Spanish and to hire bilingual employees to work in specific certain areas. Spanish documents, including forms and informational brochures, were to be made available in numbers proportional to the Spanish-speaking community. The Decree required all Hispanic clients be informed of their rights under the Decree and how to maintain those rights. The Decree required that Spanish-language signs announcing the availability of these services in Spanish be posted in all metro-Chicago DCFS offices, displaying a phone number where a bilingual ombudsperson could be reached. It required DFCS to place children whose first language was Spanish with Spanish-speaking foster parents. Where bilingual social workers were not available, the Decree required that social workers assigned to Spanish-speaking clients be accompanied by an interpreter.

According to a summary of the Burgos Consent Decree, available here, the Court issued an agreed order in December of 1990 indicating that the DCFS was not in compliance with the Decree and appointing a Special Master. The Special Master prepared a compliance report, which led to the March 1992 the appointment of a permanent Court Monitor to oversee DCFS' compliance with the Decree. The docket last mentions the Monitor in 1999, and so it is unclear whether this position still exists.

The Consent Decree does not have an expiration date, and is still in force. The Court docket shows occasional activity, but no substantive orders have been issued for many years. It appears that at least as recently as 2010, DFCS did not have sufficient numbers of bilingual staff to meet the requirements of the decree, according to a state-issued DCFS Compliance Report available here.

Alex Colbert-Taylor - 07/16/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Family discrimination
Language discrimination
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Language
Spanish
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Plaintiff Description Class of Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, whose children were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations MALDEF
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1977 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
1:75−cv−03974 (N.D. Ill.) 09/01/2010
CW-IL-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Consent Decree 01/14/1977
CW-IL-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Burgos Consent Decree [informational brochure for DCFS clients] 04/11/2011
CW-IL-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges McMillen, Thomas Roberts (N.D. Ill.)
CW-IL-0008-0001
Zagel, James Block (N.D. Ill., FISC)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alop, Alan A (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-0001
Mendoza, Patricia (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Meza, Ricardo (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Rivas, Alonzo (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Valdez, Maria G. (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Goodman, Karen R. (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-0001
Purves, Samuel A (Illinois)
CW-IL-0008-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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