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 ...
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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