Plaintiff, a child in foster care represented by a legal aid attorney, brought suit in 1983 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Hamilton County Department of Human Services (HCDHS) and the Ohio Department of Human Services (ODHS) alleging violations of the ...
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Plaintiff, a child in foster care represented by a legal aid attorney, brought suit in 1983 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Hamilton County Department of Human Services (HCDHS) and the Ohio Department of Human Services (ODHS) alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq. The complaint claimed that children in foster care and their parents did not receive proper pre-removal and reunification services. We have very few documents related to this case.
In August 1984, the court certified a class, and the parties began extensive discovery. Meanwhile, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment and injunctive relief against the county defendants. The parties were proceeding towards trial, but they entered into a consent decree on August 26, 1986.
The consent decree required HCDHS to develop case plans for each child in its custody; to provide procedural protections for parents; to ensure parent-child visitation was available; to provide reunification services to children and families; and to conduct a needs assessment of the agency. In a separate consent decree with ODHS, the benefits of the settlement with Hamilton County were extended statewide. Furthermore, ODHS committed to issue regulations to improve program standards for children's service agencies.
In February 1990, the plaintiffs moved for an order of contempt against the state for noncompliance. Subsequently, the state provided a corrective action plan in December 1990. In November 1991, the court appointed an expert panel to oversee the state defendant's compliance with the settlement.
In August 1992, the county entered a modified consent judgment. In May 1998, the court found that the county met the conditions of the consent judgment, and therefore the court terminated the consent judgment.
The state implemented a Child Protection Oversight and Evaluation (CPOE) system in 2000; the court suspended some measures of the consent decree while the state implemented CPOE. In 2002, the state moved to modify the consent judgment. In response, the court directed the parties to mediation and appointed an expert panel to report on the progress of the mediation. In April 2006, the Court ended the appointment of the expert panels and required the parties to submit an amended consent decree. In July 2006, the parties provided the amendments. The court ordered the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to provide continuing on-site monitoring of the county agency. Additionally, the court ordered compliance with 45 C.F.R. 1357.15 through the completion of statewide needs assessments. An expert monitored compliance with the consent decree. In 2007, the court awarded attorneys' fees and costs to the plaintiffs. Even though the consent decree provides for ongoing monitoring of compliance efforts, there have been no docket entries since early 2007. Elizabeth Homan - 12/02/2012