On May 12, 2010, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York alleging that New York's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) routinely forces children in foster care to be unnecessarily institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals rather than ...
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On May 12, 2010, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York alleging that New York's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) routinely forces children in foster care to be unnecessarily institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals rather than placed in home-like settings. The plaintiffs alleged that ACS was using placement in psychiatric institutions as punishment for misbehavior and that many children placed in these hospitals did not have a diagnosis of mental illness. The plaintiffs also alleged that children are forced to stay in institutions long after it is determined that they can be placed in a less restrictive environment, but that ACS's policies make discharge difficult.
The named plaintiffs, three currently institutionalized children, requested their release from institutions. They also sought to represent a class of children and demanded that the court order ACS to discontinue its "illegal pattern and practice of 'dumping' children in foster care in psychiatric hospitals and refusing to let them out." The plaintiffs alleged that these policies violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, state laws and regulations, the New York Constitution, and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The case moved quickly toward settlement, with the parties stipulating to certify the class and postpone a hearing on the Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. In November 2010, the parties submitted a settlement agreement to the court for preliminary approval. The court (Judge Brian M. Cogan) held a fairness hearing on March 11, 2011, and gave its approval to the terms of the Stipulation and Order of Settlement filed on February 28, 2010.
In the settlement, ACS agreed to promulgate new policies and procedures with respect to the placement of children in foster care in institutions. ACS will improve tracking, monitoring, and individualized planning so that children are not ignored and left to languish in institutions. They also agreed to develop new training programs for ACS staff and contractors. The agreement also provides for ongoing monitoring. A separate agreement, entered on June 29, 2011, provided specific relief (including damages and attorney fees) to the three named plaintiffs. On July 7, 2011, the court (Judge Cogan) entered a settlement order, in which the parties agreed to dismiss all claims and release defendants from liability in exchange for payment. The case was then dismissed with prejudice.
On January 22, 2016, the parties filed a joint motion to alter the judgment. Judge Cogan signed the Stipulation and Order of Settlement the same day. The amended agreement extended the jurisdiction of the Court over the matter for an additional four months, until June 30, 2016, with the potential for extension of such jurisdiction for six months from the time the Court's jurisdiction was scheduled to terminate.Beth Kurtz - 02/15/2013
Frances Hollander - 02/21/2016