On September 18, 2009, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services filed a complaint against the California Department of Social Services ("Department") under the Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 670-679b in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, is a non-profit membership organization representing the interests of group homes and foster children. Plaintiff alleged that the Department is not in compliance with the Child Welfare Act because it is not providing sufficient funding for the care and shelter of foster care children, as required by the Act. Injunctive and declaratory relief was sought.
Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that a recent 10% cut of payments to foster care homes would result in insufficient funding, as it was based solely on budgetary concerns. In an earlier case, California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby (N.D. Cal. 2006), the court held that the Department's payment of 80% of costs was in "substantial compliance" with the Act, and was therefore sufficient. Plaintiff in this case argued that the new cuts put payments below 70%, which would no longer constitute substantial compliance.
On September 25, 2009, the District Court (Judge Marilyn H. Patel) ordered the case be related to California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby.
The District Court (Judge Patel) on November 4, 2009 then issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting for ten days the implementation of the 10% budget cut. The court reasoned that this cut, because it would lower compliance to less than 70%, raised serious questions on the merits of the case. Furthermore, the interest of the foster children and homes outweighed the budgetary interest of the state.
On November 18, 2009, the District Court (Judge Patel) issued a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the defendant from implementing the budget cut until the end of the case on the merits. In deciding to issue the order, the court determined that (1) plaintiff would likely succeed in showing that payment of 70% of costs does not constitute substantial compliance, and (2) the harm to foster care children by not issuing an injunction overrode budgetary harm to the state from issuance of the injunction.
Notably, on December 14, 2009 a decision of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Pamela A. Rymer) reversed the District Court's decision in California Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby. The court held that payment of 80% of costs was in violation of the child welfare act, and the case was remanded for declaratory and injunctive relief. Cal. Alliance of Child and Family Servs. v. Allenby, 589 F.3d 1017 (9th Cir. 2009).
On April 5, 2011 the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's amended judgment entered in this case and the companion case, Alliance of Child and Family Services v. Allenby.
The case is closed as of May 1, 2011.Justin Benson - 03/26/2012