NYC Foster Care Class Action Moves Forward

     (CN) – A group of developmentally disabled children and young adults can bring a class action against the New York City foster care system for its alleged “systematic failure” to place children in good homes, New York’s highest court ruled.

     The lawsuit accuses the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) of failing to make proper referrals to the state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), resulting in the rejection of children who need the agencies’ services.
     This results in children “aging out” of the foster care system without finding a good home, according to the lawsuit.
     The city sued on behalf of seven foster children in 2004. Eleven more joined the lawsuit two years later.
     The trial court and appellate division both ruled to certify the plaintiffs’ class action. ACS protested that the case was moot, because OMRDD had given services to some of the plaintiff foster children and others are on a waiting list.
     The New York Court of Appeals ruled that the case is not moot.
      “Plaintiffs raise substantial and novel questions as to whether ACS and OMRDD are fulfilling their statutory responsibilities,” Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote. “These issues are likely to recur and may evade review given the temporary duration of foster care, the aging out of potential plaintiffs, and the fact that some placements tend to be transitory.”
     The court also ruled that the class action, which includes fewer than 200 plaintiffs, can proceed because the children “focus on four recurring and interrelated harms that are common across the class.”
     Judge Graffeo noted that a 1997 class action, Marisol A. v. Giuliani, was certified even though it included 100,000 children.

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