The following document was recovered by fixcas from the
website of Rick Thoma.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MARISOL A., by her next friend, :
Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr.;
LAWRENCE B., by his next friend, :
Professor Mitchell I. Ginsberg;
THOMAS C., by his next friend, :
Dr. Margaret T. McHugh; SHAUNA D.,
by her next friend, Professor Kathryn :
Conroy; OZZIE E., by his next friends,
Jill Chaifetz and Kim Hawkins; :
DARREN F. and DAVID F., by their
next friends, Juan A. Figueroa and :
Rev. Marvin J. Owens; BILL G. and
VICTORIA G., by their next friend, :
Sister Dolores Gartanutti; BRANDON H.,
by his next friend, Thomas J. Moloney; :
and STEVEN I., by his next friend,
Kevin Ryan, on their own behalf and on : COMPLAINT FOR
behalf of and all others similarly DECLARATORY AND
situated, : INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
Plaintiffs, : CLASS ACTION
--against-- : 95-Civ. - ________
RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI, Mayor of the City :
of New York; MARVA LIVINGSTON HAMMONS,
Administrator of the Human Resources :
Administration and Commissioner of the
Department of Social Services of the :
City of New York; KATHRYN CROFT,
Executive Deputy Commissioner of the :
City Child Welfare Administration of
the City of New York; GEORGE E. PATAKI, :
Governor of the State of New York; and
BRIAN J. WING, Acting Commissioner :
of the Department of Social Services
of the State of New York, :
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
JURISDICTION AND VENUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
PARTIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Named Plaintiffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Defendants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
STRUCTURE OF THE NEW YORK CITY CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM. . . . . . 15
LEGAL FRAMEWORK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
The United States Constitution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
The Adoption Assistance and Child
Welfare Act of 1980 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. . . . . . . 22
The Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening,
Diagnosis and Treatment Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 . . . . . . . . . . 24
The Americans With Disabilities Act and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
The New York State Constitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
The New York State Social Services Law,
Family Court Act and Regulations. . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REGARDING NAMED PLAINTIFFS . . . . . . . . 27
Marisol A.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Lawrence B. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Thomas C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Shauna D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Ozzie E.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Darren F. and David F.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Bill G. and Victoria G. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Brandon H.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Steven I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REGARDING SYSTEMIC DEFICIENCIES. . . . . . 62
Protective Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Preventive Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Permanency Planning for Children. . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Assessments and Case Plans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Out-Of-Home Placements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Services to Foster Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Health Care and Related Services . . . . . . . . . . 76
Educational Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Reunification Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Adoption Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Independent Living Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Caseworker Screening, Training,
Retention and Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Monitoring and Supervision of Private Agencies. . . . . . 87
Administrative and Judicial Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Information System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9l
Ineffective Maximization of Resources . . . . . . . . . . 93
Lack of Planning, and Prevailing Priorities . . . . . . . 94
HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE
AND DEFENDANTS' KNOWLEDGE OF THIS FAILURE. . . . . . . . . . . 96
CAUSES OF ACTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102
PRAYER FOR RELIEF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107
1. This is a civil rights action on behalf of all children
who are or will be in the custody of the New York City Child
Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and those children who, while not
in the custody of CWA, are or will be at risk of abuse or neglect
and whose status is known or should be known to CWA. Defendants
in this action have systematically denied these children their
rights under the United States Constitution, federal statutes,
the New York State Constitution, state laws and regulations, and
the State plans provided to the federal government as a condition
of receiving federal funds to support the state's child welfare
2. The child protection system supervised and operated by
defendants presents the opportunity to help vulnerable children
and give them a chance for a decent childhood. Instead, and at
great public expense, defendants are producing new generations of
young people so damaged by their childhood that they will be
unable to function as independent, productive adults.
3. There are now approximately 43,000 children in foster
care in New York City. Countless thousands more are the subjects
of abuse and neglect allegations. Defendants' failure to protect
these children and provide them and their families with
appropriate, legally required services has jeopardized their
health, education, safety, essential sense of stability and
permanency, and developmental well-being. In some instances, as
the recent death of Elisa Izquierdo has once again tragically
demonstrated, defendants' failures also jeopardize these
children's very lives.
4. New York City has perhaps the most dysfunctional child
welfare system in the country, despite the fact that New York
State spends more per capita than any other state on child
welfare and most of this expense is incurred in New York City.
Children in need of foster care placement often get turned away
at the door, while those children who wind up in placement spend
a substantial part of their childhood growing up in government
5. Despite the increasing needs of children, the foster
care placement rate in New York City is declining. The average
length of stay in foster care for New York City children,
however, has increased seventy-five percent since 1988. It is
now 4.2 years, as compared to a national average of 1.4 years.
6. As a direct result of defendants' pattern of actions
and inactions, New York City's child welfare system is rife with
systemic deficiencies that prevent it from meeting constitutional
and statutory requirements. Among other failings:
a. defendants fail to appropriately accept reports of
child abuse and neglect for investigation;
b. defendants fail to investigate those reports of
child abuse and neglect that are accepted in the time and
manner required by law;
c. defendants fail to provide mandated preplacement
preventive services to enable children at risk of being
placed in foster care to remain at home safely with their
families whenever possible;
d. defendants fail to provide children in need of
foster care placement with the least restrictive, most
family-like placements designed to meet their individual
e. defendants fail to provide foster children, their
birth families and their foster families with the services
necessary to ensure that the children do not deteriorate
physically, psychologically, educationally or otherwise
while in CWA's custody;
f. defendants fail to provide foster children
suffering from disabilities, including but not limited to
those with HIV and AIDS, with placements and services
appropriate to their individual needs and necessary to allow
these children fully to participate in the City's child
g. defendants fail to provide foster children with
appropriate case management, case plans and the services
required by the case plans to ensure that they do not spend
their entire childhoods in foster care, but rather are
returned home or discharged to alternative permanent
placements as quickly as possible;
h. defendants fail to provide children for whom
adoption is appropriate with services necessary to ensure
that they are adopted quickly and do not languish needlessly
in foster care;
i. defendants fail to provide teenage children who
will leave the foster care system to live on their own with
services adequate to prepare them to live independently;
j. defendants fail to provide foster children with
the administrative, judicial and dispositional reviews to
which they are legally entitled, and with the services
ordered at these reviews;
k. defendants fail to provide caseworkers with
sufficient training, support and supervision to enable them
to serve children and families in accordance with the law
and reasonable professional standards; and
l. defendants fail to maintain an adequate
information system to monitor, track and plan for children,
and to manage the child welfare system in a manner that is
both cost effective and complies with the law.
7. There has been extraordinary turnover in both the
leadership of the agency and the corps of front-line caseworkers.
Many CWA administrators are political appointees who lack the
skills, experience and support necessary to engage in appropriate
problem-solving or long-term, strategic planning on CWA's behalf.
They cannot and do not provide necessary, professional guidance
and support to their subordinates. High level city officials
have not provided the leadership, support or pressure necessary
to ensure that the child welfare system complies with the law and
provides adequate protection and services to New York City's most
8. CWA contracts for the provision of the vast majority of
child welfare services with a series of private agencies. While
CWA maintains legal responsibility for all children in the child
welfare system, it delegates much of the day-to-day provision of
services to these agencies. These private agencies are not
properly monitored or supervised. Some provide excellent
services; others do not. CWA has no consistent, rigorous system
for ensuring that agencies are held accountable for providing
quality services in accordance with the law. In many instances
CWA's own administrative requirements make it impossible for even
the most diligent agencies to perform necessary tasks in a manner
consistent with reasonable professional standards.
9. In recent years, all of these deficiencies have been
repeatedly documented in reports by the New York State
Comptroller's Office, the New York City Comptroller's Office, the
New York City Office of the Public Advocate, the Child Fatality
Review Panel, academicians and various other groups. Defendants
have thus long been well aware of their systemic, ongoing failure
to adequately serve the children who depend on defendants for
their health, their safety, and sometimes for their very lives.
Although defendants have from time to time engaged in superficial
reform efforts, few if any meaningful changes have resulted. In
fact, the lack of even basic reliable data regarding children in
the system renders it essentially impossible for defendants to
monitor these children and effect essential improvements. The
deprivations experienced by New York City's most vulnerable
children thus have worsened significantly over time, leading to
the desperate conditions prevailing today.
10. And despite the inadequacy of New York City's child
welfare system today, current signs portend much worse. CWA's
every recent "reform" effort has been aimed -- baldly and
exclusively -- not at providing improved services or even at
eliminating expensive waste and inefficiency caused by
mismanagement, but only at reducing expenditures for vulnerable
children and families.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
11. This is an action pursuant to 42 United States Code §
1983, alleging violations of the United States Constitution,
federal statutes, the New York State Constitution, and state
statutes and regulations. This court has jurisdiction over the
federal claims pursuant to 28 United States Code §§ 1331 and
1343(a)(3), and over the state claims pursuant to the doctrine of
pendent, or supplemental, jurisdiction pursuant to 28 United
States Code § 1367(a).
12. Venue in this district is proper pursuant to 28 United
States Code § 1391(b) because the claims arise in the district.
Although the Child Welfare Administration -- the agency most
directly responsible for the pattern of failures alleged
herein -- is responsible for children from all five boroughs of
New York City, including those boroughs in the Eastern District
of New York, all of CWA's administrative and managerial functions
are operated out of its headquarters, which is located in the
Southern District of New York.
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS
13. This action is properly maintained as a class action
pursuant to Rule 23 (a) & (b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
14. The class is defined as:
All children who are or will be in the custody of
the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"),
and those children who, while not in the custody of
CWA, are or will be at risk of neglect or abuse and
whose status is known or should be known to CWA.
15. The plaintiff class is sufficiently numerous. There
are approximately 43,000 children in the custody of CWA. Tens of
thousands of additional children are victims of alleged child
abuse or neglect and are known or should be known to CWA. In
fiscal year 1995, more than 75,000 New York City children were
the subjects of abuse or neglect allegations. Upon information
and belief, in total the class numbers well over 100,000
16. The questions of law and fact raised by the claims of
the named plaintiffs are common to and typical of those raised by
the claims of the putative class members. Each named plaintiff
and each putative class member is in need of child welfare
services, must rely on defendants for the provision of those
services, and is subject to CWA's systemic deficiencies.
17. Common questions of fact include:
a. whether defendants fail to accept reports of child
abuse and neglect for investigation as required by law;
b. whether defendants fail to investigate reports of
child abuse and neglect in the manner and within the time
periods required by law;
c. whether defendants fail to offer legally mandated
services to children at risk of foster care placement to
avert that risk;
d. whether defendants fail to provide children in
their custody with safe, secure foster care placements that
comply with national standards, as required by law;
e. whether defendants fail to provide foster children
with legally required services necessary to prevent them
from deteriorating physically and psychologically while in
state custody, including but not limited to appropriate
medical and educational services;
f. whether defendants fail to provide foster children
with disabilities with placements and services appropriate
to their particular needs, as required by law; and
g. whether defendants fail to create and implement
appropriate, legally mandated plans for children to assure
their proper care and their prompt placement in permanent
18. Common questions of law include:
a. whether defendants' actions and inactions violate
plaintiffs' rights under the First, Ninth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution;
b. whether defendants' actions and inactions violate
plaintiffs' rights under the Adoption Assistance and Child
Welfare Act of 1980, 42 United States Code §§ 620-628, 670-
679a; the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42
United States Code §§ 5101-5106a; the Early and Periodic
Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program of the Medicaid
Act, 42 United States Code §§ 1396a, 1396d(a) & (r); the
Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, 42 United States Code §
622(b)(9); the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 United
States Code §§ 12101 et seq.; and the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 United States Code § 794, 794a; and
c. whether defendants' actions and inactions violate
plaintiffs' rights under Article XVII of the New York State
Constitution; the New York State Social Services Law,
Articles 2, 3, 6 & 7; the New York State Family Court Act,
Articles 6 & 10; and applicable State regulations codified
at 18 N.Y.C.R.R., §§ 400-484.
19. The legal violations alleged by the named plaintiffs
are typical of those raised by the claims of each and every
member of the putative class. The harms suffered by the named
plaintiffs are typical of the harms suffered by all children
20. The named plaintiffs will fairly and adequately protect
the interests of the class. They are represented by attorneys
employed by Children's Rights, Inc., a privately-funded, non-
profit organization (formerly the Children's Rights Project of
the American Civil Liberties Union) with extensive experience in
complex class action litigation involving child welfare systems,
and by attorneys employed by Lawyers for Children, Inc., a non-
profit organization with extensive experience representing
thousands of individual New York City foster children each year.
Plaintiffs' counsel have the resources, expertise and experience
to prosecute this action. Each named plaintiff child appears by
a next friend, and each next friend is sufficiently familiar with
the facts and circumstances of the child's situation to represent
the child's interests in this litigation.
21. Defendants have acted or refused to act on grounds
generally applicable to the class, making declaratory and
injunctive relief with respect to the class as a whole
appropriate and necessary. Counsel for the plaintiffs know of no
conflicts among members of the class.
22. Plaintiff MARISOL A.1 is a five-year-old girl who
entered foster care a few months after her birth, and has
1 To protect their confidentiality, the plaintiff
children in this action appear by pseudonym.
remained in foster care for much of her life. She is in CWA's
custody, and resides in a foster home.
23. Marisol appears in this action by her next friend, Rev.
Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr. Reverend Forbes is the Senior
Minister of The Riverside Church in Manhattan.
24. Plaintiff LAWRENCE B. is a seventeen-year-old boy who
entered foster care in January, 1995. He is in CWA's custody and
has been placed in a group home, but is now an in-patient at Beth
Israel Medical Center where he is being treated for AIDS-related
25. Lawrence appears in this action by his next friend,
Mitchell I. Ginsberg, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Columbia
University School of Social Work.
26. Plaintiff THOMAS C. is a fifteen-year-old boy who has
been in foster care since the age of seven. He is in CWA's
custody, and has been placed in a group home.
27. Thomas appears in this action by his next friend, Dr.
Margaret T. McHugh. Dr. McHugh is a Clinical Associate Professor
of Pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine, and
the Director of Adolescent Ambulatory Services and the Child
Protection Team at Bellevue Hospital Center.
28. Plaintiff SHAUNA D. is a two-year-old girl, about whom
CWA has received an abuse and neglect complaint that the agency
has failed to investigate.
29. Shauna appears in this action by her next friend,
Professor Kathryn Conroy. Professor Conroy is Assistant Dean and
Director of Field Work at the Columbia University School of
30. Plaintiff OZZIE E. is a fourteen-year-old boy who
entered foster care in April, 1995. He is in CWA's custody, and
now resides in a group home.
31. Ozzie appears in this action by his next friends, Jill
Chaifetz and Kim Hawkins. Ms. Chaifetz is the Legal Director,
and Ms. Hawkins is a Staff Attorney, at The Door -- A Center of
Alternatives, a multi-service center for youth in Soho.
32. Plaintiff DARREN F. is a seven-year-old boy who has
been in foster care for virtually his entire life. He is in the
custody of CWA, and is now in a residential treatment center.
33. Plaintiff DAVID F., Darren F.'s twin brother, has also
spent most of his life in foster care. He is in the custody of
CWA, and is in the same residential treatment center as his twin
34. Darren and David appear in this action by their next
friends, Juan A. Figueroa and Reverend Marvin J. Owens. Mr.
Figueroa is President and General Counsel of the Puerto Rican
Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Reverend Owens is the
Minister of the Williamsburg Christian Church in Brooklyn.
35. Plaintiff BILL G. is a fourteen-year-old boy who has
spent virtually his entire life in foster care. He is now in the
custody of CWA, and lives in a foster home.
36. Plaintiff VICTORIA G., who is Bill G.'s sister, is a
ten-year-old girl who also has spent virtually her entire life in
foster care. She is in the custody of CWA, and lives in the same
foster home as her brother Bill.
37. Bill and Victoria appear in this action by their next
friend Sister Dolores Gartanutti. Sister Gartanutti the founder
and Director of Noah's Ark, an emergency shelter for adolescent
youth in Ozone Park, Queens, and Vice-President of the Empire
State Coalition of Youth and Family Services.
38. Plaintiff BRANDON H. is a seven-year-old boy who has
lived his entire life in foster care. He is in the custody of
CWA, and lives in a foster home.
39. Brandon appears in this action by his next friend,
Thomas J. Moloney. Mr. Moloney is a partner in the law firm of
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and the Chairman of the
Committee on Legal Assistance of the Association of the Bar of
the City of New York.
40. Plaintiff STEVEN Z. is a sixteen-year-old boy who has
lived his entire life in foster care. He is in the custody of
CWA and is assigned to a group home, but is now living primarily
on the streets.
41. Steven appears in this action by his next friend, Kevin
Ryan. Mr. Ryan is the Deputy Director of the Legal Services
Office at Covenant House, a shelter for homeless and runaway
42. Defendant RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI is the Mayor of the City
of New York, and is sued in his official capacity. He is
responsible for ensuring that all New York City agencies comply
with all applicable federal and state law, pursuant to the
Charter of the City of New York, Ch. 1, §§ 3 & 8.
43. Defendant MARVA LIVINGSTON HAMMONS is the Administrator
of the Human Resources Administration and the Commissioner of
Social Services of the City of New York, and is sued in her
official capacities. She is responsible for the welfare of all
children in need of public assistance, care, support or
protection who reside in New York City; for overseeing the
administration of CWA; and for ensuring compliance by the New
York City Human Resources Administration ("HRA"), by CWA, and by
the private agencies with which CWA contracts with all applicable
federal and state law, pursuant to the Charter of the City of New
York, Ch. 24, §§ 603-604, and New York City Executive Order No.
44. Defendant KATHRYN CROFT is the Executive Deputy
Commissioner of the New York City Child Welfare Administration,
and is sued in her official capacity. She is responsible for
CWA's policies, practices and operation, and for ensuring that
CWA and the private agencies with which it contracts comply with
all applicable federal and state law.
45. Defendant GEORGE E. PATAKI is the Governor of the State
of New York, and is sued in his official capacity. He is
responsible for ensuring that government agencies in the state,
including the Department of Social Services, comply with all
applicable federal and state law, pursuant to Article IV, § 3 of
the New York State Constitution and New York State Executive Law
46. Defendant BRIAN J. WING is the Acting Commissioner of
the New York State Department of Social Services, and is sued in
his official capacity. He is responsible for the policies,
practices and operation of the New York State Department of
Social Services ("DSS"), and for ensuring DSS's compliance with
all relevant federal and state law, pursuant to New York State
Social Services Law §§ 11, 12 & 17.
STRUCTURE OF THE NEW YORK CITY
CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
47. New York City's child welfare system has an unusually
complex structure involving the City, the State and numerous
48. Children in foster care in New York City are in the
legal custody of the New York City Commissioner of Social
Services, who delegates her authority over them to CWA.2 CWA,
in turn, assigns the majority of these children's day-to-day care
to a group of approximately seventy private, "voluntary"
agencies. However, by law, CWA always maintains legal custody
and legal responsibility for all foster children, and the private
2 It is common practice in New York City to refer to
foster children as being "in the custody of CWA." As CWA itself
follows this practice, this complaint will as well.
agencies act as CWA's agents in executing CWA's responsibilities
to the children and their families.3
49. Most children enter the foster care system after a
family court finds, pursuant to Article 10 of the Family Court
Act, that the child is in danger of abuse or neglect if left with
his/her family. Additionally, some children are voluntarily
placed in foster care by their parents. This voluntary placement
must be approved by the family court, and once in care these
children's status and treatment does not differ significantly
from that of children placed as a result of an Article 10
50. Once in foster care, most children are placed, by CWA,
with a voluntary agency. That agency, in turn, places the
children in either a foster home (which is the least restrictive,
most family-like setting), a group home or a residential
treatment center ("RTC"). The latter are the most restrictive
settings, properly reserved only for older children with severe
51. For those foster children whom CWA places with private
agencies, the agency assumes "case planning" responsibility for
3 Both New York State, through its Department of Social
Services ("DSS"), and HRA have legal responsibility for
overseeing CWA to ensure that CWA complies with all applicable
federal and state laws. Moreover, DSS has a further
responsibility to ensure that CWA complies with all elements of
the state plans which DSS signs as a condition of receiving child
welfare funds from the United States Department of Health and
Human Services. The State also provides funding to the City
which is spent on child welfare services.
the child. As part of this responsibility, the agency must
complete case plans -- known as uniform case records, or
"UCRs" -- for each child, describing the child's status, the
child's physical and mental health needs, and whether the child's
permanency goal is family reunification, adoption or independent
living. The agency case plan must also list the services
necessary to meet the needs identified in the UCRs, as well as
services necessary to help the child achieve his/her permanency
goal. Finally, the agency must provide, or ensure the provision
of, all the services deemed necessary in the case plan.
52. CWA maintains "case management" responsibility for
these children. Such responsibility includes: reviewing the UCRs
to make sure they are properly and professionally completed;
ensuring that each child has an appropriate permanency goal, and
is making progress toward that goal; overseeing and supervising
the private agencies to ensure that all necessary services are
actually being provided; and ensuring that agency activities
conform with applicable laws and regulations.
53. In addition to children whom CWA places with private
agencies, CWA also provides foster care directly for
approximately 12,000 children, through its Division of Foster
Care Services ("DFCS"). In such cases, CWA has both case
planning and case management responsibility.
54. Finally, throughout every child's stay in foster care,
the child's status must be periodically reviewed to ensure that
the child is not lost in the system or allowed to drift without
progress towards a permanency goal. CWA is obligated to schedule
administrative and judicial reviews for this purpose, and to
provide information sufficient to support reasoned
decision-making at the hearings.
55. Beyond caring for foster children, both the City and
State have certain legal obligations to protect all New York City
children from abuse and neglect. To this end, DSS is legally
required to maintain a telephone "hotline" for receiving
allegations of child abuse or neglect. CWA, in turn, is legally
mandated to commence an investigation of such reports within
twenty-four hours, to complete an initial investigation within
seven days, and to complete a full investigation within sixty
56. When reports of suspected abuse or neglect are found to
be "indicated" -- i.e., when some credible evidence of the
alleged abuse or neglect exists -- CWA must either provide
necessary services to the family to enable the child to safely
remain at home, or, when that is not appropriate, must remove the
child from the home and place the child in foster care.
57. Plaintiffs allege that defendants are violating their
rights under the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution; the Adoption Assistance and Child
Welfare Act of 1980 ("Adoption Assistance Act"), 42 United States
Code §§ 620-27, 670-79a; the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment
Act ("CAPTA"), 42 United States Code §§ 5101-06a; the Early and
Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment ("EPSDT") program of
the Medicaid Act, 42 United States Code §§ 1396a, 1396d(a) & (r);
the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, 42 United States Code §
622(b)(9); the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 United
States Code §§ 12101 et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
("Rehabilitation Act"), 29 United States Code § 794, 794a;
Article XVII of the New York State Constitution; New York State
Social Services Law, Articles 2, 3, 6 & 7; the New York State
Family Court Act, Articles 6 & 10; the state regulations
governing the child welfare system, 18 N.Y.C.R.R., §§ 400-484;
and the state plans provided to the federal Department of Health
and Human Services as a condition of receiving federal funds for
the operation of New York State's child welfare program, of which
New York City's child welfare program is a part.
58. Taken together, these statutes and constitutional
standards establish a broad range of specific duties that must be
followed by defendants in administering New York City's child
The United States Constitution
59. The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States
Constitution guarantees to each child in state custody the right
to be free from harm. That right encompasses the right to
treatment in accordance with reasonable professional standards,
and the right to the services necessary to prevent children from
deteriorating physically, psychologically or otherwise while in
state care, including but not limited to safe, secure foster care
placements, appropriate monitoring and supervision, case planning
and management, permanency planning and medical, psychiatric,
psychological and educational services.
60. The First and Ninth Amendments guarantee the rights to
privacy and family integrity, and grant children the right not to
be removed from their families absent a showing of compelling
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980
61. The federal Adoption Assistance Act requires defendants
to implement and operate in New York City:
a. a preplacement preventive services program
designed to help children remain with their families, when
b. a service program designed to help children, when
appropriate, return to the families from which they have
been removed, and when this is not possible to be placed for
adoption or legal guardianship; and
c. an information system from which the status,
demographic characteristics, location and goal of every
foster child can readily be determined.
62. The Adoption Assistance Act and relevant regulations
further require that defendants take the steps necessary to
a. foster family homes and child care institutions
are licensed, relicensed and operated in conformity with
appropriate national standards;
b. each child in need of a foster care placement is
placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting
available, consistent with her best interests and individual
c. each foster child is provided with a written case
plan, containing specified elements, that is reviewed and
updated at specified intervals, and that services are
provided in accordance with that plan;
d. each foster child receives proper care while in
state custody and that she, her parents and her foster
parents receive the services necessary to address her needs
and to assure her return home or her referral to an
alternative permanent placement;
e. the status of each foster child is reviewed once
every six months either administratively or judicially to
determine the continuing necessity for and appropriateness
of placement, the extent of compliance with the child's case
plan and the extent of progress which has been made toward
alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement
in foster care; and
f. each foster child receives a dispositional hearing
by a family court no later than 18 months after her original
placement and periodically thereafter to determine and
evaluate the status of and plan for the child.
63. Under the Adoption Assistance Act, states receive
certain federal reimbursements so long as they have a plan
approved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services
and comply with its terms. The State of New York receives
federal funding under the Act and has submitted such a plan,
certifying to the federal government that it provides the child
welfare services required by the Act. Children eligible for
those child welfare services are the intended beneficiaries of
the State plan.
64. The Plan incorporates provisions of the New York State
Social Services Law, the New York State Family Court Act, and
each statute's implementing regulations. These incorporated
provisions have the force of law and are binding on DSS, HRA and
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
65. The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
requires that defendants take the steps necessary to ensure,
among other things, that:
a. a system is in place to receive allegations of
suspected child abuse or neglect;
b. reports of suspected child abuse or neglect are
investigated promptly, and immediate steps are taken to
protect abused or neglected children and children in danger
of abuse or neglect; and
c. DSS, HRA and CWA have in effect the procedures,
training, personnel programs, services and facilities to
adequately address cases of child abuse and neglect.
66. New York State receives federal funding under this
statute, and both the State and New York City are bound by its
The Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening,
Diagnosis and Treatment Program
67. The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and
Treatment ("EPSDT") portion of the federal Medicaid Act is
designed to ensure that all Medicaid-eligible children up to the
age of twenty-one receive comprehensive physical, developmental
and mental health care. All foster children in New York City are
eligible for Medicaid, and are therefore entitled to receive the
comprehensive health care required by the EPSDT program.
68. And because foster children are in the legal custody of
CWA, it is CWA's obligation to ensure that these children
actually receive the full panoply of health services under EPSDT,
including but not limited to:
a. periodic comprehensive health screenings, at age-
appropriate intervals deemed proper by a board of medical
professionals, including general physical examinations, eye
examinations, dental examinations, hearing examinations,
lead blood tests, vaccinations or boosters, and mental
health examinations, all performed by competent medical
b. any and all follow-up physical or mental health
service or treatment deemed necessary to treat or address
any condition diagnosed at any periodic screening, performed
in a timely manner by competent medical professionals,
regardless of whether any such treatment or service is
otherwise covered by the New York State Medicaid plan.
The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994
69. The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 requires that
public agencies engage in aggressive efforts to recruit potential
foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial and ethnic
diversity of the children for whom such foster and adoptive
placements are needed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
70. The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination
against individuals with handicaps or disabilities in federally
funded programs. These laws require that programs such as child
welfare and foster care programs be administered to enable
children with handicaps or disabilities to participate fully in,
and receive all the benefits of, the programs. The protections
of the ADA extend not only to children with physical
disabilities, but also to children with mental health problems,
or cognitive medical disabilities, including children with AIDS.
The New York State Constitution
71. Article XVII of the New York State Constitution
guarantees the right to appropriate aid to all persons in New
York State deemed to be "needy," and the right of all persons so
designated to not have this aid arbitrarily or capriciously
denied. Abused or neglected children and foster children are
needy, and are thus entitled to a variety of services delineated
in New York State statutes and regulations.
The New York State Social Services Law,
Family Court Act and State Regulations
72. State law pertaining to the provision of child welfare
services is set forth in the New York State Social Services Law,
the New York State Family Court Act, and applicable regulations.
These laws require, among other things, that defendants take the
steps necessary to:
a. operate a system for receiving allegations of
child abuse or neglect; initiate investigations into reports
of child abuse and neglect within twenty-four hours; conduct
a full investigation, including a home visit with a face-to-
face interview with the child, and obtain information from
collateral sources such as schools, hospitals, police and
social service agencies; complete a preliminary written
report within seven days to determine whether the child is
in immediate danger of serious harm; make a final
determination within sixty days as to whether the allegation
is indicated or unfounded;
b. take a child into protective custody if the child
is determined to be in imminent danger, and initiate a
judicial proceeding by the next business day;
c. provide each child determined to be eligible for
pre-placement services, or services while in foster care,
with a comprehensive needs assessment and service plan
(commonly known as a uniform case record or "UCR"),
including an initial risk assessment and service plan with
all required elements within thirty days from the case
initiation date, a comprehensive assessment and service plan
with all required elements within ninety days from the case
initiation date, and a reassessment and service plan review
with all required elements within six months from the case
initiation date and every six months thereafter;
d. identify and provide each child and family with
services in accordance with the child's comprehensive
assessment and service plan, including but not limited to
case planning and case management services, casework
contacts, day care services, homemaker services, family
planning services, home management services, clinical
services, parent aide services, parent training services,
transportation services, emergency cash services, emergency
shelter services, housing services, and intensive family
e. ensure that the type or level of foster care
placement in which a child resides is appropriate to the
individualized needs of the child and family;
f. adequately investigate potential foster homes in
the manner required by law before granting licenses or
certificates to foster parents and placing children in their
homes, and appropriately evaluate and review the foster
homes and families before renewing their licenses or
g. supervise, visit and inspect foster homes on a
regular basis after licensing them;
h. ensure that all foster children achieve permanency
either by being returned to their families at the earliest
date on which it is safe to do so, or, when reunification is
not appropriate, by terminating parental rights and
arranging for adoption as soon as possible;
i. provide children placed in foster care pursuant to
FCA Article 10, with periodic judicial reviews at least
every twelve months; provide children voluntarily placed in
foster care with reviews at least every 18 months; provide
children who have been freed for adoption and placed in a
pre-adoptive home unit for whom no adoption petition has
been filed with reviews at least every twelve months;
provide children who have been freed for adoption but not
placed in prospective adoptive homes with reviews every six
months; provide all foster children with the dispositional
hearing required by federal law within 18 months after
entering placement; and
j. promulgate the policies and secure the personnel
necessary to fulfill all federal and state mandates in
accordance with reasonable professional standards.
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REGARDING NAMED PLAINTIFFS
73. Plaintiff Marisol A., who is five years old, spent
several months of her life locked in a closet, so badly starved
that she ate her own feces, black plastic bags and a cardboard
shoebox. Her mother let her out of the closet to administer
beatings which knocked out her front teeth and fractured a tibia,
and to burn her with cigars and scalding water. All of this
abuse occurred despite multiple reports to CWA of Marisol's dire
condition. CWA failed to respond to these reports of suspected
abuse as required by applicable law and reasonable professional
74. Marisol was born on August 15, 1990, only two days
after her mother, Ms. A., was arrested on charges of drug
dealing. Due to her incarceration, Ms. A. made arrangements for
a neighbor, Ms. C., to take informal custody of Marisol until her
75. Although this was intended to be a temporary
arrangement while Ms. A. remained in jail, upon her release Ms.
A. decided that she did not wish to resume custody of Marisol,
and voluntarily signed her into foster care. As a result, Ms. C.
applied for, and received, certification as a foster parent.
Marisol remained in Ms. C's home from August 23, 1990, until
76. During her three and one-half years in Ms. C.'s care,
CWA's permanency goal for Marisol was reunification with her
mother. CWA maintained this goal without any reasonable basis to
believe that such a goal was appropriate for Marisol or in her
best interest, and took no steps to implement the goal. CWA
never sought or obtained Ms. A's cooperation or participation in
planning for Marisol. In fact, Ms. A. and her boyfriend were
still dealing drugs in their home. And although Ms. A. and Ms. C
lived in the same neighborhood, Ms. A visited Marisol only eight
times during the entire three and one-half years of her first
placement, and only at the insistence of Ms. C. Ms. A. missed
several of Marisol's birthday parties, despite Ms. C's repeated
invitations. CWA knew or should have known all of this.
77. At this point, there were adequate legal grounds for
CWA to file a petition seeking termination of Ms. A.'s parental
rights, but CWA did not do this, and failed to take any
reasonable steps to reassess the appropriateness of Marisol's
permanency goal of reunification.
78. At some point during Marisol's placement, Ms. A.
decided to seek the child's return, though she told her sister
and others that she did not love Marisol.
79. In January, 1994, CWA allowed Ms. A. to have weekend
visits with Marisol. After every visit, Marisol returned to Ms.
C.'s home filthy and unfed. She reported that there was no bed
for her to sleep on in Ms. A.'s apartment, and that there was a
lot of violence in the house. Police officers were sent to Ms.
A.'s home on several occasions to settle domestic disputes.
Despite being informed about this by Ms. C., Marisol's CwA
caseworker failed to investigate Ms. A.'s home or to reevaluate
the appropriateness of unsupervised visits. Instead, the
caseworker merely told Ms. C. that this was not her concern.
80. In February, 1994, CWA returned Marisol to Ms. A.'s
custody without conducting a reasonable investigation to
determine whether she would be safe or whether Ms. A. could
provide adequate care and supervision for her. CWA had reason to
believe that Ms. A. and her live-in boyfriend were still dealing
drugs in the home, and that Ms. A. had severe psychiatric
problems. Ms. A.'s sister reported that Ms. A. had a long
history of "bizarre behavior," including eating cigarette butts
and running naked through the streets. CWA nonetheless
discharged Marisol to Ms. A.'s home, and failed to provide any
counseling or other services to the family. Instead, although
CWA knew or should have known of Ms. A.'s drug dealing and
troubled history, CWA took no steps to supervise or monitor Ms.
A.'s home to ensure that Marisol was safe and being adequately
81. Eight days after the discharge, Ms. A. brought Marisol
to St. Luke's Hospital with vaginal bleeding and infection. St.
Luke's then mistakenly called Ms. C., her former foster mother,
to question her about these injuries. Fearing for Marisol's
safety, Ms. C. wrote a letter to a CWA supervisor on April 1,
1994, reporting that Marisol was at risk of being abused or
neglected. CWA did not investigate these allegations, and did
not follow up on the report that Marisol had been hospitalized
for vaginal bleeding. Instead, CWA wrote to Ms. C. stating that
they had met with Marisol at the field office, had spoken with
her mother, and had concluded that both mother and daughter were
"adjusting well" to the situation.
82. In October, 1994, Ms. A.'s own sister reported to CWA
that Ms. A. was abusing Marisol. Again, CWA failed to conduct an
adequate investigation of the allegation. When a child
protective services worker finally visited the A. home, Ms. A.
stated that Marisol was not available because she was visiting
relatives in the Dominican Republic. Rather than confirm the
truth of the story, the protective service worker left without
seeing Marisol, and concluded that the allegation was unfounded.
83. But Marisol was not in the Dominican Republic. She was
locked in a closet.
84. Marisol spent several months confined by her mother in
a closet, until she was discovered in May, 1995. Her discovery
came not by CWA, but through the chance arrival of a housing
inspector. This inspector saw an older boy run up and hit her on
the head with full force. The inspector became suspicious when
he noticed that Marisol did not react to this abuse with a shout
or a cry, but merely blinked. Recognizing the signs of abuse
from his previous career as a police officer, the housing
inspector immediately notified the police.
85. When police officers arrived at Ms. A.'s apartment,
they found a four-year-old girl lying naked beneath a urine-
soaked sheet, shell-shocked from living in a closet, and starved
so severely that her stomach was distended. When subsequently
given a laxative to cleanse her system, Marisol excreted pieces
of black plastic bags, and it was later revealed that she had
been forced to eat her own feces, garbage bags and cardboard
boxes in order to survive.
86. Doctors at Harlem Hospital reported that Marisol was so
severely abused that "no part of her body [was] unmarked." She
had a splintered tibia; bruises covered most of her body; her
front teeth were knocked out; she had been sexually molested; her
feet "looked cooked" because of the boiling water that had been
poured onto her; much of her body was covered with burns from
cigars; and she had been pulled by her head so hard that large
clumps of hair were missing. It was later reported that the
housing inspector and police officers had rescued Marisol in the
nick of time, as "her body couldn't take any more."
87. Ms. A. and her boyfriend were indicted on charges of
first degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
88. In May, 1995, upon Marisol's release from Harlem
Hospital, Ms. C. took custody of her and was recertified as her
foster parent. Marisol was so disfigured by her abuse that Ms.
C. -- who had raised the little girl for more than three years --
could barely recognize her.
89. Ms. C. has informed CWA that she is anxious to adopt
Marisol. However, CWA has not informed Ms. C. of Marisol's
permanency planning goal, and has taken no steps to initiate the
home study to determine whether Ms. C. can be approved as a pre-
adoptive parent. Because CWA has not begun the process of
terminating Ms. A.'s parental rights and freeing Marisol for
adoption, Marisol remains in jeopardy of being returned to her
mother or removed from the foster family that has provided the
only safety and stability she has ever known. Upon information
and belief, CWA has neither developed nor begun the
implementation of a permanency plan that complies with reasonable
professional standards for this already damaged child.
90. In addition to her severe physical injuries, Marisol
has also suffered significant psychological trauma, and currently
needs intensive counseling and other support services. Although
Ms. C. began requesting that CWA provide her with a Medicaid card
for Marisol in May, 1995, she only recently received one.
Moreover, CWA has failed to ensure that Marisol receives
counseling necessary to address the sexual trauma she endured
while in her mother's home. As a result, Marisol exhibits
behavior and language inappropriate for a child her age.
91. Defendants have violated Marisol's constitutional and
statutory rights by failing to protect her from harm; by failing
to investigate reports of suspected abuse or neglect as required
by law and reasonable professional standards; by failing to
provide services and supervision necessary to support and/or
monitor her discharge from foster care; and by failing to develop
and implement an appropriate permanency plan.
92. As a result of the defendants' actions and inactions,
Marisol has been and continues to be irreparably harmed. Marisol
and her foster family do not know whether her goal is adoption or
reunification with her mother, and as a result she lives in a
constant state of terrifying uncertainty.
93. Plaintiff Lawrence B. is in the final stages of AIDS-
related illness. Despite this fact, CWA has consistently failed
to provide him with an appropriate placement, to ensure that he
receives necessary services, or to do anything to help this young
man cope with his life-threatening illness.
94. In fact, CWA is either so oblivious or so indifferent
to Lawrence's needs that, in documents which CWA recently filed
with the court, CWA described Lawrence as doing well and
recommended that he receive training in preparation for a
transition to independent living.
95. Lawrence first entered the foster care system pursuant
to a voluntary agreement signed by his aunt on January 26, 1995,
when he was seventeen years old. His mother had died of AIDS in
or around 1985, and his father had died years before of unknown
causes. Lawrence's aunt, his primary caretaker, could no longer
care for him.
96. CWA failed to offer services so Lawrence could remain
with his aunt and, after assuming custody of Lawrence, failed to
properly evaluate his medical needs in a timely fashion. Despite
clear indication that he was ill, CWA did not secure a complete
medical assessment for nearly two months. In fact, Lawrence was
severely ill with AIDS. The absence of a proper assessment made
it impossible for CWA to obtain a suitable placement which could
provide for Lawrence's individualized needs.
97. Lawrence was initially placed in a diagnostic facility.
Although such facilities are intended to be temporary placements
for ninety-day diagnoses, CWA left Lawrence at this diagnostic
center for seven months, although CWA knew or should have known
that this placement was inappropriate for him. While at this
facility, Lawrence was permitted to miss school classes and stay
out with his peers -- where his medical condition could not be
monitored or treated. As a result of the absence of adequate
supervision, Lawrence's condition may have deteriorated more
quickly than it would have if he had been in an appropriate
98. Sometime in August, 1995, CWA attempted knowingly to
place Lawrence in an inappropriate group home which did not have
a medical staff to provide the type of supervision which he
needed. At no time during its discussions with the potential
placement agency did CWA mention that Lawrence had AIDS. When
the agency specifically asked for Lawrence's medical records, CWA
stated that it did not have these records, and withheld crucial
information. The potential placement subsequently fell through.
99. On or about September 1, 1995, CWA transferred Lawrence
to a private agency group home for teens whose goal is
independent living. In transferring Lawrence's case to this
agency, CWA sent the agency inaccurate medical records indicating
that Lawrence was completely healthy.
100. In a letter dated September 19, 1995, to Craig Longley,
Assistant Deputy Commissioner of CWA, the Associate Executive
Director of the private agency stated that in transferring
Lawrence's case a CWA case manager handed a package of medicine
to an agency employee and "indicated that the medicine was for
the youngster's ear infection and that he was also taking calcium
pills." No other substantive medical information was provided
regarding Lawrence. "We are extremely concerned," the letter
continued, "that our agency was not provided with adequate
medical information about the health status of this youngster
which could have seriously compromised his health . . . ."
101. CWA knew or should have known that this agency did not
have the capability to supervise children with symptomatic AIDS.
Even when the agency notified CWA that it could not provide for
Lawrence's increasing medical needs, and that he needed hospice
care, CWA failed to transfer Lawrence to an appropriate
placement. Instead, CWA merely told the agency that the group
home staff should take Lawrence to the hospital when necessary.
102. Despite his severe medical condition, CWA continues to
ignore Lawrence's medical needs.
103. Lawrence has been hospitalized intermittently for AIDS-
related illnesses since being placed at the group home. Rather
than transferring him to a hospice that could provide him with
the services he desperately needs, CWA continues to insist that
Lawrence be returned upon each discharge from the hospital to the
group home which cannot meet his needs.
104. CWA has neglected to ensure that Lawrence is provided
with necessary psychological services. Because the group home is
not accustomed to handling children in Lawrence's condition, it
has failed to provide Lawrence with counseling to prepare him for
the next phase of his illness. As a result, Lawrence is still in
partial denial, and, sadly, has been unable to pursue the issues
of closure that are associated with terminal illness.
105. CWA has also failed to develop a case plan for Lawrence
that has any relevance to his condition or his individual needs.
In a recent petition for review of his foster care status, CWA
recommended that foster care be continued in the current
placement, because "[c]hild is doing well in agency's group home"
and is receiving "vocational planning for discharge to
independent living." The petition contains absolutely no mention
of his severely deteriorating health. In fact, Lawrence's
medical status is now so grave that he will never be capable of
living on his own -- a fact CWA cruelly ignores.
106. Lawrence will soon reach his eighteenth birthday, and
CWA still maintains a goal of "independent living" for him which
could result in his being left to die on the streets or, at best,
to spend his remaining days in a group home which has admitted
that it cannot provide him with the level of medical care and
counselling he requires.
107. Defendants have violated Lawrence's constitutional and
statutory rights by failing to protect him from harm; by failing
to provide him with proper care, even though CWA knew that he was
not receiving adequate care; by failing to provide an appropriate
placement and sufficient services; by failing to conduct an
adequate assessment to determine whether placement in the group
home was appropriate; by failing to develop and implement an
appropriate case plans that contain the required elements, in
accordance with the law and reasonable professional standards;
and by failing to implement the case plan.
108. As a result of defendants' actions and inactions,
Lawrence has been and continues to be irreparably harmed and
deprived of an opportunity to spend his remaining days in an
appropriate environment which can stabilize his medical condition
and provide for his emotional needs.
109. Plaintiff Thomas C. is fifteen years old and has been
in foster care since the age of seven. Defendants have failed --
and are continuing to fail -- to take necessary steps to provide
Thomas with a permanent home and a way out of foster care.
Moreover, they have failed even to ensure Thomas's physical
safety while in foster care, and, in the past eight years, Thomas
has been repeatedly physically and sexually abused.
110. Thomas was born on March 21, 1980. His mother was a
drug abuser who was unable to care for him, and during his first
two years of life Thomas lived with numerous caretakers. At the
age of two, Thomas went to live with his grandmother, but three
years later his mother forcibly took him back. For the next
year-and-a-half, Thomas lived with his mother in squalid
conditions, where he was physically and psychologically abused.
Thomas's grandmother ultimately regained custody of Thomas, but,
unable to care for him, on July 22, 1987, she placed him in
111. CWA failed to provide an appropriate placement or
develop an adequate plan for Thomas. Instead, over the next two
years Thomas was moved through four placements, including a
diagnostic center and Bellevue Hospital, where -- at the age of
seven -- he was treated for suicidal ideation.
112. On July 25, 1989, CWA placed Thomas at a residential
treatment center ("RTC"). CWA still failed to develop an
adequate plan for Thomas or to take any steps to secure a
permanent placement for him. Although it was clear that Thomas's
mother would never be able to provide a home for him, CWA did not
ensure that necessary steps were taken to free Thomas for
adoption, or to seek an adoptive home for him in a timely manner.
Indeed, Thomas's parents' rights were not terminated until July
31, 1993, a full six years after he entered foster care. And
even then, CWA failed to take any steps to seek or secure a
permanent home for Thomas.
113. During his time at the RTC, Thomas became friendly with
a minister, Reverend D., who was employed there. In 1993,
Reverend D. moved to South Carolina and offered to take Thomas
with him. In the absence of any alternative placement for
Thomas, CWA approved Thomas's placement with Reverend D., and
Thomas was sent to South Carolina. Upon information and belief,
CWA did not ensure that the mandates of the Interstate Compact on
the Placement of Children were followed.
114. After Thomas was transferred to the home of Reverend
D., CWA failed to ensure that Thomas's placement was properly
monitored, although Thomas remained in CWA's legal custody and
such monitoring is legally required. CWA also failed to ensure
that South Carolina officials were supervising the placement, as
required by the Interstate Compact. Reverend D. was failing to
return telephone calls from caseworkers at Thomas's New York RTC,
was not cooperating with the RTC, and would not confirm that he
had obtained necessary counseling for Thomas -- all of which was
or should have been known to CWA. CWA took no steps to determine
whether the placement was appropriate, or whether Thomas was even
115. In fact, Thomas was being sexually abused by Reverend
D. CWA only learned of this fact when Thomas ran away to the
police, who confirmed his allegation and returned him to the RTC
in New York on June 9, 1994.
116. As a result of all he has experienced, and the lack of
stability and permanence in his life, Thomas has experienced --
and continues to experience -- severe, multiple problems since
his return to the RTC. The RTC's records indicate that he has
been physically threatened and attacked by other boys, and that
on two occasions he has attempted suicide by jumping off the roof
of a building. But CWA has taken no steps to determine whether
the RTC is an appropriate placement for Thomas. And although
Thomas is legally freed for adoption, CWA has taken no steps to
seek or secure an appropriate adoptive home for him.
117. Earlier this year, Thomas ran away from the RTC. He
lived in various locations -- including sleeping on the roofs of
buildings -- and ultimately ended up living with a drug dealer
and the dealer's girlfriend. The drug dealer physically abused
Thomas, who subsequently returned to the RTC, walking all the way
from Greenwich Village to the RTC in Westchester County.
118. Although Thomas now has severe psychological problems,
he is reluctant to participate in counseling at the RTC because
he fears that his problems would not be held in confidence and
believes that the staff and residents already know about his
sexual abuse in South Carolina. Although the RTC has been
ordered by the family court to provide counseling from an outside
agency for Thomas, it has failed to do so, and CWA has taken no
steps to ensure that such counseling is provided to this
desperately unhappy and possibly suicidal young man.
119. The defendants have violated Thomas's constitutional
and statutory rights by failing to protect him from harm; by
failing to provide appropriate planning and services that would
provide him with the opportunity to be placed in a permanent
home, as required by law and reasonable professional standards;
by failing to obtain and supervise an appropriate placement; by
failing to provide services necessary to prevent him from
deteriorating while in foster care; and by failing to protect him
from physical and psychological harm while in foster care.
120. As a result of defendants' actions and inactions,
Thomas has been and is being irreparably harmed. Thomas is
growing up without a permanent family, has been physically and
sexually abused while in defendant CWA's custody, is being
subjected to the uncertainty of foster care status, and is being
deprived of an opportunity for healthy development and a normal
121. Plaintiff Shauna D. is two years old and lives with her
drug-addicted mother, Ms. D. Despite receiving reports
indicating that Shauna is in danger of serious abuse or neglect,
CWA has failed to investigate these reports in the manner
prescribed by law. CWA's failure is especially troublesome here
because Ms. D. has already lost custody of her six other children
after findings that she abused or neglected them, and because Ms.
D. admittedly continues to require drug treatment.
122. On September 12, 1995, Ms. M., a friend of Ms. D. who
had been caring for Shauna, filed for formal custody of Shauna.
At a hearing on October 13, 1995, Shauna's law guardian informed
the court that Shauna was living with Ms. M., but that Ms. M. was
not financially able to care for her. The law guardian further
informed the court that Ms. D. was not helping to feed or clothe
Shauna, and was an active drug user. Finally, the law guardian
informed the court that Shauna had not received necessary
123. The court directed Shauna's law guardian to call in a
report of suspected abuse or neglect to CWA regarding Shauna. On
October 13, 1995, Shauna's law guardian called in the report to
CWA, but no action was taken.
124. On November 5, 1995, Ms. D. forcibly took Shauna from
Ms. M.'s home. Ms. M. later saw Ms. D. on the street taking
drugs. As of this date, CWA had still taken no action upon the
report of suspected abuse or neglect. In fact, several weeks
after being assigned to investigate this case, the child
protective services worker had failed even to contact either
Shauna or Ms. M., and was unaware that six of Ms. D.'s other
children had been removed from her after findings of abuse or
125. On November 9, 1995, twenty-six days after the first
report of suspected abuse or neglect -- and after four follow-up
calls to CWA by Shauna's law guardian -- a CWA caseworker finally
contacted Ms. D. to begin investigating the allegations. CWA's
"investigation," however, consisted solely of a telephone call to
Ms. D. in which Ms. D. stated that she was trying to get into a
drug treatment program. The caseworker failed to contact or
interview Shauna or Ms. M., and ignored Ms. D.'s failure to
obtain necessary immunization shots for Shauna.
126. On November 14, 1995, the CWA caseworker took Ms. D. to
register at an residential drug treatment program which would
allow Shauna to live with her during treatment. Although the
caseworker had knowledge that Ms. D would not be able to enter
the program for at least a week, the caseworker made no
provisions for Shauna's care or safety during this week-long
interval. As winter arrived, the caseworker also continued to
fail to arrange for Shauna to receive her immunization shots.
127. On November 21, 1995, Shauna's law guardian again
called the CWA caseworker. The caseworker stated that he did not
know whether Ms. D. had, in fact, entered the drug treatment
program. Nevertheless, despite the failure to conduct a proper
investigation as required by law, the caseworker stated that the
report of suspected abuse or neglect would be determined
unfounded based solely upon Ms. D.'s representation that she
would enter a drug treatment program.
128. To date, CWA has failed to investigate the report of
suspected abuse or neglect in the manner required by law, and has
failed to file a written report detailing the elements of the
investigation or the reasons for its conclusion. Upon
information and belief, CWA is continuing to inadequately monitor
Shauna or Ms. D.'s status, and has never arranged for Shauna to
receive her immunization shots.
129. The defendants have violated Shauna's constitutional
and statutory rights by failing to investigate reports of
suspected abuse or neglect as required by law and reasonable
professional standards, by failing to protect her from harm; and
by failing to offer Shauna timely medical attention according to
reasonable professional standards.
130. As a result of the defendants' actions and inactions,
Shauna has been and is being irreparably harmed.
131. Plaintiff Ozzie E. is a fourteen-year-old child who
should not be in foster care. Ozzie wants to return to live with
his mother, Ms. E., who wants to take him home. All that stands
between reuniting mother and son is CWA's refusal to provide
services to allow Ms. E. to care for Ozzie, who suffers from
seizure disorder, brain lesions and behavioral problems.
132. After his parents separated, Ozzie initially went to
live with his father. But Ozzie's father, Mr. Q., frequently
traveled for work and left Ozzie with his female companion.
During one of these trips in early 1995, Ozzie had a seizure and
was placed in the hospital by Mr. Q.'s companion. When Mr. Q.
returned and refused to take Ozzie home from the hospital, CWA
placed Ozzie in a group home. Ozzie's father voluntarily placed
him in foster care on April 26, 1995.
133. When CWA officials contacted Ozzie's mother, Ms. E., to
ascertain whether she would care for Ozzie, she indicated that
she had a job and, given Ozzie's physical and emotional
difficulties, could not properly care for him. CWA officials
never suggested to Ozzie's mother that family preservation
services -- such as homemaker services, special schooling or day
treatment -- could be made available to help her care for Ozzie.
134. For the next six months, CWA kept Ozzie in care,
listing his permanency goal as return to mother but failing to
offer any of the services necessary to achieve that goal. CWA
has conceded, moreover, that Ozzie's present placement in a group
home is inappropriate because the group home does not provide
services necessary to address his neurological problems.
135. After Ms. E. learned -- from Ozzie's law guardian, not
CWA -- about the possibility of supportive community-based
services to help her care for Ozzie, she stated that with such
help she would very much like to have Ozzie return home and live
136. To date, despite the fact that CWA admits that Ozzie's
present placement is not appropriate, and despite the fact that
Ozzie's goal is return home, CWA refuses to provide the services
that would make Ozzie's return possible. As a result, CWA is
needlessly continuing to keep mother and son apart.
137. The defendants have violated Ozzie's constitutional and
statutory rights by failing to protect him from harm; and by
failing to provide appropriate planning and services that would
permit him to be returned to his mother, as required by law and
reasonable professional standards.
138. As a result of defendants' actions and inactions, Ozzie
has suffered and continues to suffer irreparable harm. Ozzie is
growing up without a permanent family, is being subjected to the
uncertainty of foster care status, and is being deprived of an
opportunity for healthy development and a normal childhood.
Darren F. and David F.
139. Plaintiffs Darren F. and David F. are seven-year-old
twins who have been in foster care virtually their entire lives.
Because of CWA's failure to provide psychological and other
counseling, their condition is rapidly deteriorating and they are
on the verge of losing what may be their only chance for adoption
140. Darren and David were born in 1988, and at age one were
placed by their mother in the custody of CWA, which placed them
in a foster home. At that time, CWA's goal for the children was
return to their mother, on the conditions that she find a job or
obtain public assistance, and get an apartment. However, the
case plan (embodied in the uniform case report, or "UCR")
which CWA approved -- failed to indicate what steps the foster
care agency or CWA had taken, or would take, to help the mother
achieve these goals.
141. In May, 1990, Darren and David, who remained in foster
care, were placed with their grandmother. Although their
grandmother was too old to care for them adequately, and would
often leave them for many hours in front of the television with
the volume turned up loud, CWA and the voluntary agency failed to
properly investigate or address this problem. The three UCRs
filed for the twins during this period -- which CWA also
approved, on 6/7/90, 3/25/91 and 6/24/91 -- made no mention of
the issue. Indeed, the last of these UCR's stated that the twins
"both appear to be very comfortable in the home."
142. Darren and David were removed from their grandmother's
home after CWA and the agency learned from the police, who were
called to the home to restore peace, that the grandmother allowed
the natural mother, a known drug addict, to move into the foster
home with the children.
143. In November, 1991, at the age of three, Darren and
David were placed with a new foster parent, Ms. R., who had been
a teacher's aid in a special education class and was better able
to address the children's special needs. By the time Darren and
David arrived at Ms. R.'s home they were already showing signs of
psychological trauma: they had not been toilet trained, often
drank out of the toilet bowl, and smeared feces on the walls.
144. CWA was aware of these problems, but failed to provide
any services to prevent Darren and David's continuing
psychological deterioration. Without CWA's assistance, Ms. R.
enrolled the twins in therapeutic day care, which began to
stabilize their behavior. At the same time, the twins' foster
care agency began the process of terminating their natural
mother's parental rights in April, 1992. The boys' case plan
listed a goal of adoption by Ms. R.
145. In September, 1994, Darren and David entered public
school, and soon thereafter their behavior again deteriorated.
They began using racial slurs, swearing and running around
uncontrollably when outside Ms. R.'s home. Ms. R. repeatedly
asked the foster care agency for assistance, but the agency
refused to make any treatment referrals; CWA took no action to
help them either, although CWA knew or should have known about
the children's need for services.
146. In May, 1995, a psychiatric evaluation of the twins was
conducted after Ms. R. indicated that she could no longer cope
with their behavior. Darren and David at first refused to talk
with the psychiatrist. When one of them did speak he began with
They smash the cake, they beat my face, it
was dumb, it was stupid, I told you I don't
want to hear it, I will kill myself, I will
The evaluation recommended that both boys immediately be enrolled
in a day treatment program while continuing to live with Ms. R.,
and specifically named three such programs. The evaluation also
stated that the agency should not consider the radical step of
taking such young children out of a home setting and placing them
in a residential treatment center until a day treatment program
was tried first.
147. Neither the private agency nor CWA made any attempt to
make the referrals recommended by the twins' doctors. Instead,
the agency -- in flagrant disregard of the evaluations --
recommended that Darren and David be immediately placed in a
residential treatment center. In November, 1995, the twins were
sent to a residential treatment center.
148. Today, Darren and David continue to live at the
residential treatment center -- an institution designed for older
children with severe emotional or behavioral problems, which
until recently would not even accept children under the age of
twelve. This setting is entirely inappropriate for children the
twins' age, contradicts the advice of the doctors who examined
them, and is causing them harm. Moreover, because CWA continues
to fail to consider the option of day treatment, the twins can no
longer live with Ms. R., the person they have come to think of as
their mother. Indeed, the separation may cause Ms. R. to
relinquish her hopes of adopting them, thus depriving the twins
of their best chance for a permanent and stable home.
149. The defendants have violated Darren and David's
constitutional and statutory rights by failing to provide
services necessary to prevent them from mentally and
psychologically deteriorating while in foster care; by failing to
develop and implement appropriate case plans that contain the
required elements, in accordance with the law and reasonable
professional standards; by failing to make appropriate casework
contacts with them and monitor their progress as required by law
and reasonable professional standards; and by failing to provide
appropriate planning and services that would permit them to be
placed in a permanent home.
150. As a result of the defendants' actions and inactions,
Darren and David have been and are being irreparably harmed.
Darren and David are growing up without a permanent family, and
are being deprived of an opportunity for healthy development and
Bill G. and Victoria G.
151. Plaintiffs Bill G. and Victoria G. are brother and
sister, ages fourteen and ten, and have spent virtually their
entire lives in foster care. Because of CWA's continual failure
to appropriately plan for these children, Bill and Victoria have
never had any real chance of leaving the child welfare system and
enjoying a secure and permanent home. And because of their
increasing ages, if CWA does not act soon it will become, as a
practical matter, impossible to provide these children with a
permanent home and a relatively normal childhood.
152. In September, 1985, shortly after Victoria's birth, she
and Bill were placed in foster care pursuant to a finding of
neglect against their natural parents. At that time, their
parents were living together. Bill is mentally retarded and
suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy. He is labeled as a
special needs child and requires supportive services.
153. Bill and Victoria were placed together under the
supervision of a private agency, in the foster home of Ms. H.
From September, 1985, to August, 1987, the children's permanency
goal was return to parent. In order to achieve that goal, the
agency developed -- and CWA approved -- a case plan which called
for parenting classes, psychiatric counseling for Mrs. G.,
completion of an A.A. program by Mr. G., the location of adequate
housing, and regular parent/child visitation.
154. Neither CWA nor the agency took any steps to implement
the children's case plan by securing Mr. and Mrs. G.'s
cooperation with the service plan and monitoring their progress.
As a result, there were infrequent parent/child visits, including
an absence of any visits between March 11, 1986, and June 24,
1986 -- a fact CWA did not know because there were no caseworker
contacts with either the children or parents during this three-
155. On August 26, 1987, the legal authority for the
children's placement lapsed due to defendants' negligence. For
nearly two years thereafter, defendants evidenced no awareness
that Bill and Victoria remained in Ms. H.'s home without a legal
placement. On July 9, 1989, CWA finally obtained a voluntary
placement agreement from Mr. and Mrs. G.
156. During this period, Bill and Victoria's permanency goal
remained reunification with their parents. The service plan for
the family repeated the goals of completion of A.A. and parenting
programs, regular visitation, and completion of psychiatric
counseling for Mrs. G. Despite the parents' longstanding refusal
to comply with identical service plans, CWA failed to work with
them to render it more likely that compliance with the plan --
and achievement of the children's permanency goal -- would occur,
or to justify a change in the children's goal.
157. In August, 1989, Bill and Victoria reported that they
had been beaten by their parents during an unsupervised weekend
visit. CWA refused to investigate this report. Although an
investigation was conducted as the result of a court order, CWA
permitted bi-weekly parent/child visitation to continue. The
allegations of abuse against Mr. and Mrs. G. were eventually
deemed "indicated", or founded.
158. Despite Mr. and Mrs. G.'s well-documented failure to
comply with the elements of the service plan, defendants
continued to fail to develop an appropriate plan for Bill and
Victoria, or to reconsider the children's goal of reunification.
Instead, CWA allowed the children to drift in foster care with no
realistic goal, as it was clear that Mr. and Mrs. G. showed
little interest in having their children returned home. In fact,
Bill and Victoria were not visited at all between August 8, 1990,
and November 9, 1990. During the few subsequent visits, Mr. G.
often remained in his bedroom and did not interact with the
children. And Mr. and Mrs. G. still failed to enter counseling
or A.A. in accordance with their service plan.
159. On January 17, 1991, nearly five and one-half years
after their initial placement, the Family Court itself
acknowledged that the children's permanency goal was
inappropriate and ordered defendants to file a petition seeking
termination of Mr. and Mrs. G.'s parental rights within 90 days.
While the goal was officially changed to TPR/adoption, defendants
ignored the court's order and failed to file the termination
petition until June 19, 1991 -- more than five months after the
160. At an August, 1992 hearing, CWA was forced to withdraw
the TPR petition because it had failed to make sufficient
diligent efforts to work with the Mr. and Mrs. G., and thus
lacked the legal basis to terminate their parental rights.
161. In May, 1992, Mr. G. left New York for South Carolina,
and maintained only sporadic contact with the children until his
return in December, 1993 -- nineteen months later. While this
absence of contact, alone, may have justified the termination of
his rights, CWA failed to pursue this course. Instead, at a
December, 1993 hearing, CWA claimed that they still had failed to
make diligent efforts to work with the family. To date, CWA
still has not attempted to obtain a TPR.
162. When Mr. G. returned to the New York City area in
December, 1993, he demanded that his children be discharged to
his care. After allowing Bill and Victoria to drift through the
foster care system for nearly eight years, CWA once again changed
the children's goal from adoption to return home.
163. As in the past, however, CWA failed to ensure that a
reasonable plan be developed and implemented to achieve this
goal. Instead, the family's service plans in December 1993, June
1994, and December 1994 continued to call for Mr. G. to complete
a general counseling program, an alcohol treatment program and a
parenting program, to obtain adequate housing, and to visit with
the children regularly. But CWA failed -- and continues to fail
-- to ensure that Mr. G. complies with the same service plan
which he has repeatedly failed to complete for the past decade,
or to pursue a more appropriate goal for these children. Mr. G.
still only visits the children on a sporadic basis, and there is
no indication that he has completed, or even begun, any of the
programs required by the plan.
164. Bill and Victoria have lived with their foster mother,
Ms. H., for the past ten years, and Ms. H. has expressed a desire
to adopt them. Bill is now fourteen years old and has lived with
Ms. H. since he was three. Victoria, who is now ten years old,
has been in foster care nearly her entire life. Ms. H. is
essentially the only mother both children have ever known. As a
result of CWA's failure to properly manage their case, Bill and
Victoria may lose their chance to be adopted by Ms. H., and may
be returned to an abusive father who has effectively abandoned
them for ten years.
165. These children remain uncertain as to whether they will
remain with their foster mother or return to their natural
father. Defendants have failed to provide Bill and Victoria with
psychological counseling to address this lack of stability and
certainty, to prepare them to return to their father, or even to
identify the need for supportive services to render the
transition less traumatic.
166. Ms. H. has been trained to address Bill's special needs
and, according to CWA's records, she has provided a "stable and
secure" home for Bill and Victoria. By contrast, Mr. G. is
diagnosed as suffering from "chronic schizophrenia" and "alcohol
abuse." Removing these children from their current environment
would cause them irreparable harm.
167. After a weekend visit with their father in May, 1995,
Bill and Victoria reported that he had neglected to feed them.
Moreover, the children have emphatically stated that they do not
want to live with their father, and that they want to live with
Ms. H., whom they refer to as "Mommy." While the agency has
cancelled further weekend visits with Mr. G., the children's
permanency goal remains return to home.
168. Defendants have violated Bill and Victoria's
constitutional and statutory rights by failing to protect them
from harm; by failing to develop written case plans that contain
the required elements in accordance with the law and professional
standards, and are likely to lead to permanency; by failing to
review case plans within the required time periods; by failing to
implement the case plans to ensure their permanent placement, as
required by law and reasonable professional standards; by failing
to conduct an adequate assessment to determine whether placement
with their father is appropriate; and by failing to provide these
children with services necessary to meet their needs.
169. As a result of defendants' actions and inactions, Bill
and Victoria have been and continue to be irreparably harmed, and
are being deprived of a permanent home and the opportunity for
170. Plaintiff Brandon H. is seven years old and has lived
his entire life in foster care. Despite the fact that his
parents' parental rights have been terminated, and despite the
fact that he has a potential adoptive parent willing to adopt
him, CWA has failed to take the necessary steps to allow him to
be adopted and to bring the psychologically damaging limbo of
foster care to a close.
171. Brandon was born on May 25, 1988. His mother was
twelve years old, and was herself in foster care. Brandon was
immediately removed from his mother and placed in foster care.
172. Because CWA failed to extend Brandon's initial
placement under a finding of parental neglect, the legal basis
for his placement lapsed, and on November 27, 1991, CWA filed a
second neglect petition. This petition -- ultimately upheld by
the court -- alleged, inter alia, that:
[Brandon's] mother has stated that she likes to
make babies cry because she likes the way they
sound and the way their bodies shake. [Brandon's]
mother also stated that she likes to overfeed
babies to see them vomit.
173. On February 13, 1992, a court ordered CWA to file a
petition seeking termination of Brandon's mother's parental
rights. Despite this order, and despite Brandon's mother's
obvious inability to care for Brandon, CWA failed to file the TPR
petition until October 5, 1992 -- almost eight months later.
174. In early 1992, Brandon was placed in a pre-adoptive
home with Ms. W., who, according to a UCR filed on May 25, 1992,
Brandon called "Mommy."
175. On March 29, 1994, Brandon's mother's parental rights
were terminated by court order. Despite the fact that Brandon
was now freed for adoption, and despite the fact that a potential
adoptive parent -- Ms. W. -- had long been identified, CWA failed
to take any of the steps necessary to allow Ms. W. to actually
adopt Brandon. Almost two years after Brandon was freed for
adoption, CWA has failed to file a petition for adoption, and,
inexplicably, has failed even to transfer Brandon's case to the
CWA adoption division which could begin these procedures. As a
result, Brandon continues to live in the impermanent and
psychologically damaging limbo of foster care, while CWA does
nothing to address his paramount need for permanency. Moreover,
by failing to schedule a hearing to review Brandon's status, as
required by law, CWA continues to allow Brandon to be lost in a
system without any oversight or monitoring.
176. The defendants have violated Brandon's constitutional
and statutory rights by failing to protect him from harm; by
failing to implement his permanency plan and allow him to leave
foster care and enjoy a permanent and secure home; by failing to
provide him with services to facilitate his adoption as required
by law and reasonable professional standards; by failing to
prevent the psychological deterioration caused by such
impermanence; and by failing to schedule mandated hearings, thus
depriving Brandon of his right to mandated oversight of his
177. As a result of the defendants' actions and inactions,
Brandon has been and is being irreparably harmed. Brandon is
growing up without a permanent family, is being unnecessarily
subjected to the uncertainty of foster care status, and is being
deprived of an opportunity for healthy development and a normal
178. Plaintiff Steven I. is sixteen years old, and has been
in foster care his entire life. CWA has never provided
appropriate and legally mandated case and permanency planning,
and has failed to provide services to help Steven address the
severe psychiatric and emotional problems which he has developed
while in foster care. Although the doctors who have treated
Steven claim that he needs long-term residential treatment, CWA
has ignored -- and continues to ignore -- his need for such care.
Instead, CWA inappropriately assigned Steven to a group home,
from which he ran away in 1994. Steven has never returned to
this inappropriate placement, choosing instead to live on the
179. Steven was born on July 12, 1979, with drugs in his
bloodstream, and was removed from his mother's care soon
thereafter, as the result of a neglect finding. Steven was
placed in foster care first with his grandmother, and, after her
death, with an aunt. Steven's case was supervised directly by
CWA, not by a voluntary agency.
180. By age twelve, Steven was demonstrating severe
emotional problems and engaging in violent behavior at school,
including attempting to rape a nine-year-old girl, soliciting
oral sex from two other girls, stabbing people with pencils and
setting fires. Despite this behavior, CWA failed to provide
proper services to Steven to deal with these problems.
181. Because of his violent behavior, Steven's aunt took
Steven for a diagnostic psychiatric evaluation. The doctors who
evaluated Steven recommended that to prevent his further
psychological deterioration he should be placed in a long-term
residential treatment facility with the experience and expertise
to address his severe psychiatric needs. CWA failed to refer
Steven for such a placement, or to provide Steven and his aunt
with services sufficient to address his problems.
182. When CWA refused to take the steps necessary to prevent
Steven's psychological condition from further deteriorating,
Steven's aunt, on her own initiative, took him to a clinic for
psychiatric help. For several months after visiting the clinic,
Steven's behavior improved. But in December, 1992, and again in
December, 1993, he attempted to molest other children. As a
result, the doctors at the clinic recommended long-term
residential treatment to address Steven's needs and prevent
further deterioration of his condition.
183. Again, CWA failed to act. In September, 1994, at the
age of fifteen, Steven was committed to New York Hospital, where
he was labeled a "sexual predator." Despite this, upon his
release in October, 1994, CWA placed Steven in a group home which
lacked the facilities to address his increasingly severe
emotional problems. Predictably, Steven ran away from this group
home, and now lives primarily on the streets.
184. Two weeks ago, Steven's aunt -- with whom he is
intermittently in contact -- took him to the clinic which had
previously treated him and tried to get him admitted for
psychiatric treatment. CWA initially delayed the authorization
for payment for such treatment, and, several hours later, after
numerous phone calls, when CWA agreed to pay for such treatment,
Steven and his aunt had already left the hospital without
obtaining help. Since that time, CWA has made no attempts to
find Steven -- who remains in CWA's legal custody -- or to
provide him the care he desperately needs.
185. The defendants have violated Steven's constitutional
and statutory rights by failing to protect him from harm; by
failing to provide services necessary to prevent him from
psychologically deteriorating while in foster care; by failing to
develop and implement case plans that contain the required
elements, in accordance with the law and reasonable professional
standards; by failing to make appropriate casework contacts with
Steven and monitor his progress as required by law and reasonable
professional standards; and by failing to provide planning and
services that would permit him to be placed in a permanent home.
186. As a result of the defendants' actions and inactions,
Steven has been and continues to be irreparably harmed. Steven
is growing up without a permanent family, is being subjected to
the uncertainty of foster care status, is living on the streets,
is receiving no care for his severe psychological problems, and
is being deprived of an opportunity for healthy development and a
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS REGARDING SYSTEMIC DEFICIENCIES
187. The experiences and current situations of the named
plaintiffs are neither unusual nor aberrational. Rather, they
are merely several examples of the defendants' systemic failure
to fulfill their legal responsibilities to the entire class of
children whom they are legally obligated to serve.
188. The failures delineated herein all result from
defendants' long-standing pattern and practice of illegality, and
their deliberate indifference to the needs of the children in the
plaintiff class. Any attempts defendants may have made to remedy
these failings have been ineffective.
189. Defendants have long been aware of the need to redress
these problems, and have had the authority to ameliorate them.
But they have refused to exercise their authority, and refused to
ensure that adequate funds are available and used appropriately
to ensure compliance with the law.
190. Protective services are those services aimed at
protecting vulnerable children from physical or psychological
abuse and neglect.
191. Defendants fail to protect children in circumstances
when they have received reports notifying them that a particular
child is in danger of abuse or neglect. Many investigations are
neither timely nor adequate, with the result that numerous
children are harmed -- often severely, and even fatally --
because CWA has failed to meet its obligation to protect them.
192. The law requires that defendants have in place a system
for accepting reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. In
New York, this system is the State Central Register, operated by
the state Department of Social Services and commonly known as the
193. The State Central Register is understaffed, making it
extremely difficult to actually report suspected child abuse or
neglect. Calls either go unanswered or, once answered, are
placed on hold interminably.
194. Currently, State Central Register staff will not accept
a call for investigation unless the caller can offer what amounts
to proof of child abuse or neglect on the telephone. Many well-
founded reports of child abuse or neglect -- even those made by
credible, professional sources such as doctors or teachers -- are
deemed insufficient to warrant investigation.
195. The state hotline fails to maintain any records on the
number of allegations of abuse and neglect it refuses to accept
196. Those reports that are accepted frequently linger
without proper CWA investigation well beyond the mandatory
investigative time period.
197. The law specifies that investigations must be initiated
within twenty-four hours, that a preliminary investigation report
be written within seven days, and that the investigation be
completed within sixty days. Defendants fail to meet these
198. CWA's records indicate that in 1993 only 39.5 percent
of its protective service investigations were completed within
the legal timeframe. Of the 44,758 protective service
investigations pending in November, 1993, 39,057 were delinquent,
and 14,072 had been pending for more than six years.
199. To address the enormous backlog of protective service
investigations, between December, 1993, and February, 1994, CWA
"administratively expunged" 13,000 cases with long-outstanding
investigations--that is, the agency simply removed the cases from
its computer files, while doing nothing to ensure that the
investigations had been completed, or even begun.
200. Many of the investigations that are conducted are
perfunctory and inadequate to protect children. Investigations
often fail to include visits to the child's home, face-to-face or
telephone interviews with the child, or the collection of
information from informed sources such as police officers,
teachers, and medical professionals, though all these steps are
required by law.
201. According to a recent memorandum by a CWA attorney,
some child protective services caseworkers -- who are responsible
for investigating allegations of abuse or neglect, and are also
known as "protective/diagnostic" or "P/D" workers -- condone
violence against children, including corporal punishment, in
violation of CWA's policies.
202. On account of these multiple failings, numerous
children are allowed to remain in homes in which they are in
danger. Many children are physically injured, often severely.
Some have been killed before CWA took the initiative to commence
or complete the investigations.
203. Despite the absence of credible evidence that the
actual incidence of child abuse and neglect is declining, the
percentage of allegations deemed "indicated" by CWA has declined
significantly in recent years. In 1989, 54.3 percent of the
allegations were indicated; in 1990, 49.6 percent; in 1991, 44.8
percent; and in 1992, 32.1 percent.
204. During the five-year period from 1990 to 1994, 197 New
York City children who had been subjects of calls to the State
Central Register died. According to a report by CWA's Child
Fatality Review Panel, forty-seven percent of these deaths --
ninety-three children -- died by homicide, and in most of these
cases the perpetrator was the child's parent or caretaker.
205. In 1990, CWA had 1,080 P/D workers. Due to a series of
layoffs, buyouts and early retirement incentives, earlier this
year only 712 remained.
206. P/D workers are not provided the most basic necessary
equipment, including beepers to facilitate contact with them when
they are out in the field. An absurd back-and-forth between
notes left on unanswered doors and telephone messages left at
empty offices results in unacceptable delay, during which no
actual investigation occurs, placing children in grave danger.
207. Child Welfare League of America standards state that
protective service caseworkers should carry no more than twelve
investigative cases at a time, but many of CWA's protective
service caseworkers have caseloads far in excess of this number.
This City-wide problem is particularly acute in Kings and Bronx
Counties, where caseloads can reach thirty or more. Such
caseloads prevent even the finest, most dedicated caseworkers
from doing their jobs effectively and protecting children.
208. Upon information and belief, the number and percentage
of reports of suspected child abuse or neglect that are accepted
for investigation vary substantially over relatively short
periods of time. Upon further information and belief, these
changes reflect management decisions regarding the number of new
cases the system "can handle." The changes do not result from
changes in the number or severity of calls made to the hotline.
209. When investigating allegations of child abuse or
neglect, caseworkers often misuse voluntary placements. Rather
than take the time and do the paperwork to file abuse and neglect
charges, or provide the services necessary to avoid foster care
placements, caseworkers urge parents to sign documents
"voluntarily" placing their children in foster care. While this
is easier for the caseworker, it undermines the children's and
parents' rights to the provision of appropriate services, and to
certain procedural protections before a family is broken apart.
210. This practice also places children in jeopardy, because
many children placed "voluntarily" into foster care are placed
from homes in which they are in danger of abuse or neglect. And
it is much easier for parents to obtain the release of children
placed voluntarily, and to return them to the same dangerous
situations from which they were "voluntarily" removed.
211. Defendants are particularly reluctant to investigate
allegations that teenagers have been abused and neglected, for
reasons having nothing to do with the likelihood that such
allegations are true. Because CWA lacks sufficient placements
for adolescents, CWA is loathe to admit them to a system where
they will remain in long-term foster care, unlikely to be
adopted. Instead, defendants refer vulnerable teenagers to
emergency homeless shelters or private facilities such as
Covenant House, despite the fact that teenagers may remain in
these facilities for only thirty days.
212. Preventive services are services provided to children
at risk of placement in foster care. These legally required
services are designed to help families remain together whenever
possible by helping families address whatever problems have
placed the child(ren) at risk of foster care placement.
213. CWA provides almost no services to avert the need for
foster care placement in appropriate circumstances.
214. CWA routinely fails to respond to serious problems
within families that could lead to a child's placement in foster
care, even when these problems are known to the agency.
215. When service plans are written, they are not adjusted
over time in response to families' changing needs.
216. CWA has very few programs to preserve families and
avert the need for foster care placement under appropriate
circumstances. Those programs that exist are woefully inadequate
to meet the needs, and legal rights, of the plaintiff children.
217. CWA has failed to develop and ensure access to a
sufficient number and type of service providers, though legally
required to do so. This failure has resulted in long waiting
lists for such services as day care, family therapy and housing
assistance. The current waiting list for mental health services,
for example, is between eight and nine months, and will be
exacerbated once several child psychiatric treatment centers are
closed, as is scheduled. Treatment programs for drug abuse and
family violence are similarly limited.
218. In recent months, homemaker services to families at
risk of having children removed into foster care have been
219. After making referrals to private service providers,
CWA caseworkers do not follow up to ensure that the family
follows through or that the agency actually has the capacity and
ability to provide the family with the services that it needs.
220. The types and degree of services available to keep
families together -- and the decision whether to provide such
services to particular families and children -- are driven not by
the families' needs or the likelihood that the services will
succeed in keeping a family together, but by fiscal concerns and
221. As a result of these failures, many children are now in
foster care who would be home with their families had appropriate
preventive services been provided, as required by law.
Permanency Planning for Children
222. Foster care is intended as a temporary system, in which
the government agency quickly assesses the problems and service
needs of a child and family, decides whether a child can and
should be returned to the family, provides services to try to
implement the goal of returning the child, determines whether the
goal is unrealistic or cannot or should not be accomplished
within a reasonable period of time and, if the child cannot or
should not be returned, makes every effort to find another
permanent family for the child, usually through adoption.
223. Although the law requires caseworkers to establish a
goal to achieve permanency for a child within a reasonable period
of time, and to develop a step-by-step strategic plan for
achieving this goal, in New York this almost never occurs.
224. Instead, planning for New York City children takes
place by default, in violation of reasonable professional
standards. Children languish in foster care for years, with no
realistic planning taking place. That is why New York City
children remain in foster care three times longer than the
national average: 4.2 years as compared to 1.4.
225. As a result of CWA's totally unprofessional decision-
making, CWA has a recidivism rate of twenty per cent, with many
children returned home without adequate investigation,
supervision or supportive service, only to have the same problems
recur, requiring a return to foster care. Such "planning" as
takes place often consists merely of a caseworker appearing at
periodic court reviews -- when these occur at all -- and stating
that the child's goal is "extension of foster care placement."
This problem is so acute that one New York City judge has posted
a sign on the wall of her courtroom that reads: "Extension of
placement is not a goal."
226. Instead of making a careful, individualized judgment
about the appropriate long-term goal for a child, virtually all
children are initially assigned a goal of return home -- whether
the child has been seriously abused over a long period of time,
whether the parent has abused other siblings or evidenced any
interest in having the child returned, and whether the child has
previously been in foster care because of the parent's inability
or unwillingness to care for the child in the past.
227. Despite having a goal of returning a child to the
parent, however, CWA often does little to ensure that this goal
is accomplished, either by providing necessary services to the
parent or ensuring that its contract agencies provide these
services. Thus those parents who could resume custody of their
children were services provided to help them are often unable to
228. At the same time, children whose parents cannot or will
not benefit from services, and whose sole hope for permanency is
adoption, often cannot be adopted because CWA fails to change
their goal to adoption for extraordinarily long periods of time.
CWA does not even begin the process of attempting to free a child
for adoption until after the child's goal has been changed,
regardless of whether legal grounds exist to do so.
Assessments and Case Plans
229. Although assessments and case plans are the key to
ensuring that children receive appropriate services and necessary
treatment, and that permanency goals for children are
implemented, many children do not get service assessments and
case plans in a timely and professional manner as required by
law. Caseworkers frequently prepare assessments and plans
several weeks or sometimes months after they are due. In some
cases, they do not prepare any assessment or plan. Although CWA
must approve every assessment and case plan prepared by a
voluntary agency, it routinely approves plans months after they
have taken effect.
230. Service assessments frequently fail to accurately
identify the reasons why a child is at risk of foster care
placement or is in foster care. While a parent's drug abuse or
mental illness account for a large percentage of foster care
placements, caseworkers are not trained to recognize these
problems, and assessments frequently do not reflect them.
231. Assessments often fail to describe adequately the role
of each member of a child's family, and how that family member
contributed to the problems that placed the child in foster care
or at risk of foster care placement. For example, assessments
and case plans often fail to account for issues of domestic
violence in a family, even if an abusive father or boyfriend is
the primary perpetrator of abuse.
232. Case plans do not contain necessary and appropriate
service referrals. Most plans contain the same two service
referrals -- "parenting skills" and "therapy" -- without regard
to the individualized needs of the families for whom the plans
are prepared. It is not unusual for case plans to refer mentally
ill parents to "general counselling," or to refer parents who
simply lack housing to a parenting class.
233. There are inadequate attempts to develop service plans
that provide for a comprehensive package of services to families
and children with serious psychiatric and medical needs. Often,
for example, sexually abused children do not receive referrals
for necessary psychiatric and medical services.
234. Because many referrals are inappropriate, severely
abused children often bounce from service provider to service
provider, undermining the continuity essential to the effective
delivery of services.
235. CWA fails to ensure that those services identified as
necessary are available and actually provided.
236. Service plans do not track a family's ongoing efforts
or failures in resolving the problems that led to the need for
service intervention, documenting the parents' progress or lack
thereof in meeting established goals. Instead, many case plans
merely repeat the contents of the previous service plan, in
237. Service plans are not reviewed in the manner required
by law. Although parents are to be included in the review, they
often are not invited, do not receive copies of the plans, and do
not sign the plans indicating that such plans have been explained
to them and that they are in agreement with the plans' contents.
Because of their exclusion, parents frequently do not know what
is required of them under the plan and what tasks they must
accomplish to facilitate their child's discharge from foster
care. The result is that children stay in foster care for
unnecessarily long periods of time.
238. When the caseworker assigned to a case goes on
vacation, no temporary caseworker is assigned, so all assessment
and case planning activity ceases, and nobody monitors the
239. When children are removed from the family setting, they
are placed on a "hit-or-miss" basis in whatever bed is available,
often with foster parents who have not been appropriately
screened or trained.
240. Because defendants have not developed a sufficient
range of different types of placements to meet the needs of
children, many children are placed inappropriately.
241. Because of an insufficient number of adolescent
placements, teenage foster children are either not taken into
placement when necessary, or are pushed out of the foster care
system and forced to live either on the streets or in one
temporary shelter facility after another.
242. Because of a lack of appropriate mother-child
placements, many girls who give birth while in foster care are
separated from their babies. Mothers and their babies are placed
in a series of inappropriate placements, undermining their
243. Because of a lack of adequate placements for children
with special psychiatric or medical needs, many children with
serious problems deteriorate further while in defendants'
custody. Although foster care placements are supposed to be as
stable and family-like as possible, CWA's lack of adequate
placements and managerial ineptitude undermine these goals.
Children frequently bounce from one placement to another, with no
stability at all. One young man, for example, was recently moved
to his seventy-seventh different foster care placement since
244. Many foster homes are not reasonably in accord with
required standards for such homes. Initial home studies and
investigations are superficial, and foster care license renewal
requirements are disregarded. Some foster parents are barely
functional. Some individuals who are given foster parent
licenses have no real interest in children, but are simply
interested in the additional income. Others, whose homes have
been decertified as foster homes because of allegations of abuse
or neglect, simply wait several months, apply for certification
with another private agency, and get recertified because the
absence of data prevents adequate background checking. Upon
information and belief, between five and ten percent of foster
parents have criminal records.
245. Reports of children being abused and neglected while in
foster homes are not investigated in the manner or within the
time periods required by law. Abuse or neglect by foster parents
often is not even reported, because CWA and the voluntary
agencies tolerate behavior from foster parents which would be
unacceptable if exhibited by birth parents. Caseworkers
routinely delay action, despite their knowledge of a foster
child's abuse, jeopardizing the child's safety.
246. Defendants have failed to ensure that foster parents
receive the training necessary to enable them to provide proper
care to the children placed with them. As a result, many
children who have entered defendants' custody with problems
created by abuse or neglect in their own homes are further
deteriorating under CWA's care.
Services to Foster Children
247. Foster children do not receive the services necessary
to keep them free from harm while in foster care, and to enable
them to return home, to be freed for adoption, or to live
independently once they leave defendants' custody.
248. While in foster care, children suffer a myriad of
substantial deprivations, including but not limited to inadequate
physical health care, inadequate mental health care and
inadequate educational services.
Health Care and Related Services
249. Although CWA is required to ensure that children in its
custody receive adequate health care, many foster children's
physical and mental health care needs go unaddressed. These
failures include the entire spectrum of health care services
required by law, from well-child exams to care for end-stage AIDS
250. Foster children have particularly high health care
needs -- which is unsurprising among a group of children who have
been abused and neglected.
251. A study conducted by the New York State Department of
Social Services Office of Quality Assurance and Audit, released
in May, 1995, paints a picture of devastating failure:
a. Fewer than one percent of foster children's
medical records have all the required components.
b. Only eighteen percent of foster children receive
complete comprehensive medical examinations, as mandated by
c. Only half of foster children's records indicate
that they have received immunizations as required by law.
d. Less than thirty-four percent of foster children
receive age-appropriate lead blood tests.
e. Children in direct foster care (i.e., serviced
directly by CWA, not by one of the voluntary agencies) fare
the worst, have the worst health problems, and suffer from
the poorest documentation of their medical records.
252. A study conducted by the United States General
Accounting Office, also released in May, 1995, reveals a similar
pattern of failure:
a. "Important health-related needs, including routine
medical examination and various specialized services,
remain unmet for nearly one-third of the young foster
children in the locations reviewed[, including New York]."
b. More than one-third of foster children receive no
c. Children placed in foster care with their
relatives are less likely than children in other foster care
settings to receive necessary and required health care.
253. Children enmeshed in the child welfare system have much
more severe and pervasive mental health needs than children
generally. Yet CWA and private agency caseworkers often lack the
skills necessary to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and
to take appropriate action.
254. And for those children whose mental health care needs
are identified, there is a critical lack of appropriate services.
CWA has failed to develop and provide a sufficient range and
quantity of mental health care services -- from relatively
informal counseling to in-patient psychiatric care -- to address
the needs of the children it is required to serve.
255. Adolescents who need specialized clinical or
psychotherapeutic intervention typically do not receive it.
256. Defendants also fail to provide foster children with
disabilities -- including but not limited to those with HIV and
AIDS -- with the services necessary to allow them to participate
fully in the City's child welfare system as required by law, nor
do they ensure that the private agencies with which they contract
provide such services.
257. There is an insufficient number of appropriate
placements for foster children with HIV, AIDS and other acute
258. Foster children with disabilities requiring medical
care often do not receive it.
259. Foster children who rely upon a mechanical apparatus
such as a wheelchair or leg braces do not receive necessary parts
and supplies, and as a result are sometimes home-bound and forced
to miss school.
260. CWA, directly and through the private agencies with
which it contracts, is required to take such steps as are
necessary to ensure that all children in foster care receive
education appropriate to their needs and in accordance with the
requirements of the state education laws; to maintain an active
and direct liaison with all foster children's schools; and to
ensure that all foster children receive appropriate educational
and vocational guidance. CWA is systemically failing to meet any
of these obligations.
261. Because of CWA's failure, foster children face a
variety of problems, including but not limited to the following:
a. Foster children's biological parents are not
included in educational decision-making.
b. Foster children are disproportionately and
inappropriately placed in special education, adding to the
stigma inherent in being in foster care, and increasing the
likelihood that these children will either drop out of
school or become so demoralized that they fall behind grade
c. Some foster children are placed in residential
facilities with in-house education programs, which are often
insufficient, and are inadequately monitored by CWA.
d. When foster children must change schools -- which
occurs with alarming frequency, as children move from
placement to placement -- their educational records do not
follow them, so educational continuity becomes impossible.
And when children leave foster care and return to their
neighborhood school or high school of choice, their
educational records from their time in foster care often do
not follow them, so they receive no credit for schoolwork
completed while in foster care.
262. Foster children with learning disabilities do not
receive the testing necessary to document their disability, and
thus are precluded from receiving legally mandated accommodations
263. CWA has failed to foster an appropriate working
relationship with the New York City Board of Education, though
such a relationship could facilitate appropriate school
placements, transportation of educational records, and continuity
of educational services.
264. Foster children are not provided with services
necessary to facilitate the prompt reunification of their
families, as required by law.
265. Once a child is placed in foster care, caseworkers
frequently cease to work with the child's family members to
address the problems that led to the placement and prepare for
the child's return home.
266. Because parents are not included sufficiently in
planning for their children's permanent discharge from foster
care, they frequently do not even know or understand what they
must do to secure their children's discharge.
267. As a result of these failures, children often spend
years longer than necessary in government custody.
268. Because case planning and case management are so inept,
CWA does not set appropriate permanency goals for children. Even
long after it is clear that a child will never be able to return
home, CWA does not set a goal of adoption. While waiting for
their goals to be changed, thousands of children get too old to
be strong candidates for adoption, and end up spending many
unnecessary years in foster care.
269. At every stage of the adoption process, CWA and the
private agencies drag their feet interminably. Thousands of
foster children who cannot return home remain unadapted because
CWA has failed to take the prerequisite actions by establishing a
goal of adoption, terminating parental rights, placing the
children in properly screened pre-adoptive homes, and moving the
legal adoption process forward.
270. The failure to involve parents in planning for their
children often impedes the adoption process. Many times
adoptions cannot move forward because CWA has not engaged in
legally required "diligent efforts" to reunify the child's
271. Once CWA sets a goal of adoption, it takes an average
of 3.2 years for CWA to complete the adoption, undermining the
child's paramount need for stability and permanency. For
children in CWA's direct care -- not placed with a private agency
-- the average is 3.8 years.
272. Currently, more than 18,000 New York City foster
children have a permanency goal of adoption, many of whom are
legally free for adoption. But CWA completes only approximately
2,400 adoptions each year.
273. CWA has failed to develop an aggressive adoptive home
recruitment program so foster children for whom adoption is
necessary have a chance to be placed in a permanent family. And
defendants fail diligently to recruit potential adoptive parents
who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of New York City's
274. Children in need of adoption have already spent long
years in foster care. Some of them have lived with foster
parents with whom they have formed significant bonds. But these
foster placements have often been made initially on an emergency
basis, without regard to whether the foster parent would be an
appropriate adoptive parent. As a result of CWA's lack of
planning and professionally responsible decision-making early in
the child's placement, coupled with the long delays in CWA's
initiating the adoption process, for many children the choice
often becomes a less than adequate adoptive parent or the
disruption of an existing emotional bond.
Independent Living Services
275. Foster children who cannot return home or be adopted
are legally entitled to services designed to prepare them to live
independently upon leaving the foster care system. These
services are not provided in any meaningful way. Young people
regularly "graduate" from the foster care system at age eighteen
or older4 lacking the education, training and skills necessary
to live independent, productive lives.
276. The independent living program consists primarily of
lessons on balancing a checkbook, despite the fact that most
participants have neither a job nor a bank account.
277. The independent living program provides no meaningful
vocational training, so young people leaving foster care lack the
skills necessary to allow them to assume employment and become
self-supporting, nor does CWA ensure that these young people
receive vocational training elsewhere. This problem is
compounded by CWA's failure to ensure that foster children
receive an appropriate education, with the result that an
extraordinarily high percentage of young people being discharged
from foster care have not even graduated from high school.
278. Some foster children who will be making the transition
to independent living are not United States citizens, but are
entitled under federal law to receive permanent residency cards
4 Young people who enter foster care before turning
eighteen are permitted to remain in the system through age
twenty-one. CWA has the right to discharge them, but must
provide them with ninety days' notice and services in accordance
with a reasonable discharge plan.
(commonly called "green cards"). Although permanent resident
status would enhance these young people's ability to obtain
higher education, housing and employment, CWA does nothing to
help them obtain such status.
279. Foster children with disabilities receive no assistance
with making the particularly difficult transition to independent
living. They are provided no help learning how to live on their
own with their disabilities, and are not even informed of
programs and benefits available to them. Instead, they are often
pressured to sign themselves out of the foster care system as
soon as they turn eighteen and are legally able to do so.
Caseworker Screening, Training, Retention and Support
280. Applicants for CWA caseworker positions are not
properly screened by educational background or ability to
successfully carry out a difficult and important job, nor is a
caseworker required to have anything more than a bachelor's
degree in any subject.
281. Before entering the field, caseworkers receive only
twenty days of training, most of which focuses not on child
development but on filling out forms and other paperwork tasks.
As a result, caseworkers are wholly unprepared to make critical
assessments, to provide and access necessary services, or to work
with children and families.
282. According to CWA's own lawyers, some caseworkers speak
little or no English, and therefor cannot testify regarding the
facts of their cases or communicate with their clients or other
283. Although new caseworkers are required to attend
training classes, they are not required to demonstrate any level
of competency before assuming responsibility for a caseload. In
November, 1994, for example, one third of the child protective
services caseworkers graduating from CWA's pre-service training
program at the James Satterwhite Academy scored below sixty
percent on the multiple-choice final exam. These caseworkers
were nonetheless employed and entrusted with life and death
284. When caseworkers fail the examination at the conclusion
of their training, they are rarely terminated.
285. When "too many" caseworkers fail the examinations at
the conclusion of their training, CWA does act -- by removing the
most difficult questions from the next examination and lowering
the passing score. Standards are continually ratcheted down.
286. Once employed, caseworkers are not provided with the
supervision and support necessary to investigate reports of abuse
or neglect adequately; to monitor foster care placements
properly; to ensure that children, their birth families and their
foster families receive the services that they need; or to engage
in necessary and legally required case planning and management.
287. Because of frequent turnover and the fact that
promotions are based on seniority instead of merit, CWA lacks
managers and supervisors with appropriate skills and experience
to direct and be accountable for a workforce required to make
critical life and death decisions. Although CWA supervisors are
required to have Master of Social Work degrees, most do not.
288. Because their supervisors do not have the necessary
skills, experience or education, caseworkers do not receive
needed supervision, guidance or support. Although immediate
supervisors are required to meet with their caseworkers either
individually or in a group for at least one hour per week, these
meetings do not occur.
289. CWA supervisors sometimes attempt to transfer cases to
other units or managers quickly when they sense trouble, so that
if a case blows up the disaster occurs on someone else's watch.
When something does go wrong, the parties typically engage in
mutual recrimination, instead of working together so the problem
does not occur again.
290. With high caseloads and a lack of adequate supervision,
support and training, a large number of CWA caseworkers leave
after one or two years. Transferring from CWA to another agency
-- public or private -- is commonly viewed as a step up. Upon
information and belief, the annual turnover rate among protective
service caseworkers exceeds sixty percent. As a result, the
front-line staff is frequently young, inexperienced and poorly
Monitoring and Supervision of Private Agencies
291. CWA's "supervision" of the private, voluntary agencies
and its "management" of the cases referred to these agencies are
292. Although CWA has legal responsibility for all children
in foster care, it delegates the day-to-day responsibility for
the vast majority of foster children to a series of private
agencies. CWA nevertheless has final authority with regard to
all decisions that must be made for these children, and the
obligation to ensure that all children's cases are handled in
accordance with the law and reasonable professional standards.
CWA frequently fails to carry out this responsibility, either by
passively ignoring agencies' failure to provide necessary
services, or by affirmatively impeding the agencies' ability to
do their job.
293. While the private agency caseworker has responsibility
for developing and overseeing the day-to-day implementation of a
child's case plan, the CWA caseworker retains case management
responsibility for overseeing and ensuring the implementation of
the case plans and approving the child's long-term goals.
294. Pursuant to this system, however, neither CWA nor the
private agency actually assumes ultimate responsibility for these
children. As a result, the children frequently are allowed to
languish without appropriate goals or service plans because
neither the private agency nor CWA meets its responsibilities
independently -- and they fail to work together in the integrated
way envisioned, and required, by the law.
295. For the approximately seventy percent of New York City
foster children who are placed with private agencies pursuant to
contracts with CWA, there is no clarity among the persons
involved regarding precisely what responsibilities remain with
CWA's supervisory caseworkers and what responsibilities are borne
by the private agency's caseworkers. As a result, problems are
not addressed, but rather are tossed from worker to worker, and
agency to agency.
296. Defendants do little to ensure that workers employed by
the private agencies are adequately trained and supervised or
that they have caseloads that enable them to fulfill their
obligations in a manner consistent with reasonable professional
standards. Upon information and belief, many private agency
caseworkers carry caseloads that are above professionally
297. Private agency caseworkers and agencies are not held
accountable for their actions. Some private agencies provide
excellent services; others decidedly do not. Many agencies are
routinely permitted to fall below professionally acceptable
service levels without penalty, and continue to have children
referred to them. Even when private agencies' failures or
inadequacies are noted by CWA, the agencies are allowed to
continue to care for children without any attempt to ensure that
the problems are remedied. CWA recently determined that two
agencies provided such sub-standard care that children should be
transferred to other agencies. Nevertheless on information and
belief, it has still allowed hundreds of children to remain under
those two agencies' supervision.
298. Beginning in 1980, a "Program Assessment Service
Report" ("PAS" Report) was prepared for each private agency,
purportedly to enable CWA to evaluate the agencies' performance.
Although these evaluations were never done adequately, in 1989
the evaluation process was made even less rigorous when the PAS
Reports were replaced with "Contractor Overall Performance
Evaluation" ("COPE") Reports. COPE reports, which remain in use
today, are far less comprehensive and detailed than were the PAS
Reports and are used in conjunction with self assessments
prepared by the agencies to self "monitor" their performance.
299. Not only does CWA fail to ensure that the private
agencies fulfill their responsibilities and legal obligations to
children, CWA often actively impedes their ability to do so.
Recently, for example, CWA transferred approximately 850 cases to
different private agencies. Many agencies received memoranda
informing them that, effective immediately, they were responsible
for certain children's cases. But the memoranda listed only the
children's names. The children's physical whereabouts were not
provided, nor were their case records, their medical histories or
the identities, telephone numbers or addresses of their
biological or foster parents.
Administrative and Judicial Reviews
300. Defendants are required to provide children in the
child welfare system with administrative or judicial reviews of
their status at least every six months, with a dispositional
hearing after eighteen months, and with regular judicial reviews
thereafter. The reason for these reviews and hearings is to
ensure that foster children's cases are periodically overseen by
a disinterested person, that children remain in foster care for
as short a period as possible, and that the children's progress
toward achieving permanency is monitored so they do not languish
interminably in foster care.
301. New York City foster children routinely do not receive
these reviews and hearings in the time periods and manner
required by law.
302. CWA fails to ensure that voluntary placement agreements
are reviewed by family courts within the required time period.
It routinely fails to file the motions necessary to extend foster
care placements. As a result of these failures, many children
are placed in foster care or allowed to remain in foster care
without legal authority, subjecting them to unnecessary
instability and uncertainty. And children are sometimes
discharged from foster care solely because legal custody has
303. When hearings take place, CWA frequently fails to
provide information sufficient to allow informed decision-making.
As a result, meaningful periodic review of the appropriateness of
a child's placement, case plan and goal is, as a practical
matter, frequently impossible.
304. When review of a child's placement does occur, CWA
frequently exhibits a complete lack of accountability for the
child's progress, or lack thereof. The CWA attorney is often
unfamiliar with the case and the child, and is reduced to reading
the file during the hearing to learn something of what is going
on. A common scenario has the caseworker from the private agency
handling the child's case defer to the caseworker from CWA, who
in turn defers to the attorney, who is still looking in the file
to learn the child's name.
305. Orders that particular services be provided or
particular steps taken -- for example, that a petition to
terminate parental rights and free a child for adoption be filed
by a date certain -- are routinely ignored and violated. By the
time the case returns for a subsequent hearing, many of the
persons who attended the previous hearing have been replaced by
new people unfamiliar with what was previously ordered.
Accountability for noncompliance is effectively impossible.
306. CWA's information system is antiquated and inadequate.
Computer systems are nonfunctional and do not contain accurate,
up-to-date information. Computer-generated reports are routinely
manipulated to produce statistics that CWA or DSS deems
acceptable, rather than statistics that reflect either agency's
performance. Because necessary recording and paperwork tasks
that should be computerized are not, caseworkers spend fifty to
sixty percent. of their time completing required paperwork.
307. Record-keeping is so poor that private agencies and CWA
hold widely divergent views about how many children are in the
agencies' care at a given time. Many foster children cannot be
physically located because CWA has no accurate address for their
308. A May, 1994, report by the Office of the New York State
Comptroller stated that while the private agencies in New York
City reported 29,468 children in their care, CWA's computerized
information system reported 25,653 -- a difference of 3,815
missing children. And a 1994 report by the Office of the New
York City Comptroller found that CWA had listed nearly one of
every five foster children by the wrong address.
309. Upon information and belief, in 1994 CWA simply lost
the files of 16,000 children who may have been abused or
310. When a case is transferred from one CWA unit to
another, the transfer process is not computerized. Instead, the
physical transfer of the file frequently takes up to six months,
during which the case remains in bureaucratic limbo, with no
assessment, planning or monitoring.
311. Case records are incomplete and disorganized. Many are
simply lost. Critical information is left for months on index
cards, awaiting entry into computer systems. And once entered,
the information is not accessible to those who need it.
312. A November, 1993, review of a series of CWA case files
indicated that it took, on average, two hours just to organize
each file sufficiently to evaluate its contents.
313. Front-line caseworkers who must make critical decisions
do not have access to current information necessary to make wise
professional choices in the interests of children and families.
Upon information and belief, one of the factors precipitating
Elisa Izquierdo's recent death was that CWA's information about
her and her family was located into three separate computer
Ineffective Maximization of Resources
314. Upon information and belief, defendants do not take the
steps necessary to ensure that the New York City child welfare
system receives the maximum amount of possible federal financial
support. Some funds are lost because defendants do not keep
adequate records, a condition of receiving federal funds, even
though such revenue could provide additional, sorely needed
services to the plaintiff children.
315. Many of the expenditures in the New York City child
welfare system are unnecessarily high, without providing benefits
for children and families. Duplication, waste, inefficiency and
mismanagement have produced a system that is both bloated and
lacking in necessary services. Defendants have never made
serious efforts to reallocate funds in a way that would eliminate
expensive waste while ensuring better services.
Lack of Planning, and Prevailing Priorities
316. Defendants do not engage in the type of long-term
strategic planning necessary to resolve the problems confronting
the child welfare system. CWA commissioners rotate in and out,
averaging fifteen to eighteen months per term. When new
commissioners arrive, all planning typically is placed on hold
for months. Planning is episodic and in reaction to real or
perceived crises, not long-term and based on the needs of
children and families.
317. There is no central control, guidance or leadership.
The system is not professionally or consumer-driven. There is
inadequate collaboration with other human service systems or
318. Despite the demonstrated inadequacy of its present
system and recommendations that child welfare and foster care
services be reorganized or decentralized in whole or part, CWA
has failed to seriously consider any organizational changes that
might help improve its ability to serve children and families.
319. Although its provision of protection and services to
children and families is woefully inadequate, unprofessional and
illegal, CWA's current "reform" efforts are driven not by the
goal of improved services but in large part by a single clear
objective: spending less money on children and families.
320. On June 30, 1995, CWA stopped providing children
leaving foster care to live on their own, or the parents to whom
they are discharged, with $500 "discharge grants" to help pay a
security deposit on an apartment or purchase furniture or clothes
to facilitate the transition out of government custody.
321. On October 10, 1995, defendant Croft wrote a memorandum
to defendant Giuliani in which she stated that CWA's training
academy lacks the resources "to measure competency." If
reductions in resources proceed according to current plans, the
memorandum continued, "it will not be possible to design or
implement comprehensive competency systems without the infusion
of sufficient, skilled staff."
322. In 1996, CWA plans to implement a new "managed care"
foster care system which will reward those private agencies that
move children out of foster care more quickly, without giving
adequate consideration to the quality or appropriateness of the
services the agencies provide.
323. CWA's focus on the financial bottom line is further
evidenced by a recent memorandum from CWA's Bronx Borough
Director to the social work supervisors in her charge. Entitled
"Caseloads Control," the memorandum read: "Please encourage your
workers to follow this simple mathematical equation (for every
opening you should have two closings/transfers). If we do so the
caseload levels will remain under control."
324. After this memorandum was reported in the press,
defendant Giuliani defended it as "good management."
HISTORY OF INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE
AND DEFENDANTS' KNOWLEDGE OF THIS FAILURE
325. CWA's widespread failure to meet its legal obligations
to children and families is long-standing and well known.5 For
at least the past decade, these failings have been thoroughly
documented and repeatedly brought to defendants' attention.
326. As early as 1984, a study prepared by the New York
State Department of Social Services ("DSS") Metropolitan Regional
Office -- entitled "Review of New York City Child Protective
Services Program" -- concluded that child protective
investigations were not completed in a timely manner in 40.5% of
the cases, and that children were not even seen by the
investigative worker in 27.5% of the cases.
327. In the same year, the Bronx District Attorney -- in a
report entitled "The New York City Experience with Child Abuse"
-- concluded that caseworkers and supervisors were inadequately
trained in important areas of field work including evaluation of
medical evidence, interviewing techniques, acquisition of data,
preservation of evidence, and recognition and monitoring of
families who manifest high risk indicators of maltreatment.
328. In 1985, the State Senate's Standing Committee on Child
Care -- in a report entitled "Child Protective Services: A System
Under Stress" -- determined that caseworkers often closed cases
prematurely and without delivering necessary services. Nearly
5 Prior to 1987, CWA was known as Special Services for
Children. For the sake of clarity, CWA is referred to
half of the families sampled received no services during the
pendency of child abuse or neglect investigations.
329. In 1986, a report prepared by the Neighborhood Family
Services Coalition -- entitled "The Continuing Crisis"
determined that the annual staff turnover rate among protective
service workers was fifty-five percent citywide, ranging from
twenty-five percent in Queens to eighty-nine percent in
330. In 1987, HRA itself found -- in a report entitled "New'
York City Child Protective Services, Work Analysis Project"
that half of the Protective/Diagnostic case records which were
reviewed were missing required documents. HE further concluded
that in a significant number of cases service plans and
assessments were either non-existent, or exceedingly vague with
no indication of how to measure progress, and the permanency
goals often seemed unrealistic.
331. In 1988, HRA found further problems with the City's
child welfare system. In a report entitled "Overview of Foster
Care Services," HRA concluded that legally mandated caseworker
visits with children in foster border homes and their foster
families were completed in only forty-nine percent of the cases,
that only fifty-four percent of CWA workers attended in-service
training sessions, and that only half of all case managers were
332. In 1989, a large number of reports regarding the City's
child welfare system were published. The New York City
Comptroller's office -- in a report entitled "Now We Are Four"
determined that CWA altered dates and backdated forms in twenty-
two percent of its cases in order to document compliance with
case planning mandates. Despite such fraudulent record-keeping,
the records indicated that mandated ninety-day reviews were
completed an average of thirty-nine days late, six-month UCR
reviews were completed from 14 to 104 days late, and in thirteen
percent of the cases studied CWA case planning had lapsed for at
least a year.
333. Also in 1989, DSS concluded that CWA could not even
locate fifty percent of the records requested, and that service
plans often were not reviewed by supervisors or case managers.
334. The State Comptroller found -- in a report entitled
"Management of Preventive Services Cases Assigned to Voluntary
Agencies" -- that CWA did not properly supervise the voluntary
agencies, and failed to ensure that the services provided by the
agencies were sufficient to meet client needs and achieve
335. Finally, a report by the Manhattan Borough President's
Advisory Council on Child Welfare -- entitled "Failed Promises:
Child Welfare in NYC" -- found that caseworkers were not meeting
with their clients and that, even when families were identified
as needing services, such services frequently were not provided.
336. In 1990, a report prepared by CWA's Office of Field
Services -- entitled "Quality Assurance and Case Enhancement
Audit" -- concluded that home visits were not even attempted
within forty-eight hours in eighty-eight percent of child
337. That same year, a report by the Office of the State
Deputy Comptroller for the City of New York -- entitled "Delivery
of Preventive Services to Children and Their Families" -- found
that services deemed necessary for children and their families
were often not provided, and that families and children were not
receiving the minimum number of required face-to-face contacts
with their caseworkers.
338. A 1990 report by the Task Force on Permanency Planning
For Foster Children -- entitled "Kinship Foster Care: The Double
Edged Dilemma" -- concluded that in kinship foster care cases,
the goal of discharge to parent was frequently unrealistic. In
some cases, the goal of reunification was continued year after
year, even when the parents were doing nothing to remediate the
cause of the child's removal, or when their whereabouts were
339. In 1992, HRA's Child Fatality Review Panel Report
revealed that planning for the medical or health needs of
families was far below accepted standards of health practice.
Caseworkers often limited their review of the family's medical
care needs to noting whether the children had all their
340. Also in 1992, an assessment of CWA prepared by New York
State Senator Franz S. Leichter -- entitled "New York State
Abandons Victims of Institutional Child Abuse" -- concluded that
rates at which child protective investigations were confirmed
were so low as to raise serious questions as to the effectiveness
of the investigative program.
341. In 1993, Carol W. Williams, then of the Center for the
Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C., now Associate
Commissioner of the Children's Bureau of the federal Department
of Health and Human Services, concluded -- in a report entitled
"The Placement and Evaluation Process for Children In New York
City's Foster Care System" -- concluded that:
a. The transfer of information between CWA and
private agencies is "cumbersome and frequently never
b. "Case records are often incomplete and
disorganized, making critical information about a child's
background and needs difficult, if not impossible, to
c. Evaluations of children's needs are not carried
out in a timely manner or in accordance with good social
d. "Available placement resources that meet the
specialized needs of children are severely inadequate in the
City, particularly for troubled adolescents, children with
severe behavioral and emotional problems, and young teens
e. "Many children unnecessarily experience multiple
f. "Serious staffing, training and supervision
problems throughout the system negatively impact on all
areas of practice;" and
g. CWA's computer system does not support good social
342. Also in 1993, a report prepared by the Courts Committee
of the Mayor's Commission for the Foster Care of Children --
entitled "Child Welfare at a Crossroads" -- concluded that
caseloads of CWA case managers and their supervisors had grown
unacceptably high and were at unmanageable levels. Indeed, these
caseload levels virtually precluded any face-to-face contact
between the case manager, private agency staff and the families
343. In 1994, a study conducted by the State Comptroller's
office -- entitled "Children in Foster Care in Voluntary Agencies
Not Receiving All Required Services" -- determined that CWA was
failing to properly monitor the care provided to children by
private agencies. Seventy-nine percent of the cases reviewed had
at least one private agency service plan that had not been
approved by a CWA case manager.
344. Finally, also last year, a report prepared by the New
York City Comptroller -- entitled "Now We Are Nine" -- determined
that the timeframes set forth in state regulations and CWA
policies which seek to assure that no child experiences prolonged
stays in foster care, were consistently unmet and unenforced.
The report concluded that CWA's disregard for milestones had
deprived children of the permanency planning mandated by the law.
345. Despite this year-after-year, comprehensive
documentation of defendants' illegal conduct, defendants have
failed to remedy these multiple problems or to bring the New York
City child welfare system into compliance with the law.
CAUSES OF ACTION
First Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
346. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, plaintiff children are being deprived of the
rights conferred upon them by the First, Ninth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the Unites States Constitution. These rights
include but are not limited to their right to protection from
harm; their right not to be deprived of a family relationship
absent compelling reasons; their right not to be harmed --
physically, emotionally, developmentally or otherwise -- while in
state custody; their right not to remain in state custody
unnecessarily; their right to be housed in the least restrictive,
most appropriate and family-like placement; their right to
treatment; their right to equal protection of the law and not to
be discriminated against by virtue of their handicap or
disability; their right to receive care, treatment and services
consistent with competent professional judgment; and their right
not to be deprived of state or federally created liberty or
property rights without due process of law.
Second Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
347. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children are being deprived of the
rights conferred upon them by the federal Adoption Assistance and
Child Welfare Act of 1980 and the State plan approved and adopted
as a condition of New York receiving federal funding under the
Act. These rights include but are not limited to plaintiff
children's right to have defendants implement a preplacement
preventive services program designed to help children remain with
their families or be returned to their families; their right to
timely written case plans that contain mandated elements and to
the implementation and review of these plans; their right to
placement in foster homes or facilities that conform to
nationally recommended professional standards; their right to
placement in the least restrictive, most family-like setting;
their right to proper care while in custody; their right to
planning and services to secure their permanent placement at the
earliest possible time; their right to regular judicial and
administrative reviews of their foster care placements; their
right to dispositional hearings within eighteen months of
entering custody and periodically thereafter; and their right to
receive services in a child welfare system with an adequate
information system to permit decision-makers to make fully
informed choices in the children's best interests.
Third Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
348. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children are being deprived of the
rights conferred on them by the federal Child Abuse Prevention
and Treatment Act. These rights include but are not limited to
the plaintiff children's right to prompt and professional
investigations of allegations of abuse or neglect; their right to
protection form those who endanger their health and welfare; and
their right to such administrative procedures, trained and
qualified personnel, programs and facilities as are necessary to
address the problems of child abuse and neglect in New York City.
Fourth Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
349. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children are being denied the
rights conferred upon them by the Early and Periodic Screening,
Diagnosis and Treatment program of the federal Medicaid Act.
These rights include but are not limited to the plaintiff
children's right to receive periodic general physical health
examinations administered by competent medical professionals at
age-appropriate intervals determined by a panel of independent
health care experts; their right to receive periodic hearing and
eye examinations, mental health examinations, dental examinations
and lead blood tests, administered by competent medical
professionals at age-appropriate intervals; their right to
receive all necessary childhood vaccinations and boosters at
appropriate times; and their right to receive any and all
treatments deemed necessary by a qualified medical professional
conducting any of the above-mentioned periodic health
Fifth Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
350. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children are being deprived of the
rights conferred upon them by the federal Multiethnic Placement
Act of 1994. These rights include but are not limited to the
right to have potential foster and adoptive parents aggressively
recruited from among racial and ethnic minority communities to
facilitate prompt. and appropriate foster and adoptive
Sixth Cause of Action, Against All Defendants
351. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children who are handicapped or
disabled by their physical or emotional conditions are being
deprived of the rights conferred upon them by the federal
Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation
Act of 1973. These rights include but are not limited to the
plaintiff children's right to participate fully and receive the
benefits of the state child welfare and foster care programs; and
their right to receive any and all services necessary for them to
participate fully in the state foster care program despite their
handicaps or disabilities.
Seventh Cause of Action,
Against Defendants Giuliani, Hammons and Croft
352. As a result of the foregoing actions and actions of the
defendants, the plaintiff children are being denied the rights
conferred upon them by Article XVII of the New York State
Constitution. These rights include but are not limited to the
plaintiff children's right to not arbitrarily or capriciously be
denied those benefits to which they are entitled by virtue of
their status as needy persons.
Eighth Cause of Action,
Against Defendants Giuliani, Hammons and Croft
353. As a result of the foregoing actions and inactions of
the defendants, the plaintiff children are being deprived of the
rights conferred upon them by state statutory laws and
regulations. These rights include but are not limited to the
plaintiff children's right to have allegations of child abuse or
neglect investigated within specified time periods and in a
specified manner; the right of each child who is determined to be
eligible for pre-placement services or who is in foster care to
be provided with a service assessment and a service plan within
specified time periods and in a specified manner; the right of
each plaintiff child and her family to receive services in
accordance with the child's service assessment and plan,
including case contact, case planning and case management
services; the right of children in foster care to reside in a
placement appropriate to her particular needs and to receive
necessary supportive and rehabilitative services; the right to
have all potential foster homes, foster parents and other
placements investigated and monitored in a specified manner
before any plaintiff children are placed in them; the right to
have those homes and placements supervised, visited and inspected
periodically in a specified manner; the right of all foster
children to either be returned to their families or freed for
adoption and adopted so as not to languish interminably in foster
care; the right to have their cases judicially and
administratively reviewed at specified intervals and in specified
manners; and the right to be served by a child welfare system
with policies and personnel adequate to enable it to fulfill all
state and federal mandates in accordance with reasonable
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
354. The plaintiffs respectfully request that the court
grant the following relief:
a. Assume jurisdiction over this action;
b. Certify this action as a class action pursuant to
Rule 23(a) a (b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure;
c. Enter declaratory and injunctive relief necessary
and appropriate to remedy the defendants' violations of the
plaintiffs' rights under the First, Ninth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Adoption
Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 United States
Code §§ 620-27, 670-79a; the Child Abuse Prevention and
Treatment Act, 42 United States Code §§ 5101-06a; the Early
and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT)
program of the Medicaid Act, 42 United States Code §§ 1396a,
1396d(a) & (r); the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, 42
United States Code § 622(b)(9); the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 United States Code §§ 12101 et seq.;
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 United States Code § 794,
794a; Article XVII of the New York State Constitution; the
New York State Social Services Law, Articles 2, 3, 6 & 7;
the New York State Family Court Act, Articles 6 & 10; and
applicable state regulations, 18 N.Y.C.R.R. §§ 400-484;
d. Award to the plaintiffs the reasonable costs and
expenses incurred in the prosecution of this action,
including but not limited to reasonable fees and costs
pursuant to 42 United States Code § 1988;
e. Appoint a receiver with full authority to oversee
and direct the implementation of all the injunctive relief
granted by the court, to restructure the New York City child
welfare system, and to take all steps necessary to ensure
that the child welfare system operates in full compliance
with all applicable law;
f. Retain jurisdiction of this matter to ensure full,
adequate and effective implementation of the relief ordered
by the court; and
g. Enter such additional relief as the court may deem
necessary and appropriate.