Federal Lawsuit Goes After Clark County Nevada to Protect Children in Foster Care- Judge Denies Suite Why?

I-Team: Federal Lawsuit Goes After County Family Services
Updated: Sep 02, 2009 8:09 PM EDT
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I-Team: Federal Lawsuit Goes After County Family Services
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A California appeals court may help to decide the future of Nevada’s child welfare system. At issue is whether a lawsuit against the state and Clark County should include all foster children.

The National Center for Youth Law, a California-based child advocacy firm, filed the case in 2006 on behalf of all foster children. It alleges kids in the custody of Clark County regularly suffer from physical abuse, a denial of medical and mental health care, and a lack of a permanent home due to the failures of the system that’s supposed to protect them.

“Class certification is important so that absent members of the class, children who in the future come into foster care and those who are now in foster care will be entitled to the protections that we hope to obtain for them through the federal court,” said Bill Grimm with the National Center for Youth Law.

Instead of monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks reform. In court records, Clark County argues reform efforts are underway and have been for several years. They insist many of the lawsuit’s claims are outdated.

The lawsuit names 10 children allegedly harmed by the action, or inaction, of the Clark County Department of Family Services, including one who was scalded to death in a foster home.

The surviving plaintiffs however have either been adopted or aged out of the foster care system so the firm bringing the suit seeks to include all foster kids to make the case a class action.

The Nevada federal judge hearing the suit denied their motion. Now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether he made the right decision.

Efforts to settle the case stalled in recent months. The county says, in part, because the appeals court decision will have a significant impact on the case and whether there are a few plaintiffs or several thousand.

No word on when the court may issue its decision.

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