National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Bates v. McDonald
also known as Bates v. Suter and Bates v. Johnson

Plaintiffs challenged the practice of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of routinely limiting visits between foster children and their parents to one hour per month. Plaintiffs also challenged DCFS’s practice of having social workers supervise all visits, and its failure to provide parents with an opportunity for notice and a hearing to challenge visitation restrictions. Plaintiffs claimed that these practices prevented parents from maintaining close relationships with their children, hindered their efforts to reunite their families, and violated their rights under Title IV-E and the Constitution.

 

Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

84 C 10054 (N.D. Ill., Nov. 20, 1984)

CITATIONS

1989 WL 75954 (N.D. Ill. June 30, 1989); 901 F.2d 1424 (7th Cir. 1990)

CLEARINGHOUSE REVIEW NO.

38,270

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

Bruce Boyer
Loyola Child Law Clinic
16 E. Pearson Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 915-7927
Fax: (312) 915-7201
bboyer@luc.edu

HISTORY AND STATUS

The parties’ June 5, 1986 settlement agreement provided that parents would receive weekly in-home visits, initiated within ten days of placement, and notice of their visitation and appeal rights. The agency failed completely to implement this settlement, however, and, in March 1987, plaintiffs filed a contempt motion. The court issued its contempt order in June l989, and appointed a Special Master in January l990 to study the obstacles to weekly visitation. When DCFS promulgated new rules that curtailed parents’ visitation rights, the district court sanctioned the State. In May l990, the Seventh Circuit held that the district court’s “oral injunction” was not binding. However, plaintiffs successfully prevented implementation of the new rules.

In 1990, the court appointed Dr. Brandon Greene as Special Master to conduct a full review of DCFS’s provision of parent-child visitation, in accordance with the 1986 decree. The 1991 report documented extremely low levels of compliance, particularly in Cook County. Following this report, DCFS reaffirmed its commitment to providing weekly visitation, and agreed to maintain the consent decree in full force for four additional years after it achieved “substantial compliance.” DCFS has now been purged of contempt, and the case has been closed.