STRATEGIES

Bonnie L. v. Bush
also known as 31 Foster Children v. Bush

Plaintiffs filed this suit on behalf of twenty-two children against Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). The suit alleged that DCF failed to protect foster children in its custody from harm and to provide them with appropriate placements. Specific provisions of the complaint concerned the lack of foster homes and other placement options; overcrowded and inadequately supervised homes and facilities; and placement in homes that were dangerous, abusive, or neglectful.

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Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

00-2116-CIV-HUCK (S.D. Fla., Aug. 28, 2000)

CITATIONS

2001 WL 1400051 (S.D. Fla. May 10, 2001) (unreported); 180 F. Supp. 2d 1321 (S.D. Fla. 2001), aff’d in part and vacated in part, 329 F.3d 1255 (11th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 984 (2003)

CLEARINGHOUSE REVIEW NO.

53,814

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Marcia Lowry
Children’s Rights, Inc.
330 Seventh Avenue, Fourth Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 683-2210
Fax: (212) 683-4015
mlowry@childrensrights.org

Karen Gievers
524 E. College Ave., Suite 2
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 222-1961

HISTORY AND STATUS

Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in June 2000 and submitted an amended complaint on August 28, 2000. On December 4, 2001, the court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss in part, dismissing a number of plaintiffs’ claims.

On February 7, 2002, plaintiffs reached a settlement with defendants on the remaining claims. Defendants agreed to reinforce in DCF policy the principles of providing adequate services to children who are about to turn 18 years old and “age out” of the system, and to treat African-American children in a non-discriminatory manner.

Nonetheless, plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal to the Eleventh Circuit on February 12, 2002. The Court affirmed the district court’s decision on May 8, 2003, holding that certain provisions of Title IV-E did not create federally enforceable rights for foster children that they could enforce in federal court and that foster children may only seek relief from the harms they are suffering by raising the issues in their own individual dependency cases.

The Eleventh Circuit denied plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing, and the Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari.