National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

D.S. v. Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families

The state of Washington denies hundreds of children in foster care the most fundamental and basic of rights owed when a child is placed in government custody: a place to live and the support and services needed to return home. After experiencing the trauma of being separated from their families, far too many foster children are being forced to endure the daily government-induced trauma of placement instability so extreme they don’t even know where they will sleep from one night to the next.

This litigation alleges the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has violated the rights of foster children with disabilities under the United States Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.

Plaintiffs call on DCYF to establish system-wide changes, including addressing the lack of family reunification-focused services and supports; ending the shameful practice of placing foster children in hotels, state offices, and other harmful temporary stays; instituting a process for providing an individualized needs assessment to all children subjected to these harmful placement practices; and developing an adequate array of placements to ensure that children with disabilities receive foster care services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.