Henry A. v Willden
This lawsuit charges Nevada and Clark County officials with failing to protect the health and safety of children in foster care. The suit seeks money damages for 13 children named in the lawsuit, as well as system improvements for several classes of children that represent more than half of the 3,600 children in foster care in Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas.
NCYL first filed suit in August 2006 to improve foster care and child welfare in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nev. That suit, Clark K. v. Willden, was dismissed by the plaintiffs after the judge failed to certify the class and all the plaintiffs had either aged out of the system or been adopted. Henry A. v. Willden, filed on April 13, 2010, continues NCYL’s work in Las Vegas.
The lawsuit cites blatant disregard of federal and state law, substandard judgment, neglect, and active indifference on the part of child welfare officials and caseworkers. Foster children in the county have been denied stability, health care, and, in many cases, even the most minimal level of safety. Many children are taken from their homes only to be subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological abuse while in the county’s custody.
For example, child welfare officials placed an infant and her older brother in a foster home where the baby was locked in a closet, and her brother was beaten when he tried to help her. Another plaintiff has been shuttled through 40 placements in the 15 years she’s been in foster care. Another child was hospitalized twice in the ICU for near organ failure after being given an overdose of psychotropic drugs.
The suit also seeks improvements for children who have not been appointed guardians ad litem to represent them in court, children who have not been provided early intervention services, and children who are sent to foster parents without case plans that contain the information needed to properly care for them.