National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Office of the Child Advocate v. Rossi
also known as Office of the Child Advocate v. State of Rhode Island and Office of the Child Advocate v. Picano, Office of the Child Advocate v. Lindgreen

This lawsuit against the Rhode Island Department for Children and Families (DCF) challenged the practice of placing children in night-to-night placement in emergency shelters for extended periods of time and the failure to make reasonable efforts to reunify children with their families.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT AND DATE FILED

1:86-cv-00723-L (D. R.I., Nov. 25, 1986)

CITATION

296 F. Supp. 2d 178 (D.R.I. 2004).

ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFFS

Jametta O. Alston
Office of the Child Advocate
272 W. Exchange Street, Suite 301
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-6650
Fax: (401) 222-6652
jalston@doa.state.ri.us

John William Dineen
Yesser, Glasson & Dineen
One Providence Washington Place
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-3550
Fax: (401) 331-9267

HISTORY AND STATUS

The parties settled this case in September 1988. In October 1989, the parties agreed to an amended consent decree, under which DCF stipulated to place children in night-to-night placement only in unusual emergencies and to provide additional short-term and long-term foster placement facilities.

Several hundred placements were created pursuant to the amended decree. However, on July 12, 2001, due to continued lack of adequate placements, plaintiffs filed a motion to adjudge DCF in contempt. On August 24, 2001, the parties agreed to a Second Amended Consent Decree, which provided that DCF would (1) transport children in temporary placement to their original school; (2) identify, recruit, and train additional foster parents; and (3) rapidly assess adolescents upon their first entry into care.

Because DCF’s February 1, 2002 Compliance Report showed that the agency was not meeting its responsibilities under the decree, plaintiffs initiated contempt proceedings on May 2, 2002. DCF responded with a motion to dismiss the suit and vacate the judgment, which the court denied on January 8, 2004.

In May 2004, the parties entered into a stipulation withdrawing plaintiffs’ contempt motion. Plaintiffs continue to monitor compliance with the consent decree.