National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Ward v. Neal
also known as Ward v. Keller

The complaint alleged deficiencies in child welfare services, including: pre-placement services; reasonable efforts to prevent placement; least restrictive placement; lack of fair hearing procedures for parents and other concerned persons to contest the provision, reduction, termination, or adequacy of child welfare services; and inadequate monitoring and supervision of services. The complaint also addressed due process and right to counsel issues in the juvenile court system. Defendants include the state Department of Human Services, Jackson County, and the juvenile court.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT AND DATE FILED

C2-87-1448 (S.D. Ohio, Dec. 10, 1987); 94-1448 (6th Cir. Apr. 27, 1994)

CITATIONS

774 F. Supp. 439 (S.D. Ohio 1991)

CLEARINGHOUSE REVIEW NO.

49,302

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Linda Kowieski
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
11 East Second Street
Chillicothe, OH 45601
(740) 773-0012
Eugene R. King
Ohio State Legal Services
555 Buttles Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 221-7201
Fax: (614) 221-7625

HISTORY AND STATUS

Plaintiffs appealed the court’s ruling granting defendants summary judgment on the fair hearing, constitutional, and federal statutory issues to the Sixth Circuit, but voluntarily dismissed the appeal in the face of Sixth Circuit precedent on standing. Plaintiffs settled the class claims with the juvenile court, which agreed to create procedures to protect parents’ and other concerned parties’ rights. Plaintiffs also reached a settlement with the county defendants providing for an independent review of the local agency. The final report from this review was favorable and resulted in significant improvements in local practice.

After the county prosecutor refused to participate in the settlement in January 1994, the district court concluded that the prosecutors were bound by the terms of the consent decree.

Plaintiffs filed a motion to show cause against the prosecutors for their failure to make good faith efforts to implement the recommendations of the expert evaluation of county children’s services activities, conducted pursuant to the terms of the consent injunction with the county. The judge did not rule on this issue and was replaced in the following election. Under the new judge, the court issued new rules in line with state law. Plaintiffs monitored these rules for three years through case reviews and appointments to represent parties in juvenile court. The enforcement period has ended.

Plaintiffs’ individual damages claims were settled in early 1994 when the county agreed to pay the Ward family $45,000.