National Center for Youth Law


Warren v. Saenz

Plaintiff alleged that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) violated the Community Care Licensing Act, Health and Safety Code 1500 et seq., by permitting several California counties to house children alleged or adjudicated to be abused or neglected in unlicensed community care facilities. The suit stated that, due to CDSS’s failure to comply with the Act, thousands of children each year were subjected to dangerous and detrimental conditions in county-run shelter care facilities, including overcrowding, harsh disciplinary practices, and lack of appropriate care and treatment.



317487 (Cal. Super. Ct., S.F. County, Dec. 18, 2000)


Alice Bussiere
Youth Law Center
417 Montgomery Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 543-3379
Fax: (415) 956-9022


Plaintiff filed suit on December 18, 2000, seeking a writ of mandate and injunctive and declaratory relief. On April 17, 2001, the court issued an amended order and statement of decision, finding that defendant has a clear, present, and ministerial duty to require county-operated shelter care facilities to comply with the licensing requirements of the Act. On May 1, 2001, the court issued a writ of mandate, requiring defendant to comply with the Act within a reasonable time.

In July and August 2001, CDSS issued provisional licenses pursuant to Title 22, Cal. Code. Regs. 84030 for the eight county-operated children’s care facilities then in operation.

On March 28, 2002, the parties filed a Stipulated Judgment, settling the remaining due process and equal protection claims. Defendant was required to provide plaintiff with monthly information about the licensing process for each of the eight facilities until each received a regular license, and to notify plaintiff within 10 days of any decision granting or denying a regular license or granting an extension of the provisional license for any of these facilities.

All facilities have received a regular license. Plaintiff continues (1) to monitor compliance with the Community Care Licensing Act and regulations through periodic public records act requests to CDSS and the counties, (2) to track shelter populations, and (3) to identify and address potential licensing violations.