Nevada Judge Allows Foster Care Lawsuit to Proceed
May 9, 2007 – A U.S. District Court judge in Las Vegas has ruled that the plaintiffs can proceed with the majority of claims in a lawsuit filed by NCYL to reform the child welfare system in Clark County, Nevada.
Judge Robert Jones’ May ruling allows plaintiffs to move forward with their claims, including that every child in foster care has a right to representation by a guardian ad litem, and that foster parents must be notified of, and allowed to participate in, court hearings involving children in their care.
The lawsuit, Clark K. v. Willden, cites extensive evidence that Clark County’s foster care system is failing the children in its care. NCYL also charges that numerous children have died from abuse and neglect due to the department’s negligence.
Among other problems cited in the lawsuit, filed in August 2006, a
- Lack of legal representation for children in dependency court proceedings
- High caseloads and inadequate caseworker training
- Inadequate child abuse investigations
- Inappropriate placements, insufficient foster parent recruitment efforts, lack of foster parent training or preparation, and little or no support or monitoring of foster parents
- Lack of responsiveness to complaints of abuse and neglect
- Failure to provide adequate educational services
- Severe overcrowding and unsafe conditions at Child Haven, an unlicensed shelter care facility
Plaintiffs are also represented by Farella, Braun + Martel of San Francisco and St. Helena, CA; and Wolfenzon Schulman, with offices in Las Vegas, Reno, San Diego, and Phoenix. Both firms are working on the case on a pro bono basis.