The Youth Law Center has won its appeal of a district court’s dismissal of our Adoption Assistance Program (“AAP”) lawsuit on behalf of families in Oregon who have adopted children from the foster care system. A.S.W. v. Oregon (aka A.S.W. v. Mink), challenges Oregon’s across-the-board “budgetary” reduction in AAP payments for every adoptive family receiving AAP benefits. AAP is a state and federally funded program designed to encourage the adoption of abused and neglected children in foster care by removing the financial disincentive to adoption and providing adoptive families with financial support to meet these children’s needs. In the absence of this program, many families could not adopt foster children and continue to provide them with the support and services they need.
The federal district court in Oregon dismissed the case finding that AAP recipients did not have the right to enforce the provisions of the federal AAP statute. The 9th Circuit reversed the district court order finding that the adoptive families have the right to enforce the federal AAP laws requiring that AAP payments be individually determined by agreement and that families be given an opportunity to contest the reduction of benefits in an administrative hearing. The 9th Circuit has also denied Oregon’s petition for rehearing en banc (a hearing to reconsider the appeal decision before a larger number of 9th circuit judges). The case now goes back to the district court for trial. The law firm Johnson, Clifton, Larson & Schaller of Eugene, Oregon serves as co-counsel.