Timothy J. v. Chaffee

Timothy J. v. Chaffee challenged the failure of the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s Services to monitor children in foster care by having face-to-face contact with each child at least once a month as required by state policy and the failure of Los Angeles County to file a plan for child welfare services as required by state law. This lawsuit was filed in 1990 by staff attorney Carole Shauffer, along with National Center for Youth Law attorney Alice Bussiere and legal services and public interest lawyers in Los Angeles. The suit arose in part over the fact that reports of abuse of children in foster care (about 1,100 in a one-year period) have often not been investigated, leaving the children in dangerous and even life-threatening situations. Homes licensed to care for six children were housing twenty, with infants sleeping two and three to a crib and older children sleeping on garage or basements floors. As the result of the litigation, the entire foster care system in Los Angeles has undergone intensive reorganization and administrative reform. The settlement includes the Youth Law Center’s participation in a pilot program for community-based child welfare services in Los Angeles County.