October 23, 2006

YLC's AAP Victory in Ninth Circuit Upheld by Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court has denied Oregon’s Petition for Certiorari to overturn the Youth Law Center’s Ninth Circuit victory in ASW v Oregon. The case was filed on behalf of families who have adopted children from Oregon’s foster care system and had their adoption assistance program (AAP) benefits unilaterally reduced by the State in an across-the-board budget related regulatory action. 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. Federal law requires that AAP payments be individually negotiated (limited only by the maximum benefit the child would have received in foster care) and memorialized in a binding agreement. 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 Ninth 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 case now goes back to the district court for final disposition consistent with the 9th Circuit ruling. Johnson, Clifton, Larson & Schaller, PC of Eugene, Oregon serves as co-counsel.