Wyatt B. v. Brown is a class action lawsuit filed against the state including Department of Human Services (“DHS”). We decided to file this lawsuit due to DHS’ failure to create a safe foster care system.
The plaintiffs in this case have stories that show how the state failed to provide necessary services. These services help children safely stay in the most family-like setting possible.
Without these services, we know that children are moved dozens of times into foster homes or facilities that are far from their communities and often don’t have the services to meet their needs.
There are also not enough case workers to assess children and make sure they have what they need to be safe.
You can read the stories of the 10 children who appear as named plaintiffs in the lawsuit on this page.
Q: Who is bringing this lawsuit?
Disability Rights Oregon has joined A Better Childhood (ABC) and Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, (DWT) to represent nine children in the foster care system. These nine children will represent the class of children we hope to get relief from the Court. ABC is a national nonprofit advocacy organization that uses the courts to reform dysfunctional child welfare systems around the country. DWT is a nationally recognized law firm with a long history of effective legal advocacy in support of civil rights.
Q: Why aren’t children in foster care safe?
This lack of services and family-like placements means that children are harmed. The harm comes from not having the right medical or mental health care as well as not having enough case workers to help find these services. The harm is also caused by removing children from their community and sending them out of state for services that we don’t have here in Oregon.
Q: What is a “class action lawsuit”?
A “class action” is a type of lawsuit that asks the court for relief for a large number of people. For this case, we are asking for relief for all children in Oregon’s foster care.
Q: Who will this case impact?
This class will be about 8,000 children for in DHS’ foster care system. This class also includes thousands of children with disabilities, 900 children “aging out” or becoming adults, and 400 foster children who identify as sexual or gender minorities.
Q: If I am a child in foster care, does this mean DRO now represents me?
No. Children in the foster care system have individual attorneys appointed to them. These attorneys represent the children on their individual cases.
This class action does not replace these attorneys and the jobs they are doing for their individual clients. Instead, the class action is a separate case that asks the court for relief for all 8,000 children in the system.
Q: What if I have questions about my rights?
If you are a child or a parent who has questions about your rights in the foster care system, you should contact your attorney.
If you don’t know who your attorney is, you can contact the Office of Public Defense Services at 503-378-3349 and ask them to help find your attorney.
Q: What if I want updates on this case?
We will post updates about this case on Facebook and send updates via eblasts.
Q: What if I want to learn more about this problem?
In this lawsuit, we reference lots of numbers and studies. We wanted to make sure that you understand where we got this information. Read more on this page.
Q: Can I share my story with you?
You can share your story by adding it to this form.