On behalf of six transition age (ages 16-21) youth in foster care in Los Angeles County, Public Counsel, Alliance for Children’s Rights, Children’s Rights, and Munger, Tolles & Olsen LLP have filed a class action lawsuit against the California Department of Social Services, California Health and Human Services Agency, California Department of Health Care Services, Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The suit seeks to address the persistent failure of LA County’s foster care system to provide transition age youth in foster care with a minimally adequate array of safe and stable housing placements and critical supportive services.
What we hear from young people and partners is that we need systemic change. We know that any meaningful solution will require both the State and County to be at the table. Both sides have a role to play in achieving the kind of structural changes necessary to create access to appropriate housing and supportive services for every transition age youth in foster care in Los Angeles County.
Transition age foster youth frequently encounter:
- An unacceptable scarcity of safe, stable, and appropriate housing options
- Abrupt discharges from housing programs without due process
- A severe lack of emergency housing options available when youth unexpectedly become unhoused
- Inadequate case and transition planning
- Discrimination based on disability and parenting status
- Little to no help understanding and accessing the available services
These experiences violate the rights of our youth, undermine the very purpose of foster care, and fuel a broader statewide homelessness crisis.
The Alliance and our partners have a long history of trying to work in partnership with the State and County to improve housing access for older youth in foster care, including advancing state legislation, supporting county implementation, and providing direct advocacy for youth on specific client cases. Our experience demonstrates that each of the named Defendants performs an indispensable role in the foster care system, and that a meaningful, sustainable solution will require a fully integrated approach.
Young people do not belong on the streets. Our youth need and deserve better. We are proud to stand with our clients to hold the Los Angeles County child welfare system accountable to the youth in its care.
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