The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest is part of a legal team representing all of Arizona’s foster children. Our legal team secured a favorable and important ruling on behalf of Medicaid-eligible children in Arizona’s foster care system October 11. The Center argued that the state is failing to provide these children with necessary physical and behavioral health services and therefore puts them at serious risk of harm.
In a forceful order, federal Judge Silver ordered the case to move forward as a class action with subclasses (Non-Kinship Subclass and Medicaid Subclass) – a significant step in ensuring all children in foster care receive the care they need and a testament to the Center’s litigation.
The Court found that states have broad obligations to children in foster care. It rejected the state’s argument that it is only responsible for making services available – not ensuring they were actually received. As the Judge explained: “Arizona may not simply shrug indifferently when children do not request help, but instead must affirmatively determine what obstacles lie between the children and the ‘help that is available,” and then mitigate those obstacles.
The Center made a sufficient showing the state’s failures could expose every foster child that receives Medicaid to a significant risk that they will not receive necessary health care. As this case progresses to trial, the Center expects to prove far too many children do not receive the care the law requires, and the state has implemented a system that leaves Arizona’s foster children at great risk.