PHOENIX (Jan. 21, 2020) — Childhelp, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit focusing on prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse, has filed an amicus (or ‘friend of the court’) brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in an important case for at-risk children out of the State of Arizona. The brief supports the State of Arizona’s request that the Supreme Court review lower court decisions allowing a class-action lawsuit to proceed against the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
“All children are unique and precious,” said Peter Gentala, Childhelp’s general counsel. “Efforts to help vulnerable children need to be tailored to each family and each child’s situation. That’s why this lawsuit, which attempts to artificially package the experiences and challenges of tens of thousands of children, makes no sense and will not improve outcomes for children.”
“We applaud any organization seeking to help children victimized by abuse and neglect and in need of care. It’s what Childhelp has fought for – over six decades of service as one of the nation’s leading nonprofits focused on these issues,” said Gentala.
“But we reject the ‘blame the messenger’ approach taken by these class action lawsuits being filed nationwide. States across the country are being forced by lawyers’ groups to spend millions of dollars in court, rather than use those precious resources on the needs of children. Childhelp believes state agencies such as Arizona’s Department of Child Safety need our support, not recrimination, and that the answer to the needs of children in state care can be better found through action than blame. Suing the very agencies seeking to help children ignores the obvious – we need more public servants and resources to help our children, not lawsuits against the ones who do.”
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey exemplified what we believe is the best way to help children,” Gentala continued. “He put people and resources in place who focused on fixing the problems facing foster care – not viewing the challenges through the narrow and unhelpful prism of litigation.”
The brief points out that similar litigation in other states has resulted in millions of dollars spent on attorneys and rigid, less responsive federal monitoring of state efforts to serve children — all without improving outcomes for children.
“The Department of Child Safety should be free to work with families, communities, nonprofits, and providers to serve children. This lawsuit forces it to receive permission and approval of a federal court before everything else. That is an unnecessary bottleneck, which could have tragic results for children,” Gentala said. “We hope the Supreme Court will prevent that from happening in Arizona, as well as provide guidance for the rest of the country.”
The primary author of the brief, and Childhelp’s Counsel of Record before the Supreme Court, is Dominic Draye of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig. Additional amicus briefs supporting the Arizona Department of Child Safety were submitted by the State of Missouri, representing 13 states, and the Secretaries’ Innovation Group, an association of human-services secretaries from multiple state governments. The Arizona Department of Child Safety is represented before the High Court by Paul Clement of the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis
The petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court is styled Faust v. B.K., No. 19-765. Childhelp’s amicus brief, as well as Arizona’s petition for certiorari and other amicus briefs, can be found here.
For any questions about the lifesaving work of Childhelp, please contact Savannah Harrelson, Director of Media Relations, (480) 922-8212 or Rebecca Cooper, Vice President of Public Affairs, (202)345-4864.