242 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 37:2 2017]
monitor DCFS’s progress, as there is no other entity holding them accountable.53 On one hand,
DCFS has positively impacted children by implementing new ACLU-approved programs and
raising standards of care to comply with the consent decree terms.54 However, DCFS has also at
times attempted to make changes that are not in line with the consent decree, at which point the
ACLU was forced to request compliance through the court.55
The B.H. Consent Decree was an alternative avenue for change in this situation because it
allowed not only for policy change, but also for accountability from DCFS to ensure maximum
benefits to children. By putting children at the forefront of policy change, the B.H. Consent Decree
ensured the changes would target their needs in a way traditional policy was not satisfying. It
brought deficiencies to light and corrected them.
III. ASHLEY M. V. DCFS
Another case that illustrates the impacts of class action and impact litigation in the child
welfare system is Ashley M. v. DCFS, a case brought in 2013 by the Family Defense Center, a
Chicago-based nonprofit whose mission is to advocate for justice for families impacted by the
child welfare system.56 Unlike B.H. v. Sheldon, the named plaintiffs in Ashley M. were parents,
but nonetheless, its outcomes focused on changing DCFS practices to better serve families and
therefore better serve children. There were six named plaintiffs for the class, all similarly situated
in that they had been affected by a DCFS administrative regulation known as Allegation 60.57
Allegation 60, otherwise known as “environment injurious,” was a catch-all category that DCFS
used to indicate parents for abuse and neglect58 when no other violations could be proven.59 In
1980, however, in Julie Q. v. Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., the Illinois Appellate Court
declared Allegation 60 should not serve as a basis for a neglect finding.60 The Supreme Court of
Illinois later affirmed this ruling and declared Allegation 60 void in 2013.61
However, when the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act was amended in 2012,
lawmakers once again proposed including the language “environment injurious” as one way to
define neglect of a child.62 The final form of the bill as passed into P.A. 97-0803 gave DCFS the
authority to investigate and indicate persons for subjecting a child to an “environment injurious”
meaning the parent or guardian blatantly disregarded their duties and that was likely to cause the
53 Consent Decree, supra note 35.
56 See generally About Us, THE FAM. DEFENSE CTR. (April 9, 2017), http://www.familydefensecenter.net/about-us/.
57 9A ILL. JURISPRUDENCE FAM. L. § 11:106;
Complaint at ¶ 731, Ashley M. v. DCFS, No. 2013-CH-20278, 2013 WL 5273715, (Ill. Cir. Ct. Sept. 3, 2013).
58 See generally 325 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. §5/3 (When a parent has been “indicated” of child abuse or neglect it
means that credible evidence was found that the alleged abuse and neglect exists. When this an investigation is
unfounded, it means that there is not credible evidence that the alleged abuse or neglect existed. If an indicated
report is later unfounded, it means that the adult’s record is expunged of this finding and the status of the report
59 Complaint at ¶ 26, Ashley M. v. DCFS, No. 2013-CH-20278, 2013 WL 5273715, (Ill. Cir. Ct. Sept. 3, 2013).
60 Julie Q. v. Dep’t of Children and Family Servs., 963 N.E.2d 401, 413 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011).
61 Julie Q. v. Dep’t of Children and Family Servs., 995 N.E.2d 977, 986 (Ill. 2013).
62 S.B. 2849, 97th Gen. Assemb., 1st Reg. Sess. (Ill. 2012); Ashley M. v. DCFS, No. 2013-CH-20278, 2013 WL
5273715, at ¶ ¶ 32-38 (Ill. Cir. Ct. Sept. 3, 2013).