For the Good of the Group 247
Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment.106 They asked that while in foster care, the children
were either to be placed in a foster home with their siblings or permitted to visit them regularly.107
The case proceeded to The United States District Court in 1989.108 The claim under the
Adoptive Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 was dismissed, but the First and Fourteenth
Amendment claims remained.109 The court found the siblings had a constitutional right to maintain
these relationships.110 Eventually the court recommended, and the parties agreed, it was best to
settle to avoid the burdens of future litigation.111 The decision to settle came in 1993 and the
resulting consent decree was filed in March of 1994, five years after the case was filed.112
The Aristotle P. Consent Decree required that DCFS promulgate new rules governing the
placements of siblings in foster care and review the placements of siblings currently in foster
care.113 The new rules clarified that it was in the best interest of the child to be placed with a
sibling unless there were short-term diagnostic placements, there was a risk of emotional harm if
placed together, the placement together would remove one sibling from a placement in his best
interest, or a separate placement was necessary for permanency.114 The consent decree also stated
that if the caseworker felt it was not in the best interest of the child to be placed with his or her
siblings, the case plan must reflect why this was the case.115 The new rules also required a diligent
search to locate a placement that could accommodate all siblings.116 The Consent Decree required
a review of placements for all siblings in the foster care system to ensure they complied with the
newly rules promulgated rules.117
Additionally, the Consent Decree mandated that DCFS facilitate sibling contact and
visitation when placement together is not possible.118 DCFS is to provide the foster parents with
the contact information for the sibling or siblings in other care.119 In turn, the foster parents are to
provide for visits for siblings at least twice a month unless ordered otherwise, if the sibling does
not want visits of this frequency, or distance does not permit.120 DCFS is required to facilitate
these sibling relationships whenever possible, with only a few exceptions for good cause.121
Further, DCFS must make sibling contact and visits part of the child’s service plan.122
108 Aristotle P., 721 F. Supp. 1002 (N.D. Il. 1989).
110 Id. (sibling relationships should be protected from unjust state interference); See generally Barbara Jones, Do
Siblings Possess Constitutional Rights?, 78 CORNELL L. REV. 1187 (1993).
111 Aristotle P., 721 F. Supp. at 1012; Consent Decree, Aristotle P. v. Ryder, 88-C-7919, 1, 3 (N.D. Il. 1994),
available at https://www.clearinghouse.net/chDocs/public/CW-IL-0006-0006.pdf.
112 Consent Decree, Aristotle P. v. Ryder, 88-C-7919, 1, 3 (N.D. Il. 1994), available at
113 See generally Consent Decree, Aristotle P. v. Ryder, 88-C-7919, 1 (N.D. Il. 1994), available at
115 Id. at 9-10.
116 Id. at 10.
117 Id. at 10-11.
118 Id. at 12, 15.
119 Consent Decree at 12-13, Aristotle P. v. Ryder, 88-C-7919, 1 (N.D. Il. 1994), available at
120 Id. at 15.
121 Id. at 13-14.