This article suggests that the scope of enforceable section 1983 rights is broader than most courts have recognized. The Act creates comprehensive rights to 1) preplacement preventive services, 2) proper care while children are in state custody, and 3) permanency planning services. Courts must be more willing to recognize these rights and to take a more creative role in structuring injunctive relief when these rights have been violated. Part I is an overview of the Act. Part II analyzes the appropriateness of section 1983 claims under the Act. Finally, Part III analyzes the proper scope of section 1983 claims. The article concludes that private enforcement of the Act is essential if the goals of the Act are to be achieved. As the introductory quote illustrates, the passage of the Act has not, in itself, brought about the necessary changes in foster care. A private right of action for the children and families that the Act is designed to protect has helped, and can further help, to achieve those goals.
Barbara L. Atwell, "A Lost Generation": The Battle for Private Enforcement of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 60 U. Cin. L. Rev. 593 (1992), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/2/.