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Politics & Government

County Asks That Lawsuit Over Foster Payments Be Dismissed

Allegheny County has responded to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and a woman who is caring for four children without receiving financial help. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Tracy Schaeffer who has taken care of her grand nieces and nephews since 2012. The suit alleges Schaeffer was not notified of her options to become a certified foster parent.

“The county just filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, making lots of arguments that we will respond to in the next month or so. It’s probably going to be several months before the judge is able to make a decision about whether the lawsuit goes forward or not,” said Pennsylvania ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak.

In a brief filed by the county, it states Schaeffer was not entitled to payments because she was not technically a foster parent and the children had never been in county custody. Walczak said Schaeffer was never given any information.

“In this case not only was Ms. Schaeffer never notified that these financial supports are available, she inquired several times about the possibility of getting some kind of support and was simply brushed off or told it’s not available,” said Walczak.

Walczak said the crux of the case is that the county is not notifying family members of children of their options. Had Schaeffer been notified, he said she would have at least known about the option to become a certified foster parent.  

“There may be home visits, there’s some intrusion that goes along with that, but on the other hand the amount of financial support is pretty substantial and many relatives, just out of necessity, are going to want to take advantage of that,” he said.

A spokesperson for Allegheny County said the county does will not comment on the case, as it’s still pending.