Foster Care Class Actions

  State Action - Sheehey v. State of Hawaii, Civ. No. 14-1-1709-08 VLC


  Federal Action - Sheehey v. Bhanot, Civ. No. CV13-00663 LEK-KSC

Media Coverage

Relevant documents



If you received foster board payments, permanency assistance, adoption assistance, or higher education payments in the past from the Dept. of Human Services (DHS), State of Hawaii, the proposed class action settlement affects you.

What are these lawsuits about?


Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming that the State of Hawaii did not pay enough for monthly foster care maintenance payments, permanency assistance, adoption assistance, and higher education payments. They claimed that the payments were too low under federal law, under state law, under the Department of Human Services’ administrative rules, and under the terms of agreements between resource caregivers and DHS. Plaintiffs believe they are entitled to payment for damages they suffered, equal to the shortfall between the amounts DHS should have paid, and the amounts DHS actually paid.

The State denies that its payments were inadequate or that it owes Plaintiffs any compensation.



Why are there two lawsuits?

  The federal lawsuit focuses on how much DHS should pay for foster care maintenance payments in the future, while the state lawsuit focuses on how much DHS has paid in the past for foster care and other care. Although the two lawsuits focus on different time periods, there were overlapping issues such as, DHS’ process for setting payments and making payments, and the different types of payments DHS makes. Because of the overlap, the state lawsuit was put on hold while the federal lawsuit was vigorously litigated by both sides. Both cases have now settled.

What do I need to do if I am a member of one of the classes covered by this lawsuit?


The state Court in charge of this case must still decide whether to approve the proposed settlement. If you have concerns about the terms of the proposed settlement, you may submit objections to the Court. Your rights and options—and the deadlines to exercise them—are explained in the notice sent to you. Copies of the notices are available on this website for your reference.



What is the proposed settlement?


The proposed settlement resolves a lawsuit over how much the State of Hawaii has paid in the past for basic board payments for foster care, permanency assistance, adoption assistance, and higher education payments.

The proposed settlement will provide a $2.3 million fund that will be used in part to make payments to persons who were resource caregivers (foster parents), legal guardians/permanent custodians, adoptive parents of children with special needs, and former foster youth who received higher education payments between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. Other people are affected by this settlement but will not receive payments from the $2.3 million fund. The $2.3 million fund will also be used to pay court-appointed lawyers fees for investigating the facts, litigating the case, and negotiating the settlement, and to pay certain costs to administer the settlement.


Read more about the settlement

  Important Dates:  
  Aug 7, 2012 -Feb 28, 2017 Time period for inclusion in the settlement classes
  July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014 Time period covered in the proposed class action settlement for which you would be entitled to monetary benefits
  May 31, 2017 Deadline to "opt out" of the proposed settlement
  May 31, 2017 Deadline to mail objections to the proposed settlement
  May 31, 2017 Deadline to mail notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing
  June 23, 2017 Fairness Hearing to finalize settlement
  New Docs added:  
  May 21, 2017 Lone legislator snuffs fostercare settlement - Honolulu StarAdvertiser (May 21, 2017)
  May 21, 2017 How House Leaders Scuttled Better Pay For Foster Parents - Honolulu Civil Beat


Contact the class attorneys