Washington State Dept. Of Social and Health Services v. Keffeler

In October 2002, Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in a case challenging Washington State’s practice of allocating the full amount of a child’s Social Security or Supplemental Security Insurance benefits for the cost of care of a child in foster care without using any of the funds for the child’s special needs.

The Supreme Court of Washington had ruled that doing so violated the Social Security Act and the Supremacy Clause.  The State of Washington appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Juvenile Law Center’s brief urged affirmance of the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling that the reimbursement policy violates Social Security Act requirements that the benefits must be allocated based on the best interests of the child and based on individualized determinations. Juvenile Law Center further argued that the state policy violated the Supremacy Clause and took advantage of economically disadvantaged children.

The United States Supreme Court held that the state of Washington could use children’s benefits for the cost of their care as long as current and foreseeable needs of the children are met.    

Court Documents