Children & Youth Law Clinic Helps Foster Child


Miami Law's Children & Youth Law Clinic (CYLC) recently received a favorable decision from an Administrative Law Judge in a lawsuit that the clinic filed against the State of Florida's Agency for Persons with Disabilities ("APD") nearly two years ago. The Judge's decision recommends that the CYLC's client – a 17-year-old foster child, known in the lawsuit as "E.U." – be declared eligible to participate in the Developmental Disabilities Home and Community-Based Services Waiver or the Family and Supported Living Waiver administered by APD through the state's Medicaid program. These two programs, known as Medicaid Waiver, provide vitally important, life-sustaining services for individuals with developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation, autism, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy.

In 2009, APD denied E.U.'s application for Medicaid Waiver benefits claiming that he did not have a developmental disability – mental retardation – that would qualify him for the program. The CYLC challenged the agency's denial and the matter was referred to the Division of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee. Two of the clinic's legal interns, Seida Wood and Rachel Goldstein, conducted a five-hour video teleconference hearing last October before the Administrative Law Judge, under the supervision of CYLC professor Lux Guacci. The court heard testimony from three expert witnesses and entered more than 30 exhibits into evidence. APD was represented by an experienced trial lawyer from the Attorney General's Office.

"The students did extraordinarily good trial preparation and their evidence, expert witness testimony, and post-hearing memorandum were very persuasive in making the case that APD erroneously denied the benefits that E.U. deserves and needs," said Professor Bernard P. Perlmutter, Director of the Children and Youth Law Clinic. "The client will 'age out' of foster care later this year, so he will greatly benefit from the services that APD provides as he transitions out of foster care into the community."

This is the second time that the CYLC has prevailed in a lawsuit on E.U.'s behalf. In May 2010 the clinic won an administrative hearing against the Agency for Health Care Administration which had terminated the client from the specialized therapeutic foster care program without any notice to him or his counsel. Read more about the earlier case here.

The Children & Youth Law Clinic is an in-house, live-client clinic established in 1995 by the Law School. The CYLC represents children in foster care and former foster youth in dependency, health care, mental health, disability, independent living, education, immigration and other general civil legal matters, ensuring that they have a voice in court proceedings.