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A State Court Remedy for the Keffeler Problem

A Call to Action

By Lewis Pitts

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services v. Guardianship Estate of Keffeler, 537 U.S. 371 (2003), allows the use of a foster child’s Supplemental Security Income to reimburse states for the cost of the child’s foster care. Yet In re John G., 652 S.E.2d 266 (N.C. 2007), bars the state agency’s taking of social security benefits and brings into question the practice of converting a child’s social security benefits into a funding stream for state institutions. John G. suggests that advocates use a state court remedy to stop the taking of benefits from foster children. This is an opposing view to that of Angie Schwartz and Diana Glick’s article in the March-April 2008 Clearinghouse Review.

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