Miller v. Youakim

LOCATION:Seneca County Court

DOCKET NO.: 77-742
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 440 US 125 (1979)
ARGUED: Oct 30, 1978
DECIDED: Feb 22, 1979

Paul J. Bargiel – for appellants
Robert E. Lehrer – for appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Miller v. Youakim

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 30, 1978 in Miller v. Youakim

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 22, 1979 in Miller v. Youakim

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The opinions for the Court in No. 77-742, Miller v. Youakim, 77-1134, Montana v. United States, and 77-1248, Illinois State Board of Elections versus Socialist Workers Party will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

In the 77-742, this is from the Seventh Circuit and the case presents the question whether Illinois may prohibit foster children to live with relatives from participating in its Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care program of Illinois.

Under the Illinois statute, foster children placed by the state with unrelated caretakers are eligible for the foster care program.

Children placed with relatives however qualifies only for the basic AFDC program which provides a little monthly payments than the foster care program.

This distinction between related and unrelated foster parents is based on Illinois definition of the term “foster family home” as being a facility for children who are unrelated to the operator of the home.

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the state’s practice conflicted with the Social Security Act and we agree with the Seventh Circuit.

In an opinion filed today with the clerk, we held that Illinois may not consistent with the Social Security Act exclude from its foster care program children placed with relatives.

Section 408 (a) of the Social Security Act establishes certain eligibility conditions of the foster care program among which is required that the child be placed by the state in a foster family home.

The Act defines this term “foster family home” broadly making no distinction between related and non-related foster homes that Congress intended to exclude related foster parents from the definition of this term, we believe that it would have done so explicitly.

The legislative history of the foster care program further reveals Congress’ intent to include in the program all eligible foster children without regard to the ultimate placement.

The program was designed to correct enduring effects of the past neglect and abuse.

There is nothing to indicate that Congress intended to differentiate it amongst children equally neglected and abused.

Absent clear support in the statutory language or legislative history, we decline to attribute such an unreasonable intent to Congress.

The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare also interpret the statute to include foster children placed with relatives.

This interpretation by the agency charged with administering the program is entitled to considerable deference.

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.