Foster Care Abuse
The safety and well-being of children in their care should always be the top priority of the foster care system. State agencies have legal and moral obligations to make every effort to ensure that foster children are placed with families and in homes where they will be protected and cared for. When they fall short of this basic responsibility, they need to be held accountable.
What Is Foster Home Abuse?
There are multiple ways in which states have failed children in the foster care system:
Failure to thoroughly investigate claims of abuse or neglect
When a child or a caseworker makes a claim of abuse, every second counts. In Washington state, Child Protective Services (CPS) is the primary state agency tasked with investigating claims of abuse and must work in conjunction with law enforcement. Should a CPS employee or law enforcement official establish proof of abuse, they have a legal duty to immediately remove that child or children from the situation and relocate them to a safe location.
Failure to thoroughly perform abuse investigations, or delays in the removal process once proof is established, puts children at risk and creates legal liability for any new abuse that occurs.
A lack of proper monitoring and oversight
Even after the state places a child in a foster home, it continues to be responsible for the child’s well-being. The state must perform regular site visits that include child interviews, where they should be able to identify signs that abuse is occurring. However, due to heavy caseloads each case worker often has, follow-ups may be sporadic or not happen at all. When site visits do occur, they are often far less thorough than they need to be to identify abuse.
Failure to perform adequate oversight is inexcusable and workers and agencies tasked with performing this core function create liability for the state and the agency.
Allowing unqualified applicants to become foster parents
The state is responsible for ensuring that foster parents are qualified to provide a safe and stable environment for children placed in their care. While the screening process varies by state, the foster care agency has a legal duty to meet the basic goals of the system, which includes identifying the appropriate placement for the child’s needs and excluding unqualified applicants (those with failed background checks, financial motives, etc.).
If a state agency does not conduct proper diligence when screening foster families and allows a situation where abuse of any kind occurs, the state may be held liable for any injuries to the child.
How PCVA Can Help
If you or a loved one has been the victim of foster home abuse or neglect, you need an attorney advocate on your side. Our experienced trial attorneys have an unrivaled track record of delivering justice for our clients.
When a two-year-old girl in Vancouver, Washington was placed in the custody of a convicted child rapist, our lawyers filed suit against the State of Washington and DSHS. PCVA attorneys Darrell Cochran, Loren Cochran and Cole Douglas worked diligently to secure a $3.1 million settlement on the child’s behalf.
See additional case results.