Abuse In Foster Care
Your Experienced, Compassionate Advocates
Children are easy targets for abuse. Whether abused in their biological home or by abusive foster parents, they often do not report it. They may feel ashamed or guilty and believe the abuse is their own fault. They are afraid if they tell someone, nothing will happen to the abusive person and it will only make the abuse worse. This makes them vulnerable and easy targets for abuse by adults.
Children who are removed from their parents are at the mercy of the agencies who are charged with their care. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for government social workers to fail at their jobs and, as a result, children are placed in situations where foster home abuse occurs.
Often, the social workers in charge of a child have an immense caseload which makes it impossible for them to adequately perform their jobs. As a result, children languish for years in abusive foster care homes. Meanwhile, social workers look the other way. As one writer for the American Bar Association noted concerning foster children,
“the officials charged with protecting them either do not know what is going on or choose to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, and write no evil in the case file.”
Our foster care system abuse lawyers at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm are committed to protecting the rights of children who were mistreated, abused, or neglected while living in foster care. We are compassionate, but we are also aggressive and will do our best to see that the children receive all the compensation to which they are entitled from the ones responsible for the harm, including the governmental agency that was in charge.
What is Foster Care in New York
When biological parents have trouble caring for their children in ways that are acceptable to the state, the state steps in and places the child in a home of a caregiver who has been approved and certified by the state’s government agency. The purpose is to provide care to children who are in need.
Although the laws are established at the federal and state level, foster care programs are administered by local agencies and policies may differ between counties. The stated purpose of foster care is to provide a stable environment for the child while social workers work to reunite the child with the parents.
The system allows for kinship care, which means the child or children are placed in the home of relatives willing to help. These relatives must go through the same screening and certification process as do foster parents who are not related to the child. If for some reason, the system does not approve them, the child will either not be placed in their care, or removed from their care if the child has already been placed there.
The government that removes children from parents alleged to be abusive, neglectful or unfit, has a duty to place the children in a safer environment than the one from which the children were removed.
However, there are flaws in the system that, in far too many cases, result in children being abused more in the foster home than by whatever was happening to them in the biological home that caused social services to remove them from the care of their parents.
Types of Child Abuse in Foster Care
Children in foster care suffer from being removed from the care of their parents, often very suddenly, and placed in a new home. In many cases, they are isolated from their former school, friends, relatives, and their church. They may have had to leave behind their own clothes and toys. Often, they are placed in homes where there are other foster children, all vying for attention.
Abuse comes in many ways. Some examples are:
- Physical abuse. Children experience bruises from being hit. Some even suffer from broken bones and cigarette burns. A 4-year-old boy was beaten so badly, his head bashed in by the teenage son of the child’s foster mother, that his life will never be the same. He suffered permanent brain damage. The child’s mother and grandmother had filed formal complaints about their suspicion that he was being mistreated. The response was for caseworkers to submit “an internal report that he was in good health.” The report came at a time that the child was fighting for his life in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
- Sexual abuse. Just last year, a Long Island man was accused of sexually molesting eight different boys who had been placed in his care by the state. The number of abused boys was expected to go higher since, through the years, the man charged had been a foster parent to 106 troubled boys. Neighbors had made anonymous complaints and the foster father was investigated 18 times by New York social workers before he was finally charged and boys removed from his home.
- Neglect. Foster children are found who are hungry because the foster parent has not fed them properly. Some are only fed peanut butter. They may not have received proper health care, or were left to fend for themselves, often unattended or properly supervised.
When children are abused in foster care, in addition to the physical harm, they often suffer from mental harm. Some damage is long lasting and the child may never recover. When this happens, the agencies in charge of certifying the foster parents and placing children in abusive homes may be held liable for the harm the children suffered if the social worker was negligent in placing the child into the hands of the abuser.
Abuse in the Foster Care System: The Case of Baby B
A particularly egregious case was handled by our law firm. We obtained a $1.75 million settlement in “The Case Of Baby B.” This will help him in his recovery, but he was so severely harmed emotionally and physically from neglect that he will never fully recover. His case is an example of one where the child should never have been removed from the home in the first place.
He was literally ripped from the arms of his mother one evening on flimsy allegations that she had neglected him. He was initially placed in kinship care where he was thriving. The caseworker then removed him from the kinship care and placed him with a foster mother who was a stranger and was also overloaded with other children to care for.
Despite pleas from the foster mother to take the baby from her because she could not properly care for him, caseworkers left him there. He failed to thrive and did not develop physically or emotionally. Eventually, he suffered third-degree burns when he became trapped next to a radiator. He is finally back in the care of his father who is working diligently to help his child overcome the results of his extreme neglect.
We are pleased we were able to help this family obtain compensation for the tremendous neglect this child suffered by the New York foster care system that allowed him to remain in the care of a woman who repeatedly admitted she could not properly care for him.
A Child Abused in Foster Care Has Rights
Children in foster care have the right to live in a safe environment that is free of all types of abuse and neglect. Children who have been abused in foster care also have the right to sue the foster parents who were charged with their care for the negligent acts that caused them harm.
The agencies in charge of foster care placements have a duty to protect the children in their care. Their jobs require them to adequately screen potential foster parents to make sure they are qualified to provide the child with proper care and a safe place to live, free of emotional and physical abuse.
If the agencies fail in their job, and children are harmed due to that negligence, the children have a right to be compensated for the harm they suffered.
Free Consultation For Foster Care Abuse:
The Jacob Fuchberg Law Firm is an advocate and protector of children’s rights in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Children who were abused, neglected, mistreated while living in foster care is an injustice we’re passionate about. If you need to protect a child please speak with one of our attorneys immediately by calling 212-869-3500 or fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.
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