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Can I Sue a Foster Care Agency?

We Don’t Tolerate Negligent Foster Care Agencies!

Child Holding Hands Foster Care ParentAdoption rates have risen all across the US. More and more kids are being placed in foster care. It’s supposed to be a gateway to a long-term placement. However, some kids end up staying there for a long time. When they’re there, they get abused and neglected. The rates of abuse might shock you. This process has long-term effects on the children too. They grow up with social and emotional issues that affect their everyday life.

Our attorneys do not tolerate abuse in foster homes. We work to put these companies out of business. In fact, the placement company has a duty here. They’re supposed to place the kid in a safe place. If this doesn’t pan out, they can be liable in court. We want to explore that topic now. Read the few sections. They’ll show you on what grounds you can bring a case against a placement business for child neglect or abuse.

  1. How the Foster Care System Works
  2. What Goes Wrong in Foster Care?
  3. Foster Care Abuse Facts
  4. On What Grounds can I Sue for Foster Abuse?
  5. Let Our Trusted Team Help You!

How the Foster Care System Works

Most states have a similar foster care system. The government steps into the shoes of the parents. It then makes significant decisions for the child. For instance, it decides on long-term placement. In between the original and adoptive parents, foster care fills the void. Of course, problems often happen there. That’s why we’re scrutinizing the system right now.

It used to be that the state would run the foster and adoptive lifecycle. In the years since the number of parentless children grew. It became unwieldy for government to place kids. Thus, they began allowing private companies to manage that process. Those companies needed to become certified. Then, they had to abide by strict standards too.

The goal of placement agencies is to put kids in safe foster homes. However, not all of them follow through on that promise. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck. Other times, it’s because placement companies are failing in their responsibilities. They’re not doing their job. Next, we’ll outline the effect this has on kids. Then, we’ll explain what you can do about it. You can sue placement agencies. It just has to be in a certain way like the way described below.

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What Goes Wrong in Foster Care?

The truth of foster care falls far below the promise. Far too often, kids are beaten, taunted, and neglected. We find that some forms of abuse that are more common than others. Physical, mental, and sexual attacks rank as the most frequent kinds of abuse that are sometimes easy to identify. Kids might have scars. They might act older than their age suggests. The abused child may wet the bed in response to extreme abuse when the perpetrator has access to the child. It’s uncommon to see a random aggressor with no attachment to the foster home. However, it does occur.

The breakdown in foster care starts at the placement agency. This entity has no incentive to protect kids once the children are placed. The agency acts as a matchmaker. They are paid for that service and their responsibility to protect and defend the children. However, the child is often not being protected. The facts below paint a stark picture.

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Foster Care Abuse Facts

Below are some stats and info you might not know about the foster care system.

  • Kids entering foster care are about six on average.

  • Kids leaving foster care are about eight on average.

  • Many foster kids go back to their biological parents.

  • There are a little more than half a million kids in foster care.

  • About a quarter of foster kids live in group homes. About a quarter of foster kids live with relatives. The rest live with non-relatives in foster care.

  • More than half of foster care abuse is due to neglect.

  • Roughly one-third of foster abuse comes from caretaker drug usage.

  • About one in ten foster kids are taken out of the home for physical abuse.

When you remember how many kids are in foster care, small percentages of abuse can mean a lot of hurt children. What can you do to stop this? Can you sue placement agencies for abuse? Yes, in some instances you can bring a lawsuit, now we will discuss the grounds upon which you can sue.

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On What Grounds can I Sue for Foster Abuse?

We shouldn’t have to wonder how to sue for foster abuse. The system should work. Kids should get the shelter and support they need. It doesn’t work out that way though. All too often, foster kids suffer unspeakable abuse. They see their foster parents using drugs. They experience taunts and threats. They go days without food.

Why does it happen? Generally, abusive homes are a breakdown in the foster process. The placement business or state often put the kid in the wrong home. Making a bad placement can arise for numerous reasons. Here are some of the most frequent causes.

  • Not enough background research was done.
  • Not enough supervision was conducted.
  • There was a failure to follow up with the child's case.
  • Protective action wasn’t taken after repeated violations.
  • Kids were placed in homes with parents without sufficient means.

The destructive actions of the agency are often based on negligence, pure and simple. But how do you go after the wrongful party? It depends who it is.

If the state failed in their duties, you need to sue employees. The state and agency itself are immune under the 11th amendment to the constitution. Lawsuits against state employees for foster abuse are brought under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. The law was initially meant to protect those jailed, imprisoned, and otherwise detained by the government. In custody, people have the right to freedom from abuse and unsafe conditions. Nine of the thirteen federal jurisdictions have applied this logic to foster children. There’s a catch though. To prevail, you must show the defendant had “deliberate indifference” to the risk of abuse for the foster child. Doe v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 649 F.2d 134. That’s a strict standard of liability. Also, defendants can claim qualified immunity. A claim of immunity means they can argue what they did was legal or reasonable at the time. It’s much easier if you sue a private placement company.

In that case, you’d be arguing the private business that placed the foster kid was negligent. It didn’t reasonably put the kid in a safe environment according to conventional standards. You could point to any number of failures to prove it did a faulty job in placement. However, your real hurdle will be showing how these failures led to the kid’s harm. In other words, that they caused his abuse. For example, you might argue the company didn’t do enough background research. The defendant could come back and say they did a sufficient amount. Alternatively, they could argue all the research in the world wouldn’t have stopped the abuse. The latter excuse would be persuasive if a random visitor committed the offense. However, the standard of liability in most lawsuits is lower than most. But the facts in the case you must make is harder.

These are the main grounds upon which you can sue for foster abuse. In the next section, we provide some resources to guide your study. If you have any questions, don’t wait to call. We can speak to you immediately.

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Let Our Trusted Team Help You!

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers files claims on behalf of battered children. If you’re wondering how to help an abused foster kid, call our offices. We can instruct you on how to get help and how much help might be available. We can also bring a case for relief at no upfront cost.

With foster abuse, time is of the essence. If you suspect a child is in danger, contact the authorities. Then, to use the court system to the kid’s advantage, talk to us. We have years of experience helping children. Let us show you how we can put the child on the path back to recovery!

For additional information see the following pages:

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