Illinois Foster Care Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Do you need an advocate to protect a foster child? Is the child being abused by their foster parents or the foster care system? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys advocate for minor children experiencing abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
Our legal team can file a civil lawsuit against foster parents for the child's physical, emotional, and sexual damage. Call our foster care abuse attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation and discuss your legal rights. All sensitive information you share remains private through a confidential relationship.
A Child Protective System
Many courts place children under foster care, which is usually a state-run system where minors are placed in private homes under the care of a ward of the state. Others are placed with state-certified caregivers in group homes, treatment centers, and residential child care communities.
Although foster care is meant to support abandoned and orphaned children, it can sometimes be an abusive place for kids to live. However, since most foster children are too scared and fragile, they don't always report to the authorities when abused.
In any case, a young girl or boy is highly vulnerable, making them easy targets. Some of them are put in foster care because their biological parents abused them at home.
Besides being scared, they may also feel too guilty or ashamed to report foster care abuse since they may not trust or feel comfortable enough around the representatives from the children's bureau or family services.
If the government authorities fail to do their jobs properly, the child's mental and physical health and life could be at risk. Recognizing the signs of child maltreatment or emotional abuse can help save a child's life.
Noble Intent to Provide Care to Troubled Children
Foster homes are intended to be a safe but temporary home for the minor, with the long-term goal of relocating the child with a permanent family and home.
Although foster care is supposed to provide a safe and supportive environment for children, sometimes the foster home becomes a source of extreme neglect or abuse. Abuse can include physical assault, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.
A Broken Foster Care System?
The explanations why abusive conditions exist in the foster care system vary greatly. However, long-term studies repeatedly demonstrate that the primary reasons for poor care include:
- Inadequate screening of foster care families
- Inadequate monitoring of children placed in a foster care environment
- Moving children too frequently from one family to another
- Overwhelmed foster care systems
- Poor training of staff
- The responsibility of Illinois foster care agencies is to safeguard children placed in homes
Taking Legal Action
The minor may bring a cause of action against the negligent agency for the abusive conduct of their foster parent or the foster system. Typically, these lawsuits are based on the agency's failure to implement the necessary safeguards to put children in a safe foster care environment.
Other cases are based on the foster care agency's failure to recognize the abusive situation that led to the child's physical, emotional, sexual, or financial harm.
Being a child, the victim cannot bring a lawsuit without the assistance of an adult. However, the court may decide that involving a guardian may be necessary.
Some of the foster care agencies serving Illinois that could serve as legal guardians include Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, Little City, Child Link, Childserv, Foster Enterprise, and Jewish Child & Family Services.
Types of Foster Care Abuse
Foster children are already going through some trauma, whether it's abandonment, the death of a close relative, or abuse at their own homes. Often, the foster care agency fails to put the child in the right home due to negligence or being overworked due to a heavy caseload.
As a result, the foster child ends up in a home where they're subjected to child abuse of all kinds. Here are common types of foster care abuse:
If foster parents are hitting, striking, punching, or hurting the child physically in any way, that's a huge red flag.
Around the country, there have been incidents of foster parents hurting children with cigarette burns, hitting them, and inflicting physical pain to a point where children have ended up in hospitals.
Since foster youth does not have an adequate support system, they become easy targets of sexual abuse at the hand of foster parents or other people who frequent the foster home.
According to NY Daily News, a man in Long Island was accused of molesting eight boys in his foster care. The accused was taking care of 106 foster kids. After multiple complaints from the neighbors and anonymous tippers, the man was finally charged, and the boys were taken away from his custody.
In some cases, the child may be facing sexual abuse due to neglectful foster parents who're letting dangerous people into the house.
The child is likely being emotionally abused if they are visibly unhappy or show extreme behavior, like excessive aggression.
More importantly, if the child has attempted suicide or shows signs of no attachment to the foster parent, these are huge red flags. On the other hand, if a foster caregiver constantly humiliates, belittles, or blames the child for things they did not do, that's a sign of emotional or psychological abuse.
Foster Care Neglect
If a child's necessities, such as food and health, are not being met, the parents could be held legally liable. For instance, the parents may not be feeding the child or not adequately dressing them according to the weather.
Along with physical harm, foster children may also suffer at the hands of sexual predators and emotional abusers. That's why it's essential to keep your eyes open for any foster care abuse and report it immediately.
The national foster care system is designed to ensure the child's mental, physical, and emotional safety. In case the child is stripped of these fundamental rights, the foster parent can be held liable.
If you notice any signs of abuse and neglect in a foster home, consult a legal professional to ensure the parents are held accountable for their negligence or maltreatment of the child.
Determining Abusive Behavior of Foster Parents
You don't necessarily have to look at the child for signs of abuse and neglect. The Child Welfare Services has issued a PDF with information about signs of abuse to look for in a foster parent. Typical signs of neglect and abuse include:
- Shows little to no concern for foster kids
- Constantly blames the minor under their care for poor academic performance
- Denies there's anything wrong with the minor
- Asks teachers to give harsh physical punishments to the child for misbehaving or doing poorly in school
- Sees the minor under their care as a burden or entirely worthless
- Depends on the child for emotional needs and personal satisfaction
- Demands over-the-top academic or personal perfection from the child and gets abusive when the minor fails to meet their expectations
Along with these signs, the parents' behavior with their foster children can also reveal suspected abuse. For instance, the child and parent may rarely look at each other or even sit on the same side of the room.
In addition, the minor may talk to their friends about having a poor relationship with the foster parent. In some cases, both the foster kids and the parents explicitly state their dislike or hatred for each other.
Foster Care and the Law: Protecting Children Against Abuse In Foster Homes
If you suspect a child is being abused while in the foster care system, you can report it to the authorities. The foster care agency is legally required to take necessary steps to keep the minor safe.
If your child faced sexual abuse or physical assault in a foster home, you can file a lawsuit against the foster parent or report it to Child Protective Services.
A child may be placed in foster care because their home is no longer safe, their parents or guardians are no longer able to provide proper care, or the child no longer has a parent or guardian to care for them. The primary goal of foster care is to return the minor to its home – if possible.
Unfortunately, many children are placed in Illinois foster care homes that are not safe for them and suffer lifelong trauma as a consequence. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is an Illinois foster care abuse law firm representing children negligently placed in these environments by foster care placement agencies.
Signs of Abuse in Foster Children
Most often, foster children do not report the abuse inflicted upon them. As a result, it can sometimes be hard to determine if the child is doing well in the foster home.
Here are some signs of abuse and neglect in minor kids.
- The minor flinching when the foster parent is near
- Unexplained burns, broken limbs, or bruises
- Patterned injuries, such as finger or belt marks
- A child being frightened to go near the foster parent
- A minor being uncomfortable at physical touch
- Unusually aggressive behavior
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
- A child excessively scared of making a mistake
- Extreme behavior (too passive, too compliant, too angry)
- Poor performance in school
- Socially withdrawn
- Poor self-esteem
- Low confidence and not friendly with other minor kids
- Difficulty sitting, walking, or playing
- Complaints about pain in the genitals
- Blood on pants or underwear
- Reporting nightmares or insomnia
- Unusual knowledge of sexual behavior for their age
- Not dressed appropriately for the weather
- Constantly hungry
- Routine absence from school
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of primary dental and medical care
Keep in mind that these are common signs of foster care abuse and do not always confirm the abuse. However, if you notice these signs and the child's discomfort or pain are apparent, it's essential to take steps to hold the negligent parents responsible for their actions.
Illinois Foster Care Lawsuits on Behalf of Abused and Mistreated Children
In circumstances where a placement agency had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous situation – yet failed to act – and the individual was repeatedly harmed, a legal claim may be pursued against the agency responsible for overseeing the situation.
Much of the actual harm done to a foster child is psychological. Because of that, the case must be presented by attorneys who are experienced in conveying the significance of these life-changing circumstances to a jury who may be hearing about an incident that took place years prior.
Foster Care Abuse FAQs
Our law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with the foster care system, Child Protective Services, and law enforcement over abuse concerns involving a minor. An abuse injury attorney answered some of those questions below.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form today for more information. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
How Common Is Abuse in Foster Care?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, abuse in foster homes is more common than you would imagine. Psychology Today reports that 28% of children suffer abuse at the hands of a foster parent. However, these statistics aren't exactly accurate since most minor kids never report the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse inflicted upon them.
In another survey reported on Youth Today, up to 40% of children are abused in foster homes. While some of these children undergo physical assault, others face extreme neglect.
Why Do Foster Parents Abuse?
Foster parents may abuse children due to many reasons. For one, they may be responsible for taking care of many children, and the stress is getting to them. Secondly, some parents have insufficient support and training from their designated social worker. Thus, they fail to provide proper care for the children.
Sometimes, agencies fail to do their duty according to regulations and put children under abusive adults' care. In some cases, troubled children may provoke the parents, eliciting an abusive reaction.
Meanwhile, a foster parent may neglect foster kids due to their history of drug abuse or alcoholism.
Is the Foster Care System Abusive?
Although not meant to be abusive, the foster care system can sometimes do more harm than good. For instance, the chances of a minor being abused in the foster home are double that of a child at risk of abuse in their own home.
However, not all foster parents are abusive. If Child Protective Services perform proper background checks and the social workers are not burdened with excessive work, they will choose the best homes for children.
Why Are Foster Homes So Bad?
Foster homes can be harmful due to many reasons. Firstly, some children in foster care are troubled. Therefore, when they are placed with other children, they can not only cause harm but influence them to perpetuate bullying.
Secondly, an abusive foster parent can make the foster home a living hell for the kid. Thirdly, social services are almost always overworked and fail to follow up on the children's progress and care properly, leading to unreported abuse or neglect.
What Are the Adverse Effects of Foster Care?
Any minor subjected to child abuse at the hands of their caregivers might not develop properly. Along with having physical effects, abuse can also restrict a child's social and emotional growth. Moreover, if the child suffered abuse, they could develop habits that lead them into troubled adulthood.
A minor may end up with a personal injury as bad as broken bones in the worst-case scenario. Thus, it's essential to file a civil lawsuit promptly or relocate the minor to a trustworthy relative's home.
A Chicago Legal Team for Children in the Foster Care System
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, our personal injury attorneys are proud to fight for the rights of abused children and remain committed to seeking justice for those who have been abused due to the incompetence of a foster care agency.
Our team uses proven litigation techniques and has successfully demonstrated the neglect of agencies responsible for monitoring the child's care.
These agencies were charged with looking after children placed in the homes of temporary or long-term foster families but failed in their duties. As a result, we have recovered significant financial compensation to cover our clients' damages.
Call our foster care abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to use the contact form to today schedule a free consultation. All information you share with our law office concerning abuse and neglect remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
We accept all personal injury cases through a contingency fee agreement, meaning no upfront fees are required. We are paid for our legal services only after successfully resolving your case through a jury trial award or negotiated settlement.
Our office is headquartered in Chicago, but we regularly handle matters across Illinois and the entire Midwest.