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Foster Care Abuse Lawsuit FAQ

Drug Rehabilitation Center Residential FacilityFoster care, or out-of-home care, is a temporary housing arrangement for children who cannot live with their families. When a child’s home becomes unsuitable for living, he or she may enter into foster care until it is safe to return. Foster care should be a secure, stable environment for a child during a difficult time. Unfortunately, foster care abuse can take away a child’s chance for a fresh start.

What is the Purpose of the Illinois Foster Care System?

The purpose of the Illinois foster care system is to provide care and protection to children at risk. The foster care system came about as a way to give children with unsafe or unsuitable home lives a place where they can go while their parents or guardians sort things out. Foster care programs may temporarily place children with relatives, unrelated foster parents, group homes, or emergency shelters. Common reasons children may enter into foster care include the following home-life situations:

  • Physical or sexual abuse.
  • Child neglect or abandonment.
  • Medical neglect.
  • Drug use.
  • Incarceration.
  • Truancy.
  • Death of relatives, with no available family.

Can a Child Placed in Foster Care Ever Return Home?

Yes, birthparents resolve the issues at home and create a more suitable living environment, a child in foster care can return. If not, the child may stay in foster care or go up for adoption, if this is in the child's best interests. Foster care can be critical to a child's well-being. As of October 2016, 437,465 children in the United States were in foster care. Unfortunately, not every foster care situation is better than the one the child left.

How Does Foster Care Work in Chicago?

The Chicago foster care system involves a program of investigation, supervision, and care in order to advance a child's interests. First, child welfare officials will investigate claims of child abuse or neglect. Claims may come from concerned loved ones, neighbors, or teachers. Child welfare services may visit the home of the child to determine whether he or she would fare better in a foster home situation. If the child has suitable family members, child protective services may order the child live there instead. Otherwise, the child may need to go to a foster home for a temporary amount of time.

During out-of-home care, a child will continue attending school and receiving medical services as needed. In the meantime, the child's family will receive support to reduce the risk of mistreatment to the child in the future. The ultimate goal is to reunite the child with his or her family. Parents and relatives may be able to visit if it is in the child's best interests. Over time, the child may either return home and reunite with family or be given another permanent living arrangement, such as having custody given to a relative or being adopted by someone else.

What are Common Problems Within the Illinois Foster Care System?

Some common problems within Illinois foster care include abuse, neglect, and malnourishment. It is a sad reality that many children in foster care will suffer further abuse in a system meant to protect them. Foster families, group homes, or shelters may not improve the well-being of the children they support. Instead, they may cause additional damage to a child's health, wellness, and emotional state. Foster care abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental or emotional abuse
  • Child neglect

The average time spent in foster care is just over 18 months. Almost one-third of foster children remain in the system for over two years. Staying in the foster care system can increase the odds of a child experiencing some form of neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, issues with the child welfare system can lead to a child switching from home to home over the course of many years.

How Does Illinois Encourage Foster Parents and Agencies?

To encourage more people to become foster parents - and to help pay for the costs of taking in an abused or orphaned child - the government offers money for families that foster. Some people care more about the money they make than the well-being of the children they foster. This can lead to unsafe and abusive foster care situations. In other cases, a group home may have negligent or malicious supervisors that cause child abuse.

Although acquiring a license to foster children takes orientation, training, background checks, and health screenings, not all foster parents are good for children. Some may pass inspections only to use their power as foster parents to abuse or neglect children. The same is true for group homes. They may pass inspections, yet still fail to provide the appropriate standard of care. Negligent, careless, and abusive people can make foster situations dangerous for children.

Foster care abuse can cause significant physical, emotional, and psychological damage to victims. Children in bad foster care situations may suffer physical injuries, scars, and emotional distress that could last a lifetime. If you suspect foster care abuse or mistreatment, speak up. Talk to an attorney to start an investigation and civil lawsuit.

How can You Protect Children's Rights in Chicago Foster Care?

You can always stand up for children in foster care against abuse by helping them bring a claim for relief. Many foster parents and group homes provide stable, loving, and supportive environments for foster kids. Sometimes, however, supervisors put children through neglect, mistreatment, mishandling, or abuse. In these situations, the foster child or legal guardian has the right to file a civil claim against the perpetrator - as well as the foster care organization, if applicable. Filing a civil claim can help an abused child seek justice and financial compensation for his or her damages.

Can I sue a Chicago Foster Care Agency for Abuse?

Yes. If a child suffered abuse while at a state-run facility, you need to sue the employees involved instead of the agency or state itself. 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.

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.

To sue a private placement company, you would need to argue that the private business that placed the foster kid was negligent and that it didn't reasonably put the kid in a safe environment according to conventional standards. For example, if the business did not conduct any or sufficient background research, the court might find negligence. The standard of liability for private causes of action in Illinois foster care abuse cases is much lower than those brought against state employees.

How Many Children are in the Illinois Foster Care System?

There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care across the United States, and tens of thousands of children in foster care in Illinois. Annually, over one thousand kids get sent to a foster home in Illinois. A great many of these children experience some form of abuse, but, unfortunately, only a small portion of it is ever reported.

What Should I do if I Suspect Mistreatment of a Child in Chicago Foster Care?

If you suspect a child is being mistreated at a Chicago foster home, it is vital that you contact the appropriate authorities in a discreet and confidential manner. Reporting suspected child abuse or neglect is imperative to the child's wellbeing. If you suspect a foster kid is being abused, use the legal system to report your fears. That state will have resources to process the matter. Some agencies like child protective services or family services employ professional staff members that can assess the risks and take appropriate action.

You can find your state's agency and toll-free number by using the Child Welfare Information Gateway, run by the Children's Bureau, Admin for Children and Families. The agency also may direct you how to make a report of neglect or abuse.

Outside of reporting it to the appropriate authorities, be careful of taking further action. You might endanger the kid by doing so. Avoid injecting yourself into the situation. Consider the cops, medical, and other professionals before doing anything. At the very least, speak with your state's agency (and possibly the policy) before doing anything.

What are the Signs of Abuse in Foster Care Homes?

Foster care abuse can take many forms depending upon the underlying form of mistreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc. With these kinds of harms, here are some common signs that point out what a child is going through:

  • Broken bones.
  • Scrapes.
  • Swelling.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Nightmares.
  • Genital pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bad grades.
  • Bad teeth.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Truancy.

If you fear a foster kid is being abused, contact our offices. Our team can figure out if he/she is being treated improperly.

How Much are Illinois Lawsuits against a Foster Care Worth?

How much an Illinois foster care lawsuit is worth depends on damages. Damages is a legal phrase. It means all the ways a defendant harmed you. It's the sum that he/she owes you for your claims. You need to account for a couple of key categories. Think of your costs. These are your economic damages. Add up all the medical bills, lost money, property loss, and other out-of-pocket fees. Then, think of how the foster abuse intangibly hurt the child. This is non-economic damage. It is often the biggest area of recovery. It compensates kids for the pain, suffering, lost self-esteem, and change in normal life the abuse created. It dwarfs economic recover sometimes. We've seen it double or even triple the out-of-pocket compensation.

Then, if the foster abuse is really offensive, courts might award punitive damages. These are supposed to punish egregious conduct and warn others not to the same. Again, they can multiply your economic damages by a factor of four, five, or six. This makes sense too. Kids suffer a lot from foster abuse. Yet, their losses don't really come in the form of bills or tangible costs. It's more about how it changed their lives for the worse.

These three categories are the biggest areas of recovery for kids in foster abuse suits. They determine what the foster abuse case will be worth. In child abuse cases, we see awards of millions of dollars. Even the average is around hundreds of thousands. Foster care abuse is the same kind of case. You see similar verdicts and award ranges. Yet, to get a precise estimate, it's good to talk to seasoned lawyers. They'll sit down with you and review the facts. That will give you a tailored forecast. Then, you'll know what your foster care abuse case might fetch.

What is the Purpose of the Illinois Foster Care System?

The purpose of the Illinois foster care system is to provide care and protection to children at risk. The foster care system came about as a way to give children with unsafe or unsuitable home lives a place where they can go while their parents or guardians sort things out. Foster care programs may temporarily place children with relatives, unrelated foster parents, group homes, or emergency shelters. Common reasons children may enter into foster care include the following home-life situations:

  • Physical or sexual abuse.
  • Child neglect or abandonment.
  • Medical neglect.
  • Drug use.
  • Incarceration.
  • Truancy.
  • Death of relatives, with no available family.

Can a Child Placed in Foster Care Ever Return Home?

Yes, birthparents resolve the issues at home and create a more suitable living environment, a child in foster care can return. If not, the child may stay in foster care or go up for adoption, if this is in the child's best interests. Foster care can be critical to a child's well-being. As of October 2016, 437,465 children in the United States were in foster care. Unfortunately, not every foster care situation is better than the one the child left.

How Does Foster Care Work in Chicago?

The Chicago foster care system involves a program of investigation, supervision, and care in order to advance a child's interests. First, child welfare officials will investigate claims of child abuse or neglect. Claims may come from concerned loved ones, neighbors, or teachers. Child welfare services may visit the home of the child to determine whether he or she would fare better in a foster home situation. If the child has suitable family members, child protective services may order the child live there instead. Otherwise, the child may need to go to a foster home for a temporary amount of time.

During out-of-home care, a child will continue attending school and receiving medical services as needed. In the meantime, the child's family will receive support to reduce the risk of mistreatment to the child in the future. The ultimate goal is to reunite the child with his or her family. Parents and relatives may be able to visit if it is in the child's best interests. Over time, the child may either return home and reunite with family or be given another permanent living arrangement, such as having custody given to a relative or being adopted by someone else.

What are Common Problems Within the Illinois Foster Care System?

Some common problems within Illinois foster care include abuse, neglect, and malnourishment. It is a sad reality that many children in foster care will suffer further abuse in a system meant to protect them. Foster families, group homes, or shelters may not improve the well-being of the children they support. Instead, they may cause additional damage to a child's health, wellness, and emotional state. Foster care abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Mental or emotional abuse
  • Child neglect

The average time spent in foster care is just over 18 months. Almost one-third of foster children remain in the system for over two years. Staying in the foster care system can increase the odds of a child experiencing some form of neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, issues with the child welfare system can lead to a child switching from home to home over the course of many years.

How Does Illinois Encourage Foster Parents and Agencies?

To encourage more people to become foster parents - and to help pay for the costs of taking in an abused or orphaned child - the government offers money for families that foster. Some people care more about the money they make than the well-being of the children they foster. This can lead to unsafe and abusive foster care situations. In other cases, a group home may have negligent or malicious supervisors that cause child abuse.

Although acquiring a license to foster children takes orientation, training, background checks, and health screenings, not all foster parents are good for children. Some may pass inspections only to use their power as foster parents to abuse or neglect children. The same is true for group homes. They may pass inspections, yet still fail to provide the appropriate standard of care. Negligent, careless, and abusive people can make foster situations dangerous for children.

Foster care abuse can cause significant physical, emotional, and psychological damage to victims. Children in bad foster care situations may suffer physical injuries, scars, and emotional distress that could last a lifetime. If you suspect foster care abuse or mistreatment, speak up. Talk to an attorney to start an investigation and civil lawsuit.

How can You Protect Children's Rights in Chicago Foster Care?

You can always stand up for children in foster care against abuse by helping them bring a claim for relief. Many foster parents and group homes provide stable, loving, and supportive environments for foster kids. Sometimes, however, supervisors put children through neglect, mistreatment, mishandling, or abuse. In these situations, the foster child or legal guardian has the right to file a civil claim against the perpetrator - as well as the foster care organization, if applicable. Filing a civil claim can help an abused child seek justice and financial compensation for his or her damages.

Can I sue a Chicago Foster Care Agency for Abuse?

Yes. If a child suffered abuse while at a state-run facility, you need to sue the employees involved instead of the agency or state itself. 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.

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.

To sue a private placement company, you would need to argue that the private business that placed the foster kid was negligent and that it didn't reasonably put the kid in a safe environment according to conventional standards. For example, if the business did not conduct any or sufficient background research, the court might find negligence. The standard of liability for private causes of action in Illinois foster care abuse cases is much lower than those brought against state employees.

How Many Children are in the Illinois Foster Care System?

There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care across the United States, and tens of thousands of children in foster care in Illinois. Annually, over one thousand kids get sent to a foster home in Illinois. A great many of these children experience some form of abuse, but, unfortunately, only a small portion of it is ever reported.

What Should I do if I Suspect Mistreatment of a Child in Chicago Foster Care?

If you suspect a child is being mistreated at a Chicago foster home, it is vital that you contact the appropriate authorities in a discreet and confidential manner. Reporting suspected child abuse or neglect is imperative to the child's wellbeing. If you suspect a foster kid is being abused, use the legal system to report your fears. That state will have resources to process the matter. Some agencies like child protective services or family services employ professional staff members that can assess the risks and take appropriate action.

You can find your state's agency and toll-free number by using the Child Welfare Information Gateway, run by the Children's Bureau, Admin for Children and Families. The agency also may direct you how to make a report of neglect or abuse.

Outside of reporting it to the appropriate authorities, be careful of taking further action. You might endanger the kid by doing so. Avoid injecting yourself into the situation. Consider the cops, medical, and other professionals before doing anything. At the very least, speak with your state's agency (and possibly the policy) before doing anything.

What are the Signs of Abuse in Foster Care Homes?

Foster care abuse can take many forms depending upon the underlying form of mistreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, etc. With these kinds of harms, here are some common signs that point out what a child is going through:

  • Broken bones.
  • Scrapes.
  • Swelling.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Nightmares.
  • Genital pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bad grades.
  • Bad teeth.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Truancy.

If you fear a foster kid is being abused, contact our offices. Our team can figure out if he/she is being treated improperly.

How Much are Illinois Lawsuits Against a Foster Care Worth?

How much an Illinois foster care lawsuit is worth depends on damages. Damages is a legal phrase. It means all the ways a defendant harmed you. It's the sum that he/she owes you for your claims. You need to account for a couple of key categories. Think of your costs. These are your economic damages. Add up all the medical bills, lost money, property loss, and other out-of-pocket fees. Then, think of how the foster abuse intangibly hurt the child. This is non-economic damage. It is often the biggest area of recovery. It compensates kids for the pain, suffering, lost self-esteem, and change in normal life the abuse created. It dwarfs economic recover sometimes. We've seen it double or even triple the out-of-pocket compensation.

Then, if the foster abuse is really offensive, courts might award punitive damages. These are supposed to punish egregious conduct and warn others not to the same. Again, they can multiply your economic damages by a factor of four, five, or six. This makes sense too. Kids suffer a lot from foster abuse. Yet, their losses don't really come in the form of bills or tangible costs. It's more about how it changed their lives for the worse.

These three categories are the biggest areas of recovery for kids in foster abuse suits. They determine what the foster abuse case will be worth. In child abuse cases, we see awards of millions of dollars. Even the average is around hundreds of thousands. Foster care abuse is the same kind of case. You see similar verdicts and award ranges. Yet, to get a precise estimate, it's good to talk to seasoned lawyers. They'll sit down with you and review the facts. That will give you a tailored forecast. Then, you'll know what your foster care abuse case might fetch.

Speak With Our Foster Abuse Attorneys Today

Afraid that a child you know, and love is at risk for abuse? Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers fight on behalf of injured and abused children across Illinois who are part of the foster care system. We help kids get out of dangerous situations in foster care and elsewhere so that they can live happy and healthy lives. Speak to one of our experienced lawyers today to learn about how we can protect the children you care about. We can schedule a free consultation to discuss all options available. We work for free until we get you help. Let’s start right now!

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