Foster Care Abuse

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This presentation accompanies Amanda Hawkins' article entitled, "Reduce the Abuse: Exploring Solutions to Abusive Foster Care," written for a class at Regent University School of Law. The professor posted the paper & presentation on her Family Restoration blog. Read more at http://regentfamilyrestoration.blogspot.com/2011/05/end ing-foster-care-abuse-is-step-toward_20.html Learn more about Regent University School of Law at http://law.regent.edu.

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Foster Care Abuse :

Foster Care Abuse REDUCE THE ABUSE! By: Amanda Hawkins

Foster Care… Through the Eyes of a Child :

Foster Care… Through the Eyes of a Child http :// www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbrk_Rd8xEU&feature=related http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNIlXOALJjo&feature=related

Cases of Foster Care Abuse:

Cases of Foster Care Abuse Stephanie Ramos : 8yr-old with severe disabilities Foster mother, Renee Johnson, a retired nurse from Queens, discarded Stephanie’s 28-pound body , in a garbage bag, on an Upper East Side sidewalk, that was later found in a garbage truck . This was the 2 nd time Stephanie was found this way. This time she died. Logan Marr : 6yr old Foster care mother, Sally Schofield , a highly respected former caseworker for Maine's Department of Human Services (DHS), was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison, after police determined that Logan had died from asphyxiation after being bound with duct tape and strapped into a high chair in the basement. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/marr / Bruce Jackson : 19yr old Foster parents adopted Bruce and three other boys from the New Jersey foster care system -- Michael, 9, Tyronne , 10, and Keith, 14. After years of abuse, they were finally charged with starving and neglecting the 4-foot, 19-year-old Bruce. Starving was so serious, that none of the boys weighed more than 50 pounds when they were found by the police . http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6260435n&tag=related;photovideo

History of Foster Care System:

History of Foster Care System Established early as 1832 Rooted in social concerns for orphaned, poor, and needy children “child rescue philosophy”

What is Foster Care? :

What is Foster Care? T he goal of the modern foster care system is… to create a temporary, homelike setting to protect and nurture children who are unable to live with their biological parents due to reasons such as abuse , neglect , or abandonment

The Problem With Foster Care:

The Problem With Foster Care Premise of this system: child's natural parents can be rehabilitated, foster family is a temporary, stable substitute In reality, many states have failed to provide even the most rudimentary protections to foster children For too many children, foster care is a dangerous place Most children linger in foster care for longer than expected and their living situations are anything but stable

What is Foster Care abuse?:

What is Foster Care abuse? A bused child: victim of sexual activity , endangered , exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death , inflicted other than by accidental means, or an injury or death which is at variance with the history given of it, suffers physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child's health or welfare, because of the acts of his parents, guardians, or custodians Ohio Rev. Code Ann . § 2151.03.1 (2011).

What is Foster Care abuse?:

What is Foster Care abuse? A neglected child : abandoned by the child's parents, guardian, or custodian; lacks adequate parental care because of the faults or habits of the child's parents, guardian, or custodian; whose parents, guardian, or custodian neglects the child or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical or surgical care or treatment, or other care necessary for the child's health, morals, or well-being; whose parents, guardian, or custodian neglects the child or refuses to provide the special care made necessary by the child's mental condition; who , because of the omission of the child's parents, guardian, or custodian, suffers physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child's health or welfare . Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2151.03.1 (2011).

Why Foster Care Abuse Exists?:

Why Foster Care Abuse Exists? T he failure of state child welfare agencies to meet professional standards , C hild welfare departments not adequately reporting the actual extent of maltreatment that occurs in foster care, A mount of accountability of the foster care system Increase in the population of children in foster care due to an increase in drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and homelessness Approximately 303,000 children enter the foster care system annually …Most have some sort of physical or mental issue upon entering foster care

Foster Care abuse as a problem now and in the Future:

Foster Care abuse as a problem now and in the Future Children in foster care are physically abused at a much greater rate than children in the general population 40%of foster children end up on welfare or in prison Foster children are 67x more likely to be arrested than children who did not grow up in foster care

Legal Options Available to Victims of Foster Care Abuse :

Legal Options Available to Victims of Foster Care Abuse Victims of foster care abuse can sue their abusers either through individual damages claims filed by their biological parents , or the estates of the deceased foster child, or through class action lawsuits filed for the abused foster children by child advocacy groups and public interest law firms . IE: Children's Rights Inc. http://www.childrensrights.org/about/mission-and-methods /

Statistics of Foster Care:

Statistics of Foster Care 423,773 children in foster care in the U.S. on Sep. 2009 . The average age of children in foster care was about 9.5 years old. The largest percentage (24%) of children were between the ages of 15-17 years old . The average length of stay for a child in foster care was about 26.5 months. The highest percentage of the children (19%) stay in foster care for less than 5 months , while 11% of the children were reported to have stayed 5yrs or more.

Statistics of Foster Care Abuse:

Statistics of Foster Care Abuse Foster children suffer abuse 10x more often than children in the general population . Child is nearly 3x more likely to die of abuse in foster care than in the general population National standard for the absence of maltreat­ment* in foster care as 99.68%, This means they are permitting .32 percent of abuse as acceptable. * Maltreatment = neglect , physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse.

Statistics of Foster Care:

Statistics of Foster Care Many cases of child abuse and neglect in foster care either go unreported Some mandated reporters do not report because: “ insufficient evidence, lack of certainty that abuse has occurred, the belief a report will cause additional harm, and the need to maintain a good relationship with patients and clients ambiguity of the statutes mandating certain people to report child abuse ignorance of certain people that they are required to report the abuse found by Child Protective Services (CPS) as unsubstantiated and therefore are dismissed

Foster Care Abuse Case Law :

Foster Care Abuse Case Law U.S . Supreme Court has not had a case specifically addressing liability of abuse in foster care Individual foster care abuse claims are denied because: qualified immunity, lack of ‘deliberate indifference,’ and no state action Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a state has a constitutional duty to protect foster children from abuse

Does State have a constitutional duty to protect foster children from abuse?:

Does State have a constitutional duty to protect foster children from abuse? Court recognized the possibility of this duty in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services. In the foster care context, the state always retains legal custody; when it places a child it cedes only physical custody . Therefore , it would be consistent with DeShaney if foster parents were found to be sate actors, under title 42, section 1983 of the United States Code; this would allow the state to maintain legal custody of the child, and accordingly hold the state responsible to act if it knew of the child abuse.

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse:

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 [CAPTA ]: provide financial support and improve the standards of operation for the many child protective services. required states to pass reporting laws for known cases of child abuse, provide for prompt investigation of child abuse complaints, provide for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the best interest of child victims of abuse and neglect.

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse:

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 [AACWA] : to provide families with sufficient pre-placement, remedial, and support services to keep families together and prevent removal of the child ; to provide appropriate care and services to children in foster care; and to reunify families where possible or expedite permanency by locating permanent adoptive homes for children that could not be reunited with their parents

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse:

Federal Legislation Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) : to prevent children from being returned to unsafe homes To diminish the ‘foster care drift’ by finding safe, loving, and permanent homes for children who cannot be reunited with their families

State Statutes Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse :

State Statutes Enacted to Address Foster Care Abuse Ohio Revised Code through its statutes: defines the different forms of child abuse, the expected mode of conduct, the liabilities of those who disobey the law, and the punishments for engaging in the stated forms of unacceptable behavior IE: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2919.22 ( 2011)

Child Protective Services (CPS):

Child Protective Services (CPS) Why foster care abuse continues: CPS not being held liable (immunity) CPS replacing the children within other abusive foster homes Foster parents not being held liable Foster parents keep getting more children after abusing

Slide 38:

Solutions

Solution 1:

Solution 1 Guardian Ad Litum (GAL): Assigning a Guardian ad Litum to every reported child abuse case and allowing rights of children to be represented adequately GAL would work alongside an attorney, appointed to represent the child’s wishes and legal interests .

Solution 2:

Solution 2 Mandatory Legal Representation : Assigning mandatory legal representation for the children in abuse cases, who will work to represent the child’s wishes and legal interests, as a client.

Solution 3:

Solution 3 HALOS’s: Partnering of cases workers with faith based community organizations to help meet the children’s needs .

Solution 4:

Solution 4 Prevention: Preventive measures taken by the state within the community: creating and supporting structures and institutions that support the well-being of children and the parent’s caretaking of children, like the schools and neighborhoods. helping parents to care for their children’s physical, emotional, and financial needs including: ensuring the availability and adequacy of; child care for young children whose parents work, programs to deal with parental substance abuse, mental health services for parents and children, financial aid services to assist poor families with meeting their basic needs, including housing, and supportive community systems.

Solution 5:

Solution 5 Ombudsman/Advocate: Third party community based organization that is enacted by statute to assist with the investigation and gathering of information assuring the needs and rights of all the children involved in foster care are met .

Solution 6:

Solution 6 Prepare and Train: Better preparation and training of all the people who are involved with and come into contact with abuse victims in order to better identify abuse and know how to handle the situation ad children effectively including: police workers, caseworkers , social workers, doctors , counselors , teachers , prosecutors .

Solution 7:

Solution 7 “One strike you're out”: Never allowing an abusive foster family to repeat as foster parents Remove them from the state's families of available care providers

Conclusion:

Conclusion The unnecessary and tragic abuse children are experiencing while in the foster care system can be reduced, and eventually eliminated, through the implementation of several solutions by the state. REDUCE THE ABUSE!

Helping You Defend America’s Children Against Foster Care Abuse :

Helping You Defend America’s Children Against Foster Care Abuse Many States, most health practitioners and child care professionals are required to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect in a timely manner. Failure to report is detrimental to the child & can result in fines or jail time and being held liable in a civil lawsuit for physical injuries, disability, pain and suffering, medical bills, and future lost wages sustained by the injured child . http://www.keanelaw.com/practice_areas/foster-care-abuse.cfm

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