The US Department of Health and Human Services defines abuse and neglect as any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm. The federal definition of Foster Care is 24-hour substitutecare for children placed away from their parents orguardians and for whom the State agency had placementand care responsibility
About 52,000 U.S. children are placed in foster care each year because of abuse and neglect at home. Foster homes are expected to provide a stable and nurturing environment for children who need care. Unfortunately, some foster homes harbor sexual predators and other abusers. To make matters worse, often children abused in foster care may be afraid to seek help from anyone, and feel they have no choice but to submit to their abuser due to their living situation.
In most states, the task of placing children in foster care is contracted out to privately-run social service agencies. These agencies have a responsibility to screen prospective foster families to ensure they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for at-risk children. Unfortunately, considering that so many children in foster care are abused, it is clear that many of these agencies are falling short in their duty.Many of the state child welfare departments responsible for overseeing the foster care system are too understaffed and poorly funded to properly monitor placements, or thoroughly investigate abuse claims when they are made. As a result, a large amount of foster care abuse is concealed, allowing predators to go undiscovered and unpunished.
Just because a child is a ward of the state in foster care doesn’t mean they lack rights. Like any child, foster children have a right to a safe and secure environment. If a claim is made, the criminal justice system should investigate and prosecute foster care abuse, just as it would any other crime against a child. Survivors of foster care abuse also have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the state and any agency that failed to adequately screen and monitor a placement situation where they were harmed.
If you don’t know where to turn for help first, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline. 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.
If you or someone you love was a victim of foster care abuse, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against the abuser, as well as the agency responsible for placing you or your loved one in a dangerous environment. Contact the foster care abuse experts at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz today tolearn more or pursue your foster care abuse claim.