If you or someone you know was harmed or abused in foster care, you may have a lawsuit. RepresentYou is a lawyer referral service than can help people find a lawyer to sue the people who have harmed them. RepresentYou is a State Bar certified lawyer referral service that try help people find lawyers with a minimum of 20 years of experience in dealing with child services lawsuits, our lawyers also carry malpractice insurance and have no disciplinary action from any bar association.
Our lawyers may be able to work on a contingency fee basis, a contingency fee can mean you don’t pay unless you win. This means that suing child protective services for harming your child can cost you nothing until the case is resolved in your favor.
Foster Care Abuse Lawyer
If your child was wrongfully removed from your home and harmed or abused in foster care, you should get legal help. RepresentYou has a panel member who is suing the law firms who were representing indigent mothers with child custody problems. If you or your child’s rights have been neglected due to DCFS, we may be able to refer you to a DCFS family law attorney who may work on your personal injury case on a contingency fee basis.
Some could say that child and family services has fallen short of their goals when dealing with children and their families. DCFS child services is an important resource to protect children and families as people across the country depend on child protective services for their children and families protection. DCFS can be an important tool for child protection however, in some cases the Department of Children and Families (DCFS) has fallen short of their duties in caring for children. In these cases RepresentYou is here to help, our lawyers are very experienced in dealing with department of children and families and any type of negligence or wrongdoing they have caused to children or their families.
Children Harmed or Killed by Their Foster Parents
By Mareva Brown
Bee Staff Writer
In the last 13 months, the state of California has settled or paid claims of more than $3.5 million on behalf of children harmed or killed by their foster parents, state documents show.At least 26 settled claims on file with the state Department of Social Services paint a picture of children abused by people who promised to provide them sanctuary from abusive homes. The children were sexually abused, died from medical neglect — often involving complications of already identified conditions — or harmed in household accidents.
“One claim is too many,” said Robert Fellmeth, executive director of the San Diego-based Children’s Advocacy Institute. “These kids are helpless. They’ve already been hurt badly; that’s why they’re in foster care.”
In one case on file, a girl was repeatedly raped by her foster parents’ son for years. Yet, despite two abortions and the birth of a baby by her abuser, the girl was allowed to remain with her foster family. The son subsequently pleaded guilty to criminal sexual abuse and his mother to child endangerment, according to the settled claim.
Ultimately, the girl was paid $1 million by the state’s Foster Family Home and Small Family Home Insurance Fund. The fund was established in 1986 to provide liability coverage for foster families so that more adults would become foster parents.
Critics of the system, such as Fellmeth, say the volume of settled claims for child abuse or negligence — 26 cases in 13 months — suggests that California’s grossly overcrowded foster care system is re-victimizing society’s most vulnerable children. In fiscal year 1996, for example, the fund only paid out $468,000.
Those who oversee the system say that while tragic, some abuses are to be expected in a system dealing with 100,000 foster children, and argue that the settlements are a relatively small number and do not necessarily indicate poor quality of care.
“Logically, there’s going to be an increase in all things related to foster care because there are more kids in the system,” said state Department of Social Services spokeswoman Sidonie Squier. The claims, which were obtained by The Bee after a public records act request for documents in October 1998, range in severity from an 8-year-old boy whose elbow was severely broken and permanently damaged to a 41/2-year-old girl who died three days after incurring blunt force head and body injuries. The foster mother claimed the girl had fallen from a bunk bed. State officials have refused to publicly identify the mother or say whether she was held criminally accountable.
The Bee filed a lawsuit against the state Social Services Department seeking the identities of the foster parents involved in the settled claims, but last week Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled that state law prohibits such disclosure.
The claims encompass:
- Seven deaths, including a 9-month-old girl who suffocated on a plastic bag in a crib and a 2-year-old who drowned in a toilet.
- Nine sexual abuse cases, including a 3-year-old boy who was molested, burned on his leg and buttocks and suffered from malnutrition.
Additionally, eight non-fatal accidents, including
- A 12-month-old who choked on a cheese sandwich and remains in a vegetative state,
- A 9-year-old who was severely bitten on the face by her foster mother’s German shepherd, and
- A 4-month-old baby who suffered a fractured skull when he was shoved out of a crib by a 2-year-old.
In each of the cases, the state Social Services Department refused to identify the foster parents involved or provide documents indicating whether criminal charges were pursued against them. Because these foster parents were shielded, it is also unclear whether they continue to care for foster children. State officials said that under state law they could not release the identities.
The two remaining incidents involve
- A 7-year-old boy who was assaulted by other youths at a foster home and
- A family whose three children were placed in foster care without notifying family members of the allegations against them. Those children were returned to their parents after five months.
Fellmeth, of the Children’s Advocacy Institute, said the liability fund initially was set up to protect foster parents in the event foster children might be harmed by other foster children in their homes. He finds it ironic that only one of the cases claimed abuse by others within the home. Yet he doesn’t foresee a remedy.
“We have such a tremendous undersupply of foster parents,” he said, estimating that there are twice as many children needing homes as a decade ago with roughly the same number of available foster homes.
He believes the claims indicate a foster system in trouble, where there is such demand for homes for displaced, abused and neglected children that social workers often ignore warning signs.
Squier, the social services spokeswoman, disagreed that the system is breaking down. “I don’t think it’s a fair leap to say foster parents aren’t as good as they were 10 years ago,” she said. “If anything, the rules have tightened. The training has tightened. The screening has tightened.”
Still, attorney James McElroy, who sued the fund for several victims, said in many instances there are “red flags” that are ignored by social workers and others within the system.
One case on file involves children who were repeatedly molested by their foster father. McElroy said the father had been given supervision of the kids, even though there were previous allegations of sexual misconduct against the foster family. McElroy brought claims against the system on behalf of five of the seven children in that foster home.
“There was a big report about it,” he said. “The social worker knew it. It should have been a red flag.”
Another girl was raped repeatedly during the eight years she lived with her foster father and his adult son. Although the foster mother discovered the girl’s diary, which detailed the son’s abuse, the foster mother told social workers that the girl had denied it when confronted. The son was later sentenced to a prison term for the sexual abuse.
Lawyer for Children Who Were Harmed or Abused In Foster Care
RepresentYou is a lawyer referral service than may help people find a lawyer to sue child services. As a lawyer referral service, RepresentYou helps people find lawyers with a minimum of 20 years of experience in dealing with DCFS lawsuits, malpractice insurance, and have no disciplinary action from any bar association. In some cases, our lawyers may be able to work on a contingency fee basis, a contingency fee can mean you don’t pay unless you win. This means that suing child protective services for harming your child can cost you nothing until the case is resolved.