SystemWide Abuses


Systemwide Abuses
A 1986 survey conducted by the National Foster Care Education Project found that foster children were 10 times more likely to be abused than children among the general population. A follow-up study in 1990 by the same group produced similar results (Maier, 1997). The American Civil Liberties Union’s Children’s Rights Project has similarly estimated that a child in the care of the state is ten times more likely to be abused than one in the care of his parents (Farber, 1993). As of 1996, class action lawsuits had been filed in 31 states, with 36 consent decrees overseeing the operations of child welfare and foster care systems. The most common complaints focused on noncompliance with family preservation requirements, while procedural safeguards, case planning, and placement quality were also frequently cited for noncompliance (Amstutz, 1996).

The advocacy group Children’s Rights has been in the forefront of such legal efforts at system reform, having been involved in actions against child welfare systems in the states of Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana and New Mexico, and the cities of Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Milwaukee, and New York City (Children’s Rights, Inc., 1997a). But such problems are not limited to the states which have been successfully litigated against. As Children’s Rights attorney Marcia Robinson Lowry explained to a Congressional subcommittee: “We have turned down requests from a number of other states to institute additional lawsuits, solely because of a lack of resources” (Subcommittee on Public Assistance and Unemployment Compensation and the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, 1988).

In a legal action brought by Children’s Rights against the District of Columbia’s child welfare system, LaShawn A. v. Kelly (1993), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that “because of the appalling manner in which the system is managed, children remain subject to continuing abuse and neglect at the hands of heartless parents and guardians, even after the DHS has received reports of their predicaments.” The court ruled that youngsters who have been taken into the custody of the District’s foster-care system languish in inappropriate placements, with scarce hope of returning to their families or being adopted, and that the agency entrusted with their care had “consistently evaded numerous responsibilities placed on it by local and federal statutes.”

Among the deficiencies cited was “failure to provide services to families to prevent the placement of children in foster care.” The court determined that the agency had “consistently failed to provide services or otherwise use ‘reasonable efforts’ to prevent placement. The result has been an increased risk of arbitrary or inappropriate placements as well as an increased cost to the District.” Based on the case records of children in foster care as of December, 1989, whose goal was to return home and who had entered into care through voluntary placement, the Court found the agency “had failed to provide services in 77% of their cases.” Frustrated by the lack of progress after years of litigation, child advocates succeeded in placing the District of Columbia child welfare system into full receivership in 1995, making it the first such system in the nation to come under the direct control of the Court. (Gaouette, 1996).

In a Pennsylvania case, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Baby Neal v Casey (1994) ruled: “It is a matter of common knowledge (and it is not disputed here) that in recent years the system run by DHS and overseen by DPW has repeatedly failed to fulfill its mandates, and unfortunately has often jeopardized the welfare of the children in its care.” The original complaint, filed by Children’s Rights on April 4, 1990, alleged that systemic deficiencies prevent the Pennsylvania department from performing needed services, and that it consistently violated the due process rights of both parents and children:

Specifically, plaintiffs claim that these amendments confer the right not to be deprived of a family relationship; the right not to be harmed while in state custody; the right to placement in the least restrictive, most appropriate placement; the right to medical and psychiatric treatment; the right to care consistent with competent professional judgment; and the right not to be deprived of liberty or property interests without due process of law.

One of the plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania suit was “Tara M.” on whose behalf the advocacy group charged the city of Philadelphia with neglect. Human Services Commissioner Joan Reeves guaranteed the young girl an adoptive home with specially trained parents. In August of 1996, Tara M. would make the headlines once again as her new foster parents were sentenced for “one of the most appalling cases of child abuse” Common Pleas Court Judge Carolyn E. Temin said she had ever heard. Nine-year-old Tara had to undergo three skin grafts and wear a protective stocking during her recovery from burns over more than half her body. Police said the foster parents punished the girl by stripping her, forcing her into the bathtub and dousing her with buckets of scalding water. This was the very best of care the city could provide for Tara, a girl who had already endured years of physical and sexual abuse in the several foster homes into which she had been placed over the years (Associated Press, 1996).

Typical of more recent actions is a Youth Law Center suit in California which accused Eloise Anderson, director of the Department of Social Services, of refusing to carry out state and federal laws which require audits of county child welfare programs. Among the deficiencies cited in the lawsuit: “children in California’s child welfare system have been subjected to inadequate supervision, substandard conditions and inadequate health care and education” (Gunnison, 1996). Indeed, the health care and educational needs of foster children are all-too-often neglected by the child welfare agencies entrusted with their care. In a recent examination of whether the nation’s foster children were being adequately serviced with respect to their health care needs, the General Accounting Office (1995c) found that:

[D]espite foster care agency regulations requiring comprehensive routine health care, an estimated 12% of young foster children receive no routine health care, 34% receive no immunizations, and 32% have some identified health needs that are not met . . .

[A]n estimated 78% of young foster children are at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus as a result of parental drug abuse, yet only about 9% of foster children are tested for HIV . . .

[T]hat the Department of Health and Human Services has not designated any technical assistance to assist states with health-related programs for foster children and does not audit states’ compliance with health-related safeguards for foster children.

As for the educational needs of children in state care, the situation is equally as distressing. Miami attorney Karen Gievers, former President of the Florida Bar Association, filed a lawsuit in 1996, alleging that while 73% of Florida children among the general population graduate from high school or get an equivalent diploma, less than half of the state’s foster children do (UPI News Service, 1996

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by Lulu.com October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
This entry was posted in Abuse by CPS, Abuse by Foster Parents and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s