Lawsuit claims inadequate care of foster children by welfare agencies


Lawsuits need to be filed in every county in every state of the Union until children who are not really abused are given back to their parents by the agencies that steal them to sell them

Apr. 14, 2010
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lawsuit claims inadequate care of foster children by welfare agencies

Group files lawsuit to force changes

By BRIAN HAYNES
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL A national child advocacy group has filed a new federal lawsuit in hopes of revamping a child welfare system it says has failed in caring for Southern Nevada’s abused and neglected children.

The federal lawsuit filed in Las Vegas late Tuesday by the California-based National Center for Youth Law names 13 foster children as victims of a variety of failures by Clark County’s Department of Family Services.

The lawsuit also names the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The allegations include failures to provide proper medical and mental health treatment, to investigate abuse and neglect allegations while children were in foster homes, and to provide an advocate for court hearings.

“Kids are not safe in foster care in Clark County,” said Donna Coleman, founder of the Las Vegas-based Children’s Advocacy Alliance and a frequent critic of the county’s Family Services.

The lawsuit also seeks class-action status for three subgroups among the county’s 3,600 foster children.

The National Center for Youth Law filed a similar lawsuit in 2006 but withdrew it in October after running into several legal issues, including the fact that the original foster children named in the lawsuit had been adopted or had aged out of the system.

The federal judge on the case also had concerns that the class action was too vague and that the lawsuit didn’t seek monetary damages for the plaintiffs.

The new lawsuit was written to address those concerns and narrowed the class action to three groups: children younger than 3 who haven’t received early intervention services; children who haven’t received a case plan within the required 45 days; and children who did not receive an appointed advocate to represent them in court.

The new lawsuit also seeks monetary damages for the foster children named in it.

“We expect the jury to return substantial damages for the children who were harmed,” said Bill Grimm, an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law.

One issue raised that wasn’t included in the initial lawsuit is what Grimm called the overuse of psychotropic drugs to treat foster children and a lack of oversight in their use.

For example, 11-year-old Henry A. was taken to a hospital intensive care unit last year because of drug poisoning after taking various medications without proper oversight by caseworkers, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also takes aim at a 2009 law meant to streamline foster care placements with relatives, known as kinship care. The lawsuit said the law requires only a criminal background check for potential caregivers, which fails to determine whether they are properly trained or qualified to care for a foster child.

One example cited in the lawsuit involved 9-year-old Olivia G., who was beaten with a belt and made to hold up stacks of books as punishment while living with her cousins and grandparents.

Grimm said the county’s child welfare system has done little to improve since the first lawsuit was filed.

“Children are still not protected from harm,” he said. “Children are still at risk in Clark County.”

Spokesmen for the state and county agencies named in the lawsuit said they could not comment because they had not reviewed it.

Richard Wexler, executive director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said the lawsuit will fail because it doesn’t address the key problem in the state’s child welfare system.

Nevada’s rate of removing children from homes is 70 percent above the national average, which overloads caseworkers and leads to them missing dangerous situations, said Wexler, whose group favors keeping families together.

The high rate of removal is the elephant in the room, he said.

“The system probably stinks every bit as much as NCYL thinks it stinks,” he said. “But if you ignore the elephant in the room, you won’t fix your system.”

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281

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
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One Response to Lawsuit claims inadequate care of foster children by welfare agencies

  1. Rose Moore says:

    I did not see mentioned in this law suit the educational part. A couple of years ago we lost alot of kids in the system. CCSD had kids supposedly in Foster Care and Foster Care did not have them on their list. Than Foster Care had kids going to CCSD schools and CCSD did not know this or what school they were going to. Total Confusion all around. Can this be added to the lawsuit?

    Like

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