Lawsuit against Deval Patrick, Health and Human Services secretary, Department of Children and Families commissioner takes aim at foster care system


This needs to happen in every county of the country. It is time to take back our children

published: Sunday, November 28, 2010, 4:47 PM
By Stephanie Barry, The Republican
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/lawsuit_against_deval_patrick.html

SPRINGFIELD – The state’s foster care system is a wrenching cycle of neglect, abuse and mismanagement for many children, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

A New York-based child welfare advocacy group and a Boston law firm are suing Gov. Deval L. Patrick, Health and Human Services Secretary Judyann Bigby and Angelo McClain, the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, on behalf of six children who allegedly suffered a host of horrors while in state custody.

Four of the six are from Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties while two are from eastern Massachusetts, according to the complaint. The lawsuit fleshes out each plaintiff’s personal story and shines a light on a foster care system their lawyers say is broken. However, lawyers for the state argue that although the system has yielded undeniable heartache for the six plaintiffs, there is no link to widespread flawed policies.

Moreover, lawyers for Patrick and his codefendants say the tragic and delicate world of reuniting families and finding new ones for neglected or abused children is the purview of the state juvenile courts.

Both sides made arguments before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor on Thursday, with state attorneys moving to dismiss the case and plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking to advance it as a class-action lawsuit, which would allow new plaintiffs to be added.

The lead plaintiff, 9-year-old “Connor B.,” went into foster care at age 6, according to the complaint. He has been moved six times to seven different placements – including to his first foster home where he was sexually abused multiple times by a 17-year-old boy previously known to be sexually aggressive. Since then, the boy has bounced around in various placements, including a locked psychiatric facility and a group home.

“Connor’s future remains uncertain. His current foster parents have indicated they do not plan to adopt him,” the complaint states.

Another plaintiff, “Adam S.,” 16, of Franklin County has lived nearly half his life in foster care after he was removed from his mother’s home and was adopted by a couple who physically abused him and his two adoptive sisters, according to the lawsuit. He, too, was transferred from hospital settings to foster homes and other facilities, including a residential treatment facility, where he was brutally beaten by a group of older residents, the complaint says.

At 16, he has no prospects for a permanent family.

Children’s Rights has brought about a dozen similar lawsuits against state-based child welfare departments coast-to-coast, largely with successful results, an attorney with the agency said.

“The goal is to see that systemic ills are fixed .¤.¤. We’d rather not see lawyers fight but come to the table and solve these problems. We’re hoping to get there a lot sooner than later until such time there’s a system here these children deserve,” said Sara M. Bartosz.

In addition to highlighting six children’s cases, the complaint alleges that according to federal statistics supplied by each state’s child welfare system:

•Massachusetts ranked fourth among 47 states for children who are abused and neglected while in its care;
•It ranked eighth for children shuffled between five or more different foster homes while in state care;
•It ranked the 13th worst on timeliness of adoptions;
•Approximately 900 children “age out” of foster care every year with no permanent family and are ill-prepared to live independently as adults; and
•One in six children reunified with their families returns to foster care due to further abuse or neglect.

However, lawyers for the state told Ponsor the data asserted in the complaint was at best flawed, and at worst, dishonest. Robert Quinan Jr., of the state attorney General’s office, also took issue with the plaintiff’s lawyers’ contention that DCF social workers had caseloads of 50 to 70 families.

“That’s simply a lie,” he told Ponsor, arguing that social workers for the department carry an average caseload of 15.7 families.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers are looking for injunctive relief in the federal courts that may include hiring more social workers, better monitoring of the safety of children in state care, improved case planning and higher reimbursement rates for foster parents.

Amy Spector, another lawyer defending the state’s interest, said the defendants all care deeply about children but that litigation may be a misguided way to protect them.

“What is the best way to achieve a goal that everybody shares? To make a child’s life better,” she told Ponsor.

Erik S. Pitchal, a child welfare expert and professor at Suffolk University Law School, said that such lawsuits are typically successful for a number of reasons.

“The system is hidden by this veil, and this type of litigation brings public attention and scrutiny and therefore the attention of government officials,” Pitchal said. “The federal courts are traditionally the place that you go when you don’t have political power but you have legal rights.”

Related topics: deval-patrick, foster-care, michael-ponsor

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Richard_Crosier_448 November 28, 2010 at 5:25PM
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it should be a class action , add me to the list , and you will get all the info, more than just 6 kids add 4 more and EXPAND TO GET BOTH DSS AND DYS and dvc in westfield AND THE WPD

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fuse November 28, 2010 at 5:28PM
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Another abused system while petrolti and others rape the hireing system Sheriffs,allstate and federal employees are corrupt we need a revolution and take back our country, fromthe educated yuppies who have had years at it and have failed miserably, educated yuppies with no common sense,have cost this country ,totumble intothe mess we are now at ,REVOLUTION THATS THE ANSWER.

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arby001 November 28, 2010 at 5:32PM
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does ponser look like jerry springer…or is it just me….maybe anguishedhero will enlighten me here

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dasani4 November 28, 2010 at 6:38PM
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I am shocked there are only 6 named kids, I can add another 10!!!!

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Donna November 29, 2010 at 1:35PM
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As a foster Mom and having over 30 children come into my home over the past 4 years, I believe the whole system needs to be restructured. I, personally, have a heartbreaking story which never, ever should have taken place. Again, because of poor decisions made by DCF and some workers who’s mission should be “what’s in the best interest of the child”, several children were uprooted from loving, caring homes and put back into the exact situation they were removed from a few years prior. As an adult, this was and still is an emotional roller coaster for me and my family. I can only imagine how the children involved must feel. I pray I will someday have the opportunity to explain to my “little boy” and his sisters that we had no control over what happened. He will remain in my heart forever.

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bettyboop November 29, 2010 at 9:21PM
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This is for judge ponsor let me start telling you the side of my story with the DCF my mother-in-law they did her cori and everything for her to get custody of my child and DCF IS PLAYING TO MANY GAMES with our heads they took my daughter from me when she was two days old and now she is going to be two years old and still with the department they took her away from me for no reason because she does not have anything to do because she was a newborn and did not have any marks on her body the reason why was because since my son is with the department for two years now and i have done everything that i was suppose to and i still can’t get him am not a mean mother like they picture it because i do love and care for my kids..the department has hired alot of young adults that does not understand or have kids and does not know how to understand how we feel and play with our emotions as parents we are.this is injustice they are there to help the family not to dis help the family and to reunify the kids with there family or parents or grandparents not with people they do not know or with strangers that could abuse our kids but worst and every mother deserve to have a chance with there kids because everybody makes mistakes in there life…when they put kids in foster home all they want is the money and i bet they leave them hungry and with out clothes also thats why people take kids in homes just for the money..who ever reads this post a comment and give us support on this because the department is injustice…all parents have rights in getting there kids back never give up keep going after what you brought to this world which it was a child..

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bettyboop December 02, 2010 at 5:35PM
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please comment

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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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6 Responses to Lawsuit against Deval Patrick, Health and Human Services secretary, Department of Children and Families commissioner takes aim at foster care system

  1. Pingback: Nelson working on health care alternatives | online car insurance

  2. Kiley been dcf for three yrs plz add me to lawsuite dcf gave me nothin but false promises had me setup a room for her seven times my malden worker nver helped wit services or signed realses just false promises adopt her strangers who abuse her wit hotsauce five 51a s were filed of concern my mom n i were lied to false reports filed i only had kiley for three weeks three months old wen dcf took her i was never given fair chance she been gone three yrs dcf malden dragged my case out i just finished trial in may desion iam on ssi so claimnig me unfit ive got parentin skills dcf said neglected kileys med needs i never did i give anything have her back plz add me as on of parents sincerly brandy skillings marshfield ma

    Like

  3. Save our children from abuse

    Like

  4. Our children belong to us not sytem parents who love do anything for there children deserve a chance dcf never gives parents a chance just false promises to help you its all a lie ma you need to change things people want move out state because they afraid to live raise there kids here dcf has ruined ma by all lies greed money trafficing children judges need wake up they credit soical workers testmony even when they lie i watched two soical workers lie right on stand judge belived everything they said was true they call that justice

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  5. Iam one brandy skillings advocates and i help with the help save kiley facebook page the case is hall family vs dcf what they put that family through its a good thing brandy is strong person and all these years her little girl been gone she deserves to be a mother was never given that chance if you only knew brandy she is a good hearted person she never neglected anyone in her life she devoted her life helping others for dcf to lie say she knows nothing about medical needs well she does! she took care of man name joe mistretta for eight years brandy now takes care kiley grandfather martin hall this should have never happend kiley didnt need to rip from her mother the sytem is selfish money greedy people there are tons of people that stand by brandy that how well she liked by others because of her kindness

    Like

  6. Iam one brandy skillings advocates and i help with the help save kiley facebook page the case is hall family vs dcf what they put that family through its a good thing brandy is strong person and all these years her little girl been gone she deserves to be a mother was never given that chance if you only knew brandy she is a good hearted person she never neglected anyone in her life she devoted her life helping others for dcf to lie say she knows nothing about medical needs well she does! she took care of man name joe mistretta for eight years brandy now takes care kiley grandfather martin hall this should have never happend kiley didnt need to rip from her mother the sytem is selfish money greedy people there are tons of people that stand by brandy that how well she liked by others because of her kindness sincerly rhyanna thompson hanover mass….

    Like

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