Foster Care Child Abuse in Pennsylvania
Who deserves protection more than children in our society? It is a basic right to live free from harm or the threat of harm.
Foster care is an attempt to protect the most vulnerable children: those forced to grow up without the love and care of their natural parents. So, it is particularly disturbing when foster care places them in the path of further harm.
Foster care child abuse in Pennsylvania is, unfortunately, more common than anyone would like to admit. Much of it goes unreported.
The well-publicized problems uncovered here concerning clergy abuse and other forms of child abuse are increasingly being tracked to foster care homes too.
Children are targets for all types of abuse from sexual abuse to neglect and the team of child abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote is at the forefront of assisting victims in Pennsylvania.
UPDATE: HB 963 to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse
Victims of foster care abuse in Pennsylvania
Foster homes in Pennsylvania are set up to provide the type of child protection missing from the family home. Sadly, some have failed our children at various times.
Children without the love and care of their parents may already be traumatized. Protection from further trauma and abuse should be a basic requirement of our society.
However, those tasked with providing shelter, protection and love for such children have sometimes been unable to meet these basic needs. Worse, it has resulted in sexual abuse and further trauma.
Overworked caseworkers miss the signs of abuse and so it may continue for years. Child victims, who felt too shameful to mention it at the time have carried it through their lives, desperately trying to forget. Many have suffered in silence.
Fortunately, they no longer have to. As societal attitudes demand accountability for past abuse and grow less tolerant of historical abusers, more can now be done to assist the victims in getting the justice they deserve.
Sexual abuse in Pennsylvania “short stay” foster care
Short-term foster care is just as prone to abuse cases as long-term care – if not more.
There are many cases in Pennsylvania and other states where a child is shunted into foster care for a matter of weeks before social services assess the case and return the child to the parents.
These short-stay scenarios provide an opportunity for predators to get access to a steady flow of victims.
The Marshall Project and Fostering Court Improvement found that every year, almost 17,000 children are removed from their families in America, placed in foster care and reunited with families within 10 days of the case evidence being reviewed.
The solution seems to be part of the problem: state officials (police officers, child-services workers, hospital staff, etc.) have the power to remove a child from the home without a court order if they believe the child is in imminent danger.
Frequently, they need to make snap decisions in high-pressure situations, so poor judgement may mean that a child is unnecessarily moved from the home into care.
While removals are well-intentioned, they can backfire. The resulting emotional trauma for the child and the parents may be exacerbated by placing the child into the care of a poorly vetted foster parent who has criminal intentions.
What are the most common types of abuse in Pennsylvania foster care?
It is bad enough to be isolated from parents, relatives, school friends, and the familiar surroundings of home. It is almost unimaginable that a vulnerable child also has to contend with abuse from the parent(s) & other adults working with youth organizations entrusted to care for them.
Typically, we see the following three types of abuse in foster care situations in Pennsylvania:
Foster parents or even their own children can be violently abusive to the foster child by striking, punching, burning with cigarettes, and worse.
Sexual abuse & assault
Cases of sexual molestation by the parent or the children of the parents are also disturbingly common. Such offenders often have a long history of abuse but have worked “under the radar” of social services and remain on the authorized list of foster homes.
In some cases, foster parents have provided care for many years for many children, with numerous complaints filed and no action taken.
Neglect is considered a form of abuse as it deprives the child of basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Neglect can be the reason why a child is removed from his or her parents in the first place. To then suffer it in the foster home only compounds the trauma.
There is a basic expectation of a foster parent to help avoid this, so neglect must be identified and the parent(s) held to account.
A child in foster care in Pennsylvania has rights
Children in foster care in Pennsylvania have the same fundamental rights as children everywhere in the US: the right to live in a safe and secure environment, free of danger or harm.
Therefore, any complaint against a foster care provider should be taken seriously and investigated.
If there is enough evidence to prove abuse, the offender must be brought to book and the criminal justice system must prosecute. The civil justice system can also compensate the victim.
Whereas in the past, this rarely happened, the laws in Pennsylvania now make it easier for historical institutional sexual abuse cases to be prosecuted and some measure of justice obtained for the victims.
Importantly, this can help victims put the traumatic events of the past behind them and move on with their lives.
Start with a free and confidential consultation with a foster care abuse attorney at Andreozzi & Foote. Rest assured that all the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.
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