Foster Care Child Abuse
Children are among the most vulnerable individuals in society. Children left without the protection of their natural parents are even more vulnerable.
Unfortunately, this frequently makes them targets for all types of abuse.
The foster homes and other care institutions around the country that are set up to provide the protection missing from the family home sometimes fail these children too.
Child abuse in foster care is more common than most Americans like to imagine. Much of it has gone unreported.
However, as sexual abuse and other forms of abuse become more exposed and less tolerated in our society, avenues are opening up to redress the wrongs from the past and improve the futures of our children.
The team of child abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote is at the forefront of assisting victims of child abuse.
Victims of foster care abuse in the United States
Children who are removed from their parents may already be traumatized. The least we should be able to do for such children is protect them from further abuse.
However, we hear the same story over and over again. Those tasked with providing shelter, protection and for the basic needs of children fail at their jobs. Overworked caseworkers miss the signs of abuse and it has continued for years without their knowledge.
Many child victims of foster care abuse felt too shameful or guilty to mention it at the time and, instead, have carried it through their lives into adulthood, desperately trying to forget.
Some blamed themselves. Some were fearful of the consequences if the truth came out, believing that the abuse would get worse if they spoke up.
Victims of foster care abuse have often suffered in silence.
As times and attitudes change, this is no longer acceptable. To put a stop to child abuse, the perpetrators must be exposed and dealt with by the justice system.
In some cases, the laws have been amended to make it easier to prosecute historical cases of abuse. In some small measure, this can help victims of foster care abuse come to terms with what has happened and turn the page.
Abuse in “short stay” foster care
Most of us think of foster care as providing a home for a child for many years.
However, foster care often involves only short stays of days or weeks while social services review the case. Some children are processed in and out of the system multiple times.
According to an analysis by The Marshall Project and Fostering Court Improvement, every year in America almost 17,000 children are removed from their families, placed in foster care, and then reunited with their families within 10 days after the case evidence is reviewed.
In many cases, state officials such as police officers, child-services workers or hospital staff can remove a child from the family home without a court order if they believe the child is in imminent danger. They often need to make snap decisions in high-pressure situations.
This seems to occur most frequently in the most poverty-stricken areas with high Latino or Native American populations – especially if law enforcement officials alone are authorized to remove children without a court order.
In New Mexico in recent years, for instance, around 40 percent of foster children returned home within a few days or weeks.
Removals for “short stays” usually result from suspected neglect by parents or their failure to adequately provide for the basic needs of the children but sexual abuse is another common reason.
While removals are normally well-intentioned, they can backfire. Quite apart from the enduring emotional trauma that taking a child away from the parents causes, those in “short stay” foster care are just as likely to be abused as those with a more permanent arrangement.
What types of abuse occur in foster care?
Being isolated from parents, other relatives, school friends, and everything that they were familiar with at home can be hard enough for children.
Having to contend with the following forms of abuse in care homes makes the situation even more heartbreaking.
1. Physical abuse
Physical abuse includes striking with an object, punching, burning with cigarettes, and worse. Sometimes, the abuse is inflicted by the foster parents or their own children.
2. Sexual abuse & assault
Foster children are sometimes sexually molested by their new parent(s) or by the children of the parents. Sometimes, the offenders have a history of inflicting abuse but remain on the authorized list of care homes.
One recent case in New York state involved a foster parent who had provided care for 106 boys before he was stopped, despite numerous complaints being filed.
Neglect may be the reason for removal from the family home in the first place if a parent fails to look after the child’s basic needs like food, clothing, and health.
To then suffer neglect in foster care compounds the trauma caused to a child. Any foster home that does not provide adequate supervision or look after the basic needs of a child needs to be held to account.
Children in foster care have rights
A child in foster care has the same rights as other children. This includes the right to live in a safe and secure environment, free of danger or harm.
So, if a complaint of foster care abuse is made and enough evidence is discovered, it is the duty of the criminal justice system to prosecute the offender and for the civil justice system to compensate the victim.
By doing this, we can hope to address the serious historical (and current) problems of institutional child abuse in the U.S.
Holding those accused of foster care abuse to account can help the victims move on with their lives.
Rest assured that if you contact the lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote, all the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.
Start with a free and confidential consultation with a foster care abuse attorney.