Too many children who are removed from their parents or biological home go from one bad situation to another – they are neglected or abused while living in foster care. Social services have a duty to place them in a safer environment from where they were removed from, but these children are at the mercy of foster parents. Sadly, there are many cases where children are abused in foster homes.
Unfortunately, children are easy targets for neglect and abuse, and none are as vulnerable as foster kids. Foster care abuse is often not reported —children can feel guilty or ashamed and believe the abuse is their fault, and if they do tell someone about the abusive person kids often think they would be punished. Official statistics show at least 28 percent of kids are abused while in the foster care system, according to Psychology Today but such statistics may be severely underestimating the problem since foster kids are often conditioned not to speak up about the abuse they endure.
When foster kids are abused and neglected due to institutional failures, it is important that they have the wherewithal to know their rights. Attorney Jeffrey Killino can help them make damage claims and hold foster care agencies or a foster parent accountable.
Failure to Report Foster Care Abuse
Social workers sometimes are unaware of maltreatment because they have too many caseloads and cannot properly fulfill their jobs. Others may choose to ignore abuse and neglect until it is too late and the child is reported to the police by a concerned neighbor or teacher–or by emergency services.
“The officials charged with protecting them either do not know what is going on or choose to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, and write no evil in the case file,” wrote one writer for the American Bar Association’s Human Rights Magazine. But failure to report child abuse can result in fines or jail time and being held liable in a civil lawsuit for physical injuries, disability, pain and suffering, medical bills, and future lost wages sustained by the injured child.
Attorney Jeffrey Killino is a nationally recognized child advocate and he fights for the rights of children injured by foster care abuse. But he needs to hear from you first. If you know a foster child who has been abused or neglected, please call us now. We will work for the child on a contingency basis, so you are not charged (nor is the child) for our services. We only earn a fee if we win the case.
Foster Care Facts
America’s child welfare systems are badly broken and children can suffer serious harm as a result. Here are some facts based on 2017 statistics:
- More than 690,000 childrenspent time in U.S. foster care.
- On average, children remain in state care for nearly two yearsand six percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years
- The average age of kids entering care is 8.
- While most children in foster care live in family settings, 11 percent live in institutions or group homes.
- More than 69,000 children – whose mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights had been legally terminated – were waiting to be adopted.
- More than 17,000 young people aged outof foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the Child and Family Services Review has established a national standard for child abuse in foster care of 99.68%, meaning that the state standard is for only 1.34% of foster children to experience abuse at the hands of their foster parents or facility staff members. However, back in 2005 only 15 states met this standard and nine states did not provide data at all, so it is difficult to comprehend the full extent of the foster care abuse problem. Check AFCARS for further information.
The Senate Finance Committee in October 2017 reported that children in the for-profit foster care system were “dying at alarming rates, but the deaths are not being investigated.” According to The Intercept.com, the committee reported that roughly 1,600 children in foster care die each year due to abuse and neglect. The report cited news accounts of children placed in homes with individuals who had been convicted of kidnapping and other serious crimes, with parents who had substance abuse problems, and in homes where caretakers had previously “failed” foster care placements. The federal investigation was triggered by a BuzzFeed News report back in 2015 about a giant corporation called National Mentor Holdings, which, has made huge profits from foster care. At any one time the company has an average of 3,800 children and teenagers in its foster homes. This 2015 report noted that at least six healthy children died in Mentor custody since 2005.
Types of Foster Care Child Abuse
Children placed in a new foster home are often traumatized. They are isolated from their siblings and relatives, former friends, school and community. They are only allowed to bring minimal personal belongings. Sometimes they have to share a room with other foster children, all vying for attention.
Children are often left unattended and unsupervised. Besides not getting the attention they are accustomed to, some foster children are malnourished; some incidents have been reported where children were only fed peanut butter sandwiches– for every meal. They don’t bring lunches to school (often they are home-schooled) and don’t have money. Some kids are left to fend for themselves and have to make their own meals.
They don’t receive proper health care, particularly when home-schooled. Not registering a child in school or being allowed to attend school is also neglect.
Medical neglect includes failure to:
- ignore medical advice
- provide dental care
- give prescribed medicine
- get emergency care when needed
Reports from Social Service Agencies and the media include bruises, cigarette burns and broken bones. Other injuries include crossed eyes, shaken baby syndrome, swollen skulls and more. There have been reports of holding an infant underwater and burning or scalding a child.
Besides the above, signs of physical abuse include flinching at sudden movements; frightened of going to the foster home; fear and mistrust of adults; discomfort with any physical contact, and unusually withdrawn or aggressive.
Psychological/ Emotional Abuse
Bullying and threats of punishment or physical harm can come from other foster kids as well as the foster child parent. Other emotional abuse includes constant criticism and belittling, and withholding support, guidance and love.
Signs of emotional abuse are similar to physical signs (above). Other examples include being fearful of doing something wrong; low self-esteem; extremes in behavior such as very passive or aggressive; socially withdrawn; does poorly in school, and frequently complains of stomachaches or headaches.
Sexual abuse with a child includes fondling; sexual intercourse; indecent exposure; forcing a child to undress and showing pornography.
Signs of sexual abuse includes complaints of pain in the genital area; bloody underwear; difficulty sitting or walking or not taking part in any sports activities; reports of nightmares or bedwetting; seems knowledgeable in sexual behavior, and quickly forms attachments with strangers or new adults.
Foster Child Rights
Children who are wards of the state in foster have the same rights as other children. They all have a right to live in a safe environment that is free of all types of abuse and neglect. Children who have been abused in foster care also have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the foster parents who were charged with their care, and/or the state and any agency that failed to properly screen and monitor their placement for the negligent acts that caused them harm. As well, children have the legal rights to sue any doctors and counselors who neglected to see the signs of abuse that resulted in the child being subjected to additional abuse.
Children in foster care have the right to be compensated for any physical and emotional harm they suffered.
What You Can Do
If you suspect that a child in foster care is being abused or neglected in any way, we believe that everyone is obliged to report it. All it takes to possibly help a foster child is a confidential phone call to foster care neglect and abuse lawyer Jeffrey Killino. Just one phone call can start an investigation by attorney Killino and his team that can remove the child from a neglectful or abusive environment and take action against those responsible – they must be held accountable to prevent future abuse.
As well, some people are legally bound to report suspected abuse or neglect. If you work in health care, education, social work or law enforcement, call Jeffrey Killino today. Remember that the first thing to stopping neglect or abuse is reporting it, even if you aren’t sure. If it’s never reported, a child can suffer needlessly.