Foster care agencies are supposed to protect children and make sure that kids in the foster care system have a safe home. Unfortunately, foster care abuse is common. Sometimes, this abuse can happen because the agencies placing children don’t do their jobs and ensure caregivers have a child’s best interests at heart. Just recently, for example, evidence came to light that a foster care agency had placed a child into a home where the little girl became a victim of sexual abuse.
Because the foster care agency was found to have acted inappropriately, the agency was sued. It was found liable and ordered to pay $5.35 million. This case is an important one because it illustrates that foster care agencies can and should be held accountable when they endanger the kids they are supposed to be protecting.
The foster care agency was ordered to pay such a large sum of money because the agency had repeatedly placed the little girl into a home where she had been abused.
The first known incident of sexual abuse happened in November of 2012 when the young victim was taken out of her own family home and was placed into foster care. The Department of Human Services had contracted with the outside foster care agency to place foster children into homes, including the little girl. The agency placed the little girl in the home of a couple for a period of three days before moving her to the home of a different caregiver.
When the child was moved out of the temporary home that she had been in for the three day period, the little girl’s new foster mother saw signs of sexual abuse. The new foster mother reported the allegations that the little girl had been sexually abused in the home where she had been temporarily placed.
The agency which had placed the little girl into the abusive home was aware of the suspected sexual abuse occurring there. Unfortunately, in February of 2013, the little girl was again put into the same home where the initial abuse had occurred. Unsurprisingly, she was sexually abused again in that home during her second stay when the foster agency sent her there again.
The abuse has been proved in a criminal case. The foster father in the abusive home admitted he had committed the acts of sexual abuse. He plead guilty to multiple charges, including deviate sexual intercourse with children. He was sentenced to between 10 and 20 years imprisonment.
The criminal case imposed a punishment on the abuser, but this did not provide compensation to the little girl for her damages and it did not hold the foster care agency responsible for their role in facilitating the abuse. A civil lawsuit is the appropriate mechanism for making the foster agency pay for their role in harming the child. The $5.35 million verdict awarded is the agency’s consequence for putting the little girl into a situation where the abuse occurred.