Childrens Rights filed a federal law suit against the Patrick Administration for inadequate care and treatment, as well as abuse, of children in foster care today. The Complaint runs some 76 pages and if you don’t find the facts disturbing, well, shame on you.
Coverage of the law suit indicates that children are at greater risk in DCF foster homes than many of them were before removal from their parents.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Western Massachusetts, was brought on behalf of 8,500 children in the state’s foster care system by Children’s Rights, a national children’s advocate.
Named in the suit are Gov. Deval Patrick, Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, and Angelo McClain, the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families.
“There is absolutely no justification for what Massachusetts is doing to its most vulnerable children,” Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights, said in a statement. “It is robbing them of their right to be protected from abuse and neglect and grow up in a safe and stable homes with loving, permanent families.”
According to the complaint, children in state foster care are abused at nearly four times the national rate. Children are further harmed by being frequently shuttled between foster homes, the suit contends, moving an average of five times while in state custody.
I would add that children in foster care are often placed in educational limbo, with no one authorized to sign education plans for special education, and teenagers out of school for months as they are shuttled from foster home to foster home.
The elimination of Guardian Ad Litems for education to oversee and protect the educations of vulnerable, disabled children in foster care has further placed these children at risk. The elimination of case workers at both DCF (formerly DSS) and DMH has reduced oversight still further.
Well done, Children’s Rights. It is unlikely that the care and treatment of children by DCF will pass muster; and a federal suit is the only way to protect these children’s civil rights, and right to equal protection under the law given the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Care and Protection of Jeremy which removed from Massachusetts judges the right to make decisions in the best interests of children in foster care, and Care and Protection of Sharlene where even the power of life and death, in the hands of DCF, received zero over sight.