Florida to pay $2.9 million to kids abused in foster care

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Florida to pay $2.9 million to kids abused in foster care

Postby stopevilnow » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:08 am

(I put the CPS lawyers statement in bold.....it's unbelievable they would even TRY to say that DFS should have immunity because they didn't know of the potential for abuse with the foster family! That's CPS's JOB to KNOW what homes are safe! But then again, we all know they don't know squat!)

State to pay $2.9 million in Nassau foster care abuse case
Three children sexually assaulted in a foster home a decade ago sued the Florida DCF.

Conceding a settlement should have been reached long ago, the state has agreed to pay $2.9 million to three children sexually abused by older kids in a Nassau County foster home.

The agreement follows an appellate decision lawyers called unprecedented that gave the children the right to sue the Florida Department of Children and Families for placing them in a home where danger lurked.

The settlement encompasses both state and federal claims filed against the department and its employees. Under its terms, the money will go into a trust fund to pay for ongoing therapeutic care and treatment for the children, molested nearly a decade ago.

“This was a very tragic case of harm to children in a foster home. We wish it had never happened,” said department spokesman John Harrell. “It has taken way too long to reach a resolution. This settlement will help care for the needs of these children.”

The agreement is scheduled to be presented to a Nassau County circuit judge this morning for approval. About a third of the settlement amount will pay attorney fees. It includes a $1.2 million state court settlement reached in December and a $1.7 million federal settlement announced Monday.

Lawyers for the children said the settlement was bolstered by a December ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. It said the children could sue on grounds that DCF was “deliberately indifferent” to the potential danger they faced when they were placed in the state-licensed foster home.

“This was the first written opinion by a federal appeals court upholding the right of children in foster care to sue for child-on-child sexual abuse,” said attorney Howard Talenfeld, president of the foster care advocacy group Florida’s Children First.

The children’s complaint says they were placed in a home where two known, sexually aggressive adolescents lived, ages 11 and 14. Both foster parents worked, leaving the siblings — then 3, 5 and 8 — at his mercy, said their Jacksonville attorney, Brian Cabrey. They were molested over a 10-month period in 1999 and 2000.

The 11-year-old had previously molested another foster child in the Nassau County home. That assault was reported to DCF’s abuse hotline, according to the lawsuit.

“No background check was done on the setting before the children were left there,” Cabrey said. “And no plan was drafted or implemented to prevent the child-on-child abuse that eventually occurred.”

Lawyers for the former DCF workers had argued to the 11th Circuit that they were immune from liability because they didn’t know about the potential for abuse. But the court concluded, based on the 2005 lawsuit, that the workers showed “deliberate indifference” to the youngsters’ welfare.

The case also exposed numerous record-keeping snafus, prompting an internal report by the department’s general counsel that blasted the Jacksonville office in December for destroying, misplacing and withholding records from the children’s lawyers. Department attorney Robin Whipple-Hunter said at the time that improvements were being made.

Cabrey said the mishandled documents were essential to protecting children in the foster care system and unnecessarily delayed resolution of the case.

“Fortunately in this case we were finally able to get these three young children the help they so desperately need,” Cabrey said.

The children have been adopted together.
"The most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" - Ronald Reagan

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Postby HappyMommyx4 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:56 am

Even once our case is dismissed I am getting out of Florida as fast as I can. My lawyer has told me several times that Florida has the worst DCFS system in the country. :evil:


Postby MaggieC » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:44 pm

It is pretty bad. I had issues with Florida a few years ago on an adult protective case.

My quite elderly aunt (nearly 100 years old) had been preyed upon by a grifter. I am in NY so I was unaware of this. I was also my aunt's only relative, or rather the only relative who cared.

Thankfully, the nurses at her assisted living facility called the authorities but I got nowhere with them. I insisted that this grifter meant to harm my aunt (and I and the nurses were convinced that she was). The grifter withheld medication, isolated my aunt, had all of my aunt's bank accounts signed over to her and so on. Everytime I or my aunt would again place my name as next of kin on the assisted living facility's records, the grifter would strong arm my aunt to change it.

The nurses would call me, I would call my aunt and my name would be put back on.

Luckily, friends in Florida stepped in to assist. I also made a scathing report to the Inspector General and Jeb Bush's office. I found an ear at Bush's office, a crackerjack attorney on his staff who handled elder abuse cases.

And, I and my husband and the friends in FL hired attorneys both in Florida and NY.

It was a nightmare.

My aunt was rescued but apparently this grifter is still on the prowl, just under the radar.

They (CPS and APS) are not about protection. And those who are, the good ones , I think their hands are tied. It is a machine. There is nothing benevolent about child protective or adult protective services.

One's only recourse is to find a good private attorney as quickly as possible.

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