Foster Care Abuse & Neglect

Recent cases of foster care abuse and neglect—including the high-profile case of Jenise and Daniel Spurgeon, a couple approved as foster parents by the state of Alabama in 2004 who were accused of physical abuse, molestation, and child rape—have made national headlines. While these cases are shocking, they are, sadly, not uncommon. According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, numerous independent studies have found that child abuse and neglect occur at alarming rates within the foster care system. The good news? These studies also found that Alabama leads the nation when it comes to child welfare reform. The bad news? This doesn’t mean that foster care abuse has been eliminated.

If you or someone you love was the victim of abuse or neglect in the foster care system, know that you deserve justice. At Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law, our Alabama foster care abuse attorneys represent children and adults who have suffered immense harm due to the terrible acts of trusted adult caregivers. Our firm is passionate about holding these individuals accountable, as well as the entities that enabled them to commit these misdeeds. To date, we have recovered more than $1 billion for our clients, and we are ready to fight tirelessly for you.

To learn more, please call (205) 324-4008 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation. Hablamos español.

What Is Foster Care Abuse?

In the simplest terms, foster care abuse refers to any misconduct or negligence by foster care providers against children in their care.

Like other forms of abuse, foster care abuse generally falls into several categories, including:

  • Physical Abuse: Physical abuse includes any physical acts of violence, such as hitting, pinching, beating, striking, or pushing someone. This can lead to serious physical injuries, such as cuts, bruises, broken bones, internal trauma, head and brain injuries, accidental amputation, spine injuries, and more. In some cases, severe physical abuse can lead to permanent disability.
  • Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse includes any sexual acts committed against a minor (in Alabama, anyone under the age of 19 is considered a minor). The state recognizes that minors are not capable of providing consent; therefore, all sexual contact with a minor is considered sexual abuse. Examples include sexual touching, sexual assault, and rape.
  • Neglect: Foster care parents and guardians have a duty to properly care for the basic needs of children and teens in their care. This includes providing for the child or teen’s nutritional needs and offering a safe and adequate environment in which to live. Foster care neglect may refer to any failure to properly care for a foster child or teen.
  • Mental Abuse: Mental abuse can have just as devastating an impact as physical abuse, but its effects can be more difficult to spot. Mental abuse (also known as verbal or emotional abuse) refers to non-physical acts of aggression toward another with the intent of controlling, intimidating, isolating, or harming the victim. Examples of mental abuse include constant belittling, yelling, threats of physical harm, humiliation, and dismissiveness.

Although foster families are typically the perpetrators of this abuse, they may not be the only liable parties. In fact, recent litigation has been initiated against state institutions that allowed certain individuals to be entrusted with the care of children and teenagers.

Who Is Responsible for Foster Home Abuse & Neglect?

As previously mentioned, foster families are typically the ones to carry out acts of foster care abuse and neglect. However, while they may face criminal penalties for such conduct, they may not be the only liable party when it comes to filing a civil claim.

Depending on the specific details of a given situation, any of the following parties may be wholly or partially liable for foster care abuse or negligence:

  • A foster parent, sibling, or family member
  • Private foster care agencies, including homes for troubled youth
  • State entities, such as the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR)
  • State agents, such as DHR workers
  • Individuals subject to state mandatory reporting requirements

Note that a civil foster child abuse lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings that may (or may not) occur. While the outcome of a criminal case does not necessarily impact the outcome of a negligence case, a conviction against the alleged perpetrator can be used as valuable evidence in such a claim.

Let Morris Haynes Attorneys at Law Fight for You

We believe that people who fail to adequately provide for children and teenagers in their care should be held to the highest level of accountability. Our Alabama foster care abuse and neglect attorneys have extensive experience representing the rights of those harmed by poor or abusive foster care. We have fought on behalf of individuals who were injured while in the care of private foster families, private institutions, and state-run homes for foster youth. We understand the challenges inherent in these types of cases, and we know how to aggressively advocate for the justice you deserve.

With more than 30 years of experience and numerous million- and multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts recovered for our clients, we have what it takes to fight for you. We offer completely free and confidential consultations, and there are absolutely no legal fees unless we recover compensation for you. Reach out to our team today to discuss your legal rights and options with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys.

Call our office at (205) 324-4008 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary consultation. Hablamos español.

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