Sadly, many foster children are placed in harm’s way by the people deemed responsible for their well-being. While many children have a positive experience in foster care, there are also cases of foster parent abuse that make legal action appropriate. If you or a loved one have suffered abuse while in foster care, it can be hard to know what to do next.
First, we’ll take a look at how abuse and neglect are defined in South Carolina, helping you to understand whether any negative events that happened to you or a loved one while in foster care are considered abuse or neglect.
In South Carolina, a person, government agency, or corporation responsible for the protection or care of a foster child may be found guilty of abuse if they inflict physical or mental injury upon a child, or act in a way that creates a substantial risk of injury. A person, government agency, or corporation responsible for the protection or care of a foster child can also be found guilty of abuse if they omit actions that are necessary for a child’s physical and mental well-being. Depending on the situation, the foster parent may be directly liable, the South Carolina Department of Social Services may be liable, or a third party contractor may be liable.
When someone commits sexual acts against foster children, or fails to protect and/or supervise them, creating a risk that sexual acts against the child could occur, persons, government agencies, or corporations may be liable for allowing sexual abuse to happen to foster children.
When a foster parent abandons a child or fails to provide them with appropriate food, clothing, shelter, and supervision, the foster parent may be liable for the abuse, as well as any other persons, government agencies, or corporations who allowed it to happen or failed to intervene. Foster parents are also required to provide their foster children with an education appropriate for their age level and health care (as long as the foster parent has the financial means to provide the foster child with health care).
While many types of abuse committed by people, corporations, or government agencies against their foster children have physical consequences, individuals, government agencies, or corporations responsible for the abuse or responsible for allowing it to happen can also be found liable for abuse or neglect when they fail to ensure the child is taken care of a child emotionally. While it can be harder to see the effects of emotional abuse on a person who was in foster care, this type of abuse (or neglect) can have lifelong consequences.
If you’ve recently realized that you or a loved one experienced abuse while in foster care, you likely feel many emotions: anger, confusion, frustration, and uncertainty about the future. It’s important that you get the mental health care you need to move forward after abuse, allowing you to live the fulfilling life that you deserve.
There are many people, government agencies, and outside contractors who often accept responsibility for the well-being of a foster child. When a foster parent negligently causes harm to a child, the foster parent can be personally responsible, and usually there are one or more liability insurance policies available to defend the foster parent and protect them financially, including foster care liability insurance policies paid for by the department of social services. The South Carolina Department of Social Services or its employees may also be liable, and a judgment against DSS or its employees will be satisfied by the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund. Often, DSS will outsource various licensing, training, and supervisory functions to outside contractors, which may be liable in the event of foster care abuse. Those outside contractors and their employees may also be liable for the harm caused by foster care abuse. Or sometimes law enforcement may be liable for failure to protect a foster child from foster care abuse.
Talking about foster care abuse can be hard, and it’s key that you work with a lawyer who understands the delicate nature of foster abuse cases. At White Davis & White, our foster care abuse lawyer is here to guide you through the process of fighting for what you deserve after suffering from abuse and/or neglect during the time you were in foster care.
Moving forward after abuse can be challenging, and you deserve to work with a foster care lawyer who will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. At White Davis & White, we know what it takes to stand up to perpetrators of abuse, and we’ll be with you every step of the way as we work together to build a case to fight for justice. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation with a member of our team.
Confidential six figure settlement in case in which our client’s daughter was abused by a nurse while in foster care.
Lead WDW Lawyer on the Case: Kyle J. White
*Civil & criminal consultations are free, the charge for family court consultations varies by attorney.