At a time when so many children are neglected and abused,
it's comforting to know there are foster and adoptive parents who are
willing to make a difference in these children's lives, while these same
children in an attempt to protect themselves, begin the process that often
ends in the system causing irreparable damage to innocent families.
Our organization is concerned with the problem of child
abuse and neglect allegations which are made against foster and adoptive
families throughout the country.
Under no circumstances do we condone child abuse/neglect
in any form. However, we recognize there are circumstances which make
some foster and adoptive families especially vulnerable to reports of
abuse/neglect and susceptible to misjudgments. These circumstances are
- Children who have experienced the uncertainties
and insecurities of years of foster care, often with multiple moves,
have been damaged in ways which affect their behavior for years. Many
children who have suffered such damage have learned maladaptive
or anti-social coping behaviors. They are manipulative, unable to trust,
lack a sense of honesty and responsibility, and are deficient in many
areas of their development. They may suffer from a variety of disorders
which may include attachment disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder
or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, all of which has a symptom of making
false abuse allegations.
- Such children, due to their histories, typically
behave in ways which jeopardize the security and stability of the families
diligently striving to undo some of the damage of the past and to help
the children develop more appropriate and socially acceptable behaviors.
These children often lie and play on the responses of other adults who
do not view their behaviors in the context of the children's prior experiences.
Some children deliberately hurt those who offer help and try to destroy
close relationships. After a sequence of adult rejections, they cannot
accept that others care about or love them. It is not uncommon for the
children to make false reports of abuse/neglect in an effort to control
adult behavior or to deal with fears of close relationships.
- Foster and adoptive parents of emotionally disturbed
children are often held accountable for the childs actions. The
damage to these children took place before they entered the foster parents
home, but when this child reacts to a situation in ways which have been
learned from their past life experiences, it will be the foster parents
who will have to answer allegations of abuse.
- Foster and adoptive parents are held to a higher standard
of parenting skills. What is viewed as non-abusive in a birth family
home, may be considered abusive in the home of a foster or adoptive
parent, thus bringing statistics of abuse to a higher rate. Allowing
a foster child to fall asleep in a highchair during dinner has been
charged as child endangerment.
- Agency standards for investigations of alleged child
abuse/neglect are not uniform in practice nor necessarily of high quality.
Protective services workers may be untrained or inexperienced. Workers
may not be familiar with the complexities of the pathologies displayed
by the children and the stresses they bring to family living. The child's
psychological, medical and educational records may not be considered
in an investigation. Appropriate child management techniques and therapeutic
interventions may be viewed out of context by those not familiar with
Due to these factors, foster and adoptive parents can
be unfairly targeted and unduly stressed. When they should be receiving
support and assistance from their agencies, they are forced to expend
their energies on defending themselves in an attempt to prove the allegations
When a serious allegation is made, the other foster children
in the home will be removed. They are the innocent victims who will have
to endure yet another move in their lives. Documented research shows,
every move adds more trauma to an already fragile life and brings the
certainty of failure to that child.
We share a commitment to our children and a belief in
the value of family life. Above all, we seek the health and well-being of
all of our children. Therefore, we support the following:
- Agencies must support their families when an allegation
of abuse/neglect has been made unless there is obvious proof that the
allegation did occur. There is no law which prohibits them from doing
- Other children in the home should be taken to the agency
and interviewed by experienced workers. If they deny any abuse occurred
either to themselves or the accusing child, they may remain in the foster
home until the investigation is completed. The children must never be
removed from their homes in the middle of the night.
- The accused foster family must be immediately provided
with the policies and rules of the agency, including the private agency,
concerning investigations, such as in a packet of information which
would be beneficial to the family. This should include the Administrative
Code investigative procedures.
- Agencies must readily provide any and all documentation
which can assist the foster or adoptive family in their defense, including
interviews with any agency member who has had contact with the child
without the fear of breaking confidentiality rules.
- The child's psychological, medical and educational
records must be reviewed and testimony from knowledgeable therapists,
educators and medical resources must be included in an investigation.
- Investigation workers must have years of experience
and ongoing training when determining the outcome of an investigation.
They must be knowledgeable of the behaviors and disorders presented
by some foster and adoptive children.
- It is recommended that an allegation review board be
formed to investigate allegations, a panel outside of the scope of Children
Services, preferably a board made up of retired foster parents, police
officers, judges, school teachers, and attorneys.
- If an allegation is found unsubstantiated and the foster/adoptive
parents are willing to continue to provide foster care, the children
must be returned to their home. Documented research shows the more a
child is moved from home to home, the greater the chance of that child
failing in the foster care system.
- As U.S. citizens, our constitutional rights must be
upheld. We have the right to due process even with an administrative
hearing. We have the right to know what we are being accused of and
for an investigation to be done in a timely manner.
We are the victims of the adoptive and foster care system.
It is time to stop the devastation to innocent families which is occurring
daily across the country. Won't you join us in our cause?
* Excerpts have been taken from the Position Statement of
the "New York State Citizens' Coalition
for Children" and are noted in italics.
The unexpected can happen.
Protect yourself and your family with a
Legal Solutions Plan
You need an attorney on your side!
None of us expects our house to burn down, and we cross our fingers
we wont be burglarized. While not expecting allegations of abuse
to children to be made against them, it is vitally important that foster
parents acknowledge the possibility.
Gordon Evans, National Foster Parent Association
Call Foster Parents Legal Solutions for more information at 1-877-FPA-CHILD