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"Our organization is concerned with the problem of child abuse and neglect allegations which are made against foster and adoptive families throughout the country."

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 as follows:

  • 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 child’s actions. The damage to these children took place before they entered the foster parent’s 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 their purposes.

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 are false.

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 so.
  • 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.

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