How Can Washington State Agencies Can Be Liable for Foster Care Abuse or Neglect?

When children or vulnerable adults are abused or neglected while in foster care, it’s important to find out how and why such abuse or neglect occurred.  In addition to the caretakers directly causing abuse, the State of Washington, through the actions or inaction of DSHS and CPS, may also be responsible for abuse or neglect having taken place if they were negligent in some respect.  Negligence can arise out of conduct including:

  • Not properly screening foster parent applicants.

The state pays foster parents to care for children.  While many foster parents serve as foster parents because they truly care about making the lives of children better, some foster parents view fostering solely as an opportunity to increase personal income.  These individuals not only may not have the best of intentions, they may also have backgrounds indicating that they are not suitable to care for children.  In particular, these people may have substance abuse problems, past histories of violence or sexual abuse, or  mental illness.

 When state agencies fail to conduct proper background checks and place children with those who never should have been accepted as foster parents and abuse occurs, the State of Washington may be liable for the injuries suffered.

  • Failure to properly conduct ongoing monitoring. 

Foster care agencies cannot simply place a child in foster care and hope for the best. They must properly follow up on an ongoing basis to ensure that the child is in a safe environment and is receiving proper care.  Overloaded case workers may fail to properly follow-up or they may negligently fail to detect signs of abuse or neglect.

When either of these situations happens and children are not removed from a potentially abusive foster care situation, the State of Washington may be liable for the abuse and neglect that should not have occurred if the state had acted appropriately.

  • Failure to adequately investigate claims of abuse or neglect.

A claim of child abuse or neglect should always be given high priority.  In Washington, in addition to law enforcement, Child Protective Services (CPS) has the primary responsibility of investigating suspected abuse.  If there is any credible evidence to suggest abuse or neglect, children should be removed from the potentially dangerous foster home environment and placed in alternative care.  When abuse and neglect claims are not adequately investigated and subsequent abuse or neglect occurs, the State of Washington, may be legally liable for the abuse and neglect that result following the time that action should have been taken.

Our Firm Represents the Rights and Welfare of Children and Vulnerable Adults in Foster Homes Against the State of Washington

We have long represented children against the State of Washington and its agencies responsible for foster care.  We have seen horrific situations of abuse that never should have happened due to negligent conduct by state agencies.  Sadly, unless the state and its agencies are held accountable for their negligence, abuse and neglect may continue.

There is No Fee for Us Unless We Recover

If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected in foster care, please call us.  If your loved one is still in foster care where the abuse or neglect transpired, a report should also be immediately made with the local police department and Child Protective Services.

Once we learn about your situation or that of your loved one, we can explain how we will work tenaciously in order to obtain a full recovery against the State of Washington and any other responsible parties for every penny of damages due to their negligent actions.

Please call us at 206-388-0333 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your convenience.  

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