Health Impact News Editor Comments
The Associated Press and many other media outlets today (February 3, 2015) have announced that a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the directors of the Arizona Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Health Services by ten foster children in Arizona.
Some excerpts from today’s breaking news:
Arizona foster kids’ treatment ‘shocks the conscience,’ lawsuit says
Arizona’s treatment of foster children is so bad it actually puts kids at risk of greater harm, says a federal class-action lawsuit filed today against the directors of the Arizona Department of Child Safety and the Department of Health Services.
Ten foster children in Pima and Maricopa counties are plaintiffs in the suit, which is packed with details of Arizona children in state custody experiencing a dizzying number of placements, separation from siblings, deterioration in psychological health, and untreated physical and mental health problems.
The lawsuit, which names as plaintiffs 10 foster children ages 3 to 14, said the agencies failed to address ongoing failures. The suit also accuses the state of a “widespread failure to engage in basic child welfare practices aimed at maintaining family relationships.” That includes placing siblings together, trial reunifications with parents, adequate visitation between children and biological families, and having caseworkers visit parents to work toward reunification.
“Arizona officials have long been aware of these deficiencies and harms,” the suit says.
Arizona State Agencies Named in Federal Class Action for Their Dangerous, Severely Deficient Foster Care System
Even as Arizona has taken steps to reduce the enormous backlog of reports that children have been maltreated in their own homes, it has disregarded other destructive practices that expose abused and neglected children to “further physical and emotional harm and unreasonable risk of harm while in the State’s care,” according to a federal class-action lawsuit that 10 plaintiff children filed today on behalf of the more than 16,000 children in state foster care.
The suit, which names Charles Flanagan, director of the Department of Child Safety (DCS), and William Humble, director of the Department of Health Services (DHS) as defendants, alleges a severe shortage of health care services, an acute lack of foster homes, a failure to preserve family ties once children are in foster care, and a failure to conduct timely investigations into reports that children have been maltreated while in state care. The plaintiffs, who filed the suit in the Phoenix Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, are being represented by the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Phoenix law firm Coppersmith Brockelman PLC and national advocacy organization Children’s Rights.
Finally, Arizona’s foster children take a stand
Finally, the foster children of this state are standing up for themselves.
Or more specifically, a pair of law firms and a national advocacy group are standing up for them.
On Tuesday, they filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Arizona, contending that the Departments of Child Safety and Health Services are abusing already-traumatized kids.
The lawsuit, which includes 10 children as plaintiffs, paints an alarming picture of an overwhelmed system that is seizing far more children than it can properly care for. The result is hurting the very children the state is sworn to protect.
“What you are seeing in the complaint and in the stories of these children is something that’s been going on for a really long time,” Anne Ronan, of Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, told me. “It’s just gotten exponentially worse with the 46 percent increase in kids removed.”
Actually, from March 2010 to September 2014, the number of children in foster care grew a jaw dropping 66 percent, according to state records.
Stories from Parents in Arizona Who Claim their Children were Medically Kidnapped and put into Foster Care:
More stories on Arizona:
The Arizona 5: A Family of 5 Children Who Were Taken into Custody for the use of Biomedical Treatment for their Autism
Mother, interrupted: CPS accused her of everything from neglect to excessive care, never proved anything, and took her daughter anyway
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