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Florida $4 Million Damages Paid to Former Foster Children a Step Toward Fixing the System

August 24th, 2009   No Comments   Abuse, Damage Claims, Foster Care

When the Associated Press reported that the state of Florida will pay more than $3 million to two foster children for not preventing them from abuse and starvation in their Hernando County home, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon termed the case “horrific.”

John Joseph Edwards Jr., 19, and his half-sister, 15, received $700,000 and  $3.275 million, respectively. Their foster parents, Lori and Arthur “Tommy” Allain, received 25 years in prison for child abuse and neglect in 2006. Not only were the kids put in a dangerous home, a DCF panel that investigated said countless child welfare workers missed or ignored signs of abuse and found they allowed it to escalate.

Putting foster kids in dangerous homes, with little follow-up, and then paying settlements when things go horribly wrong has become an expensive reality — one that Sheldon is trying to correct.

The AP reported that the DCF has settled dozens of such cases in the past several years as the agency attempts to “own up to the mistake.” Accelerating settlements also reduces the money spent on defending such actions. “When you sit on cases and delay and delay, that adds up costs,” Sheldon said in the AP article.

Sheldon is on the right path of getting the word out that inappropriately licensing hopes, ignoring the warnings signs and not protecting children is unacceptable to the DCF. He is also on the right track by settling cases quickly so children abused while in the system can the immediate help that they need.

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