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Foster care should provide a safe and nurturing environment for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. However, in some tragic cases, children in foster care may experience further abuse at the hands of their foster parents or caregivers. This betrayal of trust can leave lasting emotional scars and create a sense of hopelessness for the victims. It is crucial for those who have suffered abuse in foster care to understand that they have legal options and that there are dedicated advocates ready to fight for their rights.

Types of Foster Care Abuse

Foster care abuse can take many forms, including:

Some signs of abuse may include unexplained injuries, changes in behavior, depression, or a reluctance to return to the foster home.

Neglect can manifest as malnutrition, poor hygiene, lack of proper medical care, or inadequate supervision. Recognizing these signs and acting is essential to protect the child’s well-being.

Florida’s Laws Protecting Foster Children

In Florida, various state laws and regulations protect foster children. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is responsible for investigating reports of abuse and ensuring that foster homes meet safety standards.

Florida Statute 39.201 mandates that any person who suspects child abuse, neglect, or abandonment must report it to the DCF’s abuse hotline. Additionally, Florida Statute 39.302 requires the DCF to initiate an investigation within 24 hours of receiving a report of abuse.

Are You a Victim of Foster Care Abuse in Florida? Know Your Rights

Victims of foster care abuse have the right to seek justice and compensation for the harm they have suffered. In Florida, there are several legal avenues available:

Civil Lawsuits: Victims can file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and the agencies responsible for placing them in the abusive foster home. These lawsuits can seek damages for medical expenses, therapy costs, pain and suffering, and other related expenses. It is important to note that while the State of Florida has sovereign immunity limiting the amount it can be forced to pay to $200,000 under Fla. Stat. § 768.28, Florida’s legislature has enacted Fla. Stat. §409.993, which allows foster care contractors and subcontractors to be held fully accountable when their culpable negligence directly causes harm to children. This law aims to provide an avenue for full and fair monetary relief for victims of abuse.

Criminal Charges: In cases of severe abuse, criminal charges may be filed against the perpetrators. Victims can work with law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure that their abusers face appropriate consequences in the criminal justice system.

Negligence Claims: If the DCF, lead agencies, or subcontractors involved in the foster care system failed to screen foster parents properly, monitor placements, or investigate reports of abuse, they may be liable for negligence. The purpose of outsourcing foster care services to these contractors is to increase the safety, security, and stability of children under the state’s responsibility, and they are required to maintain liability insurance to secure a safe environment for foster children. 

How an Attorney Can Help

Navigating the legal system can be daunting, especially for those who have experienced the trauma of foster care abuse. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the process. They can help victims understand their rights, gather evidence, and build a solid case to hold abusers and negligent parties accountable. An attorney can also advocate for the victim’s best interests and work to secure the compensation they deserve.

How Lehrman Law Can Assist Victims of Foster Care Abuse

At Lehrman Law, we understand the devastating impact of foster care abuse and are committed to fighting for the rights of victims. Led by attorney Seth M. Lehrman, our team understands Florida’s laws protecting foster children and has a long track record of success in handling these complex cases. We approach each case with compassion, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of justice.

Contact a Florida Sexual Abuse Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has suffered foster care abuse in Florida, know that you are not alone. Contact Lehrman Law today to schedule a confidential consultation. We will listen to your story, explain your legal options, and work tirelessly to hold those responsible for your abuse accountable. Let us fight for the justice and compensation you deserve and help you take the first steps toward healing and recovery.