Florida Foster Kids Left Hungry, Hurt, and Alone Inside a Broken System

chalk writing on the sidewalk saying "stop child abuse"

Posted on July 22, 2021

Florida’s foster care system is managed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and is meant to protect a child from undue harm in their present living situation. However, reports indicate thousands of alleged instances of starvation, abuse, or outright neglect against foster kids, while caregivers are rarely punished. 

 

Today, we want to bring awareness to abuse within the foster system and stand in solidarity for victims. Please be warned, the following is raw, real, and unsettling as we see far too many instances of deadbeat foster parents subjecting the children under their care to horrific situations. From a system meant to protect, too many children have found themselves in worse conditions than the homes they were taken away from to begin with. 

Too Many Children, Too Few Foster Homes

In 2014, child welfare laws in the State of Florida were changed to make it easier for the State to remove children from unsafe parents or guardians. Intended to help, the new law led to an increase in the number of foster children under state care but failed to provide adequate resources to safely house them all. As a result, children were placed with foster parents who may have several discipline records and were in danger of losing their license, in homes that were terribly overcrowded, or even with foster parents who later faced charges for sexual assault and torture. 

 

Florida makes public reports every year about the number of cases of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, but many cases don’t meet their narrow definition and thus fall under “referrals”. These usually mean there’s a noted violation of the foster parents’ licensing criteria which may only prompt limited administrative review or no action whatsoever. 

 

In a report published by USA Today, the number of these foster care referrals in Florida rose by nearly 60% from 2015 to 2020. The reports of abuse against children in foster care are simply heinous: 

 

  • Foster parents are never allowed to use corporal punishment against the child and yet allegations abound for spankings, slapping, pinching, or shaking kids. 

 

  • Foster parents are supposed to provide food, sanitary living conditions, clothing, and other necessities, and again, reports coming into the Florida Abuse Hotline from concerned school workers, neighbors, and others point to a widespread issue of children under state care not receiving many of these basic necessities. 

 

  • Sexual abuse, including sexual activity with a child, fondling, and other deviant behavior against foster children were also recorded. Violating childrens’ personal space by observing them showering or changing clothes was reported in dozens of instances. 

 

The DCF pays foster parents to provide a safe environment for children. Even with these payments, there were hundreds of reports of neglect of children. Not attending to a child’s basic needs is neglect and can mean they don’t have food, shelter, supervision, and/or access to medical care. From being locked in dark rooms for minor behavioral issues, to padlocking the refrigerator, many foster children simply do not have a safe place to call home.

 

Abuse Comes in Many Forms

Abuse usually makes most people think physical harm has been done to a child, but there are many other forms which can have just as much, if not more, of a detrimental effect on the child. Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and outright neglect have all been reported for kids in the foster system. Sadly, many forms of abuse occur simultaneously. 

 

Ending the absolutely horrific pattern of abuse in Florida’s foster system is something all Floridians can help with. Children who are in foster care have usually faced forms of abuse already. To experience continued abuse in their foster home is unimaginable. 

 

Signs of child abuse to watch out for can include:

 

  • Emotional withdrawal from activities and friends.
  • Mood swings or extreme changes in behavior.
  • Observed lack of supervision.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Self-harm, talks of suicide, or even attempts to end their life.

 

If you see any of these, contact the authorities. For victims of abuse, our team will use every resource at our disposal to seek help for the child. Contact us anytime of the day or night. Remember that not every sign of abuse means an actual abuse occurred, but ignoring red flags can have dire consequences. Please, if you see something, say something.

 

Suspect Foster Child Abuse? Talk to an Attorney Now.

At Farah and Farah, “here for you, here for good” isn’t a slogan, it’s actually what we stand for. We are here to help victims. Children experiencing the horrors of abuse every single day is something none of us should tolerate. If you are in a situation where you notice abuse, please report it. If you experience any form of child abuse, a civil case may be possible with compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, and more. Contact Farah & Farah for a free consultation regarding your case. You won’t have to pay a cent unless your case is successful.