Friday, July 11, 2014

Foster Children - At-Risk of Abuse by Foster Parents

There are many heart-warming stories about foster parents who selflessly open their homes to foster children. Unfortunately, one foster mom was jailed for abusing her foster child.

Lynn Smith, foster mother to five youths, was arrested because of a video that shows her pushing the head of one of her foster kids into the toilet. Police had been alerted to this and other alleged abuses by an anonymous tipster who wrote:

She abuses them daily and nobody will do nothing, she withholds food from them and makes them stay in rooms or outside all day. Y’all been there already and the kids are still being abused. This is torture and she needs to be prosecuted.”

Smith had been in jail since June 17 because of a separate incident where she was allegedly shoplifting. She's now out on bail, but  DFAC (Division of Family and Children Services) has removed all five foster kids, ranging in age from 2 to 10, from Smith's home.

You also have to wonder how long this abuse has been going on when the tipster writes, "She abuses them daily." Thank goodness that someone finally decided to take action to ensure the health and safety of these foster youths.

You might think that abusing a foster child is a crime since they are under the protection and care of the government, but you'd be wrong. According to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills:

"DFACs doesn’t allow corporal punishment on any of their foster kids, but that’s not a crime.”

I don't know about you, but last time I looked, forcing a child's head into the toilet didn't fall under any recognized category of punishment for children. This is the type of action we see on TV when someone is interrogating a criminal or terrorist, not children. State agencies have an obligation to ensure that the foster youth under their care are able to live in a home without the fear of abuse: physical, mental or sexual

A proven solution is for agencies to invest more time and energy in locating family members of foster children so these kids can be placed with relatives that statistically result in better treatment and a happier, healthy child.

This time foster children were taken out of harm's way not because of the successful monitoring of their living environment by DFAC but because a caring adult saw an abuse and courageously took action. Let's hope that more people will be equally brave so that the next time, it's not a story about abuse but one of the death of a foster child. As a society, we can and must do better.

Do it for the children,

Richard Villasana

Richard Villasana
Find Families In Mexico

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