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Seattle Foster Home and DSHS Abuse Attorneys

When a child is unable to live with their parents, it is often necessary for the State of Washington to place that child in foster care. Foster parents may or may not be related to the child. But all foster parents must be licensed by the state’s Department of Children, Youth & Families. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is also responsible for administering the foster care system as a whole.

Unfortunately, these agencies often fail the children they are sworn to serve. Far too many children in foster care suffer from abuse or neglect. If you or someone that you love has been a victim of such abuse, it is important to take legal action. The experienced lawyers at the Emerald Law Group can represent you in pursuing a claim for compensation against the state and its agencies.

Washington Officials Have a Duty to Protect All Foster Children

No system is perfect. That is certainly true when it comes to foster care. Indeed, there are many ways a child can suffer harm or abuse while in the system. Some of the more common scenarios we see with our clients include:

  • A foster child or their caseworker reports an act of abuse, but it is never acted upon by Washington State Child Protective Services (CPS). By law, CPS has a duty to look into any reports of abuse and remove a child immediately if there is corroborating evidence.
  • A person or persons are licensed as foster parents despite a past history of violence, substance or alcohol abuse, or severe mental illness that should have disqualified them.
  • Just because a foster parent is licensed, that does not mean an end to state oversight. State officials are required to conduct regular home visits and interview children in foster care to identify potential signs of abuse.

In short, it is not enough for the state to simply hand a child off to a foster home and be done with the matter. The state retains an ongoing duty to protect the child, which includes being proactive when it comes to identifying and remedying potential abuse. If DSHS or other state officials are negligent in this regard, the foster child or their legal guardian can pursue legal action to recover monetary damages.

Contact Emerald Law Today

Suing the state for foster care abuse is not as simple as filing a normal personal injury lawsuit. In Washington, there are special rules governing claims against the state, its agencies and employees. Before going to court you must first submit a verified claim form to the state. This provides the state with a 60-day period to review your allegations and make a settlement offer. After the 60-day period expires–or if the claimant rejects a proposed settlement–only then a lawsuit may be filed.

In most cases, there is a three-year deadline to take legal action for wrongs committed by state officials. But there are also separate rules governing certain types of abuse claims involving children that can extend this deadline. A qualified Seattle foster home/DSHS lawyer can provide you with further advice and information. Contact the Emerald Law Group today to schedule an initial consultation.

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