HIS 303: The American Constitution
Violations of Foster Children Rights and Benefits
April 4, 2011
Problems with the foster care seem to be across the board. But what it comes down to is what rights are being violated and what benefits are these children being left without.
Problems with the foster care seem to be across the board. Here are a few examples to make the point. In Louisiana, 21% of abuse cases come from children in foster homes. Also in Louisiana, after extensive review, it was found out that hundreds of foster children were shipped out to live in foster homes in Texas. In 1981, 57% of children placed in the Missouri foster care system were at high risk for abuse or neglect. In 1987, a follow-up was done in Missouri and found that 25% of children placed in the foster care system had indeed been abused or neglected. In Kentucky, it was found that only 55% of foster children had the mandated legal case plans. This is not anything new either. This has been going on for several decades and seems to be nationwide (A Critical Look at the Foster Care System: How Widespread is the Problem?, 1996-2005). But what it comes down to is what rights are being violated and what benefits are these children being left without.
A Foster Child’s Bill of Rights was actually written in 1973 and reaffirmed in 1983. It gives of course ten rights that foster children have including the right to safety, the right to adequate medical care, to receive proper education, the right to an attorney, and the right to make his own decisions and have visitation with the biological parents if he chooses (Foster Child Bill of Rights, 2011).
When children are handed over to the state, people automatically assume that they are going to be well taken care of in the hands of the Federal and State government. However, in many cases the children’s constitutional rights are violated (Selph, 1988). The two main Amendments that are violated when it comes to children are the First and Fourteenth Amendments. There have been cases that have discussed what rights are violated in foster children cases such as Taylor v. Ledbetter and Kenny A. v. Perdue. Two of the most questionable rights in foster children have been the right to legal counsel and the right to sibling access. Kenny A. v. Perdue is a recent case that focuses on whether it is unconstitutional or not to not offer children being admitted into foster care the right to an attorney. Foster children from two Georgia counties brought in a claim stating that the two counties had failed to provide adequate and effective legal counsel (Elias-Perciful, 2010). What these foster children were most concerned about was that some of their liberties were taken away when they were not provided legal counseling such as the child’s “safety, health, and well-being, as well as an interest in maintaining the integrity of the family unit and in having a relationship with his or her biological parents” (Elias-Perciful, 2010). The court responded by stating that Judges, unlike child advocate attorneys, cannot investigate themselves but must rely on word of mouth from the child, attorney, parents, or foster parents. The court also stated that they must consider what providing adequate counsel entails. They are worried about the fiscal or administrative burden that the right to an appointed attorney may require (Elias-Perciful, 2010). The plaintiffs (foster children) provided evidence that their attorneys did not investigate as they should have and the court responded that the right to an appointed counsel requires effective counsel that does their job right (Elias-Perciful, 2010). Another example of ineffective attorneys is In the Matter of Jamie T.T. 191 A.D.2d 132 in 1993. Jamie was a 13 year old girl who was sexually abused by her adoptive father. The court appointed an attorney for her but the court found the attorney not doing...