US Senate Probing Private Foster Care Agencies

April 29, 2015

The US senate has recently launched an investigation into private foster care agencies. This investigation is long overdue and follows recent media attention into violent deaths and child sex abuse in foster homes approved and supervised by National Mentor Holdings, a for-profit foster care agency.  The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange and is paid millions of dollars by state and local governments.  Reports uncovered that a National Mentor foster father molested his foster sons for 10 decades while the agency was responsible for monitoring the home.  In another tragic case, a National Mentor foster mother murdered her two year-old foster daughter.

The Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to all governors to examine how the foster care system has been outsourced to private for-profit companies and charitable organizations.  The letter requests States to identify all private foster care providers, state inspection and accreditation practices, financial information and child abuse rates.

In Pennsylvania, under the Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 6301, et, seq., a county agency may contract with a private entity to provide foster care services to children in the foster care system.  Most counties in Pennsylvania outsource the majority of foster care cases to private agencies.  The private agency is then responsible for recruiting, training, approving and supervising the foster care parents.

In the numerous cases I have handled on behalf of children who have been molested and abused in foster care, the foster care agency’s negligence clearly contributed and was substantial factor in bringing about harm to the child.  All too often children have been sexually or physically assaulted after clear warning signs that the foster care agency chose to ignore.  The abuse was predictable and preventable by the foster care agency.

The US Senate’s investigation will hopefully help bring transparency and accountability to this unassuming and profitable industry that affects the lives of the almost four hundred thousand children who are in foster care.