The cost of a nightmare

from: palmbeachpost.com

Palm Beach Post Editorial
February 22, 2009

In 2007, the state agreed to pay a former Boynton Beach couple $10 million for failing to tell them of the horrific abuse their three adopted children had suffered in state care.

Because the system that compensates victims of state negligence is itself negligent, the adoptive parents are still waiting for the money that will pay for their sons' mental-health treatment. The brothers were raped, beaten and caged in a chicken coop while in foster care. Since being adopted in 1998 - all are still under 18 - they have molested classmates and each other, attempted suicide, and terrorized their adoptive parents, threatening at one point to kill their adoptive mother. The middle child gave the adoptive mother a drink that he had poisoned with contaminated chicken blood.

Last year, legislators failed to act on a bill that would have given the couple $9.5''million, the balance owed after a payment of $500,000, the maximum without approval from the Legislature. This year, there's also no certainty.

State Rep. Carl Domino, R-Jupiter, has pulled the claims bill he sponsored that would authorize the state to pay the couple. Rep. Domino said he was advised that because of the state's budget problems no such bills obligating the state through general revenue would get heard. House members get to file only six bills a year, and he said that he doesn't want to file one that might be doomed from the start. Still, he has until March 2, the day before the new session begins, to refile the bill.

State Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, has sponsored companion legislation. An aide said Friday that Sen. Pruitt does not plan to withdraw the bill. Senators can file unlimited bills, and should the Senate approve payment to the couple - and find a source of money - the House, Rep. Domino said, could find a way to approve it also.

Given what this man and woman went through and are going through, however, Rep. Domino should refile the claims bill or find another legislator who will do so. Payment of the money could be arranged so that next year's budget doesn't take a big hit. "I hope it's heard," Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said of the bill. "This case was horrific."

Mr. Sheldon said the state has gotten the boys into therapeutic care, and he believes that the couple might accept structured payments over 10 years. "I'm optimistic that the Legislature will step up to the plate."

Most of the 120 House members and 40 senators are parents. No one can understand what the state put these adoptive parents through, but the legislators can imagine how they would have reacted. Then they can ask themselves how long they would be content to wait for the Legislature to act.

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As the politicians debate and deliberate...

more and more families are going to be hurt and devastated by the after-math caused by poor (horrific) "family services".

The brothers were raped, beaten and caged in a chicken coop while in foster care. Since being adopted in 1998 - all are still under 18 - they have molested classmates and each other, attempted suicide, and terrorized their adoptive parents, threatening at one point to kill their adoptive mother.

I wish such a description about the type of care provided through foster services, and the subsequent consequences these actions/inactions bring, surprised and shocked me.  The bitter irony... theoretically,  private foster care is supposed to put an end to the many abuses (and problems) caused by overcrowded "unsafe  instiutions" like children's homes and orphanages.  [Private foster care is supposed to be safer and better for the child in-care, than life in an institution.]  In many cases, it all (neglect, abuse, overcrowding, and oversight) reads the same to me.

 

Pound Pup Legacy