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Judge Fines Texas HHSC $100 Per Day For Failing To Address Foster Children Abuse

A federal judge has ordered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to pay $100,000 a day in fines for failing to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect of foster children in state custody.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack said Texas HHS Commissioner Cecile E. Young had failed to comply with previous court orders, finding the agency in contempt of her orders to properly investigate children’s complaints.

“Delays in completing investigations can create risk of harm for children because alleged perpetrators might remain free to continue causing harm to children until the investigation is finally completed,” Jack wrote in her order.

The fines against Texas could be lifted if the state can demonstrate that it is able to properly investigate cases of child abuse and neglect.

The ruling comes nearly five months after last December’s hearing, and it’s the third time the state has been found in contempt of court since 2011, when the lawsuit over foster care conditions was first filed.

Jack first ruled against the state’s foster care system in 2015, and has largely criticized the state for failing to comply with her orders.

During the December court hearing, witnesses spoke about various cases and the poor quality of investigations into complaints of sexual abuse reported by children.

According to the Texas Tribune, plaintiffs said one girl stayed in the same residential facility for over a year while the state agency had 12 separate cases involving allegations that she was raped by a worker at the facility. The girl was left in the same facility with the same worker until she was “dumped in an emergency room, alone, with her jaw broken in two places,” Jack said

The facility was later shut down by the state.

Jack criticized that the investigation never substantiated the allegations and that the state agency does not require investigators to explain their findings.

Texas has failed to demonstrate that it has properly trained its caseworkers on how to identify potential victims of sexual abuse and children in state custody are not informed on how to report sexual abuse.

“Innocent children are suffering every day,” said Paul Yetter, attorney for the plaintiffs. “After all these years, when will state leadership get serious about fixing this disaster?”

Staff
Staff
Written by RA News staff.

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