Child Abused and Starved After Being Placed With Uncle

    This case involves the welfare of a child who was taken by Child Protective Services. During a hearing, the court removed the child, who was seven at the time, from his father’s custody, and placed him with his paternal uncle. Following the placement into his uncle’s care, Child Protective Services was contacted to provide level II services for the child. The child’s uncle, however, had a history of run-ins with the law. Over a decade earlier, he was imprisoned for possession of narcotics and following his release,  he was charged with assault on multiple occasions. After placing the child with his uncle, Child Protective Services arranged for him to receive behavior and health evaluations and arranged for appropriate interventions if necessary. Child Protective Services did not inform the court of the uncle’s criminal history, however, even though an investigation was required under state law. Throughout the time the child was in the care of his uncle, he was regularly abused. He was beaten, starved, and frequently forced to soil himself because his uncle did not allow him to use the restroom.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. What actions should have been taken to ensure that the child was placed in a safe environment?

    Expert Witness Response E-006433

    In child protective services cases appropriate measures need to be in place to ensure that the child is placed in a healthy and safe environment. These include a sociological and psychological evaluation of the child, an extensive review of the adult with whom the child will be living, regular “check-ins”, especially in the beginning, to ensure that the environment is appropriate and that the child is safe, and individual meetings with the guardian and the child on an annual basis. While all factors do not necessarily need to be present, the overarching goal is to understand the conditions that the child is placed in and the appropriateness of that setting for their development. Given the preliminary facts of this case, it appears that Child Protective Services was grossly negligent in failing to investigate the uncle’s past and in failing to report his previous criminal conduct to the court. Also, subsequent actions did not reveal the severely substandard conditions that the plaintiff was living in. While a full review of the case should reveal the extent that Child Protective Services deviated from the norm, it appears that they are liable.

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