Abuse by foster carers
When children are taken into care, either under a Court Order or on a voluntary basis, they may be placed in foster care with foster parents who are appointed by the Local Authority (council for the area) or a private foster organisation. Foster parents may be unknown to the child or they could be family members or family friends who have been approved as foster carers.
Fostering placements can be short term or long term, and sometimes children are moved between different fostering placements. Often children going into fostering may be dealing with problems from their home environment such as drink, drugs, neglect, mental health issues, abuse of a physical or sexual nature, or sometimes the death of one or both parents.
Foster carers are supposed to ensure that vulnerable children are provided with a stable family life if they are unable to live with their parents. Unfortunately, sometimes foster homes are not the loving setting that they should be. In some cases already vulnerable foster children can experience sexual, physical or emotional abuse, neglect and exploitation. The effects of poor foster care can be serious and long-term. Often children may feel the abuse is somehow their fault. Sometimes children may not understand that what is happening to them is even abuse at the time.
The psychological impact can sometimes stay hidden only to be triggered by something in adulthood. Whilst compensation cannot remove these problems, it can help with the cost of therapeutic treatment. Sometimes compensation can mean a sense of closure and acceptance is achieved from the difficulties experienced in the past.
Our specialist solicitors at Verisona Law can help you make a claim if you were abused. Contact our caring team for guidance and advice on the options available to you. We act for most clients on a no win no fee basis, and we can also advise you about making a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
Making a claim for abuse by a foster carer
If a foster carer committed the abuse, it is possible to make a claim against the individual foster carer involved. The better course of action is potentially to look at a claim against the local authority responsible for selection and monitoring of the foster carer or against the private fostering organisation covering the foster carers, as they are more likely to be insured or have funds to pay claims. Identifying the effective ‘employer’ of the foster carer will be important.
Our experienced team are used to looking closely at the relationship between the abuser and the Defendant and between the abuser and the abuse itself. We can advise on the best course of action for bringing your claim.
On 18th October 2017, the Supreme Court gave a much-awaited judgement in the case of Armes (NA) -v- Nottinghamshire County Council finding that local authorities are vicariously liable for the actions of foster parents, including abuse on foster children.
The Justices found:
- the local authority carries out the recruitment, selection and training of foster parents, pays their expenses and supervises the fostering.
- A local authority exercises powers of approval, inspection, supervision, and removal over foster carers, therefore exercising a significant degree of control over the foster parents and how they perform their care duties.
- The local authority’s placement of a child in the care of foster parents creates a relationship of authority and trust between the foster parents and child. Through its own choice of placement, the local authority renders a child particularly at risk to abuse, and it is therefore fair that the local authority should compensate that child should the risk materialise.
- Most foster parents have insufficient means to make a substantial compensation payment, whilst local authorities can more easily compensate victims of abuse.
Are there time restrictions on making a claim?
Technically, you have until the age of 21 to issue a claim at court arising from abuse, but if you are older than 21 and you have suffered abuse it may still be possible to succeed with the claim. The courts understand that there are many reasons why victims of abuse may not be able to come forward sooner and can in some circumstances extent the time limit for bringing a claim.
Verisona Law will support you in this type of claim and are experienced at collecting evidence to show the courts exactly why the claim could not be made sooner and why it should be allowed outside the usual time limit.
Verisona Law – understanding, support & assistance
We have assisted many child abuse victims to win their cases. We understand how hard it can be to talk about the abuse, but we are here to support you at your own pace and are sensitive to your needs, both in terms of trying to achieve rehabilitation and therapy, at the same time as seeking justice and closure.
We represented ROX who suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of her foster carer for the period of one month in 1997, and for which criminal convictions against the foster carer were secured in 2012. In fact this claim was also combined with a serious claim for negligence against the local authority social services department for failure to remove ROX from severe sexual abuse being perpetrated by her biological mother and other numerous men she was bringing to the family home. As a result of the abuse ROX developed severe mental health problems including PTSD, as well as a linked excessive sweating condition & partially caused incontinence condition. Fortunately for ROX she had managed to do well for herself in terms of career progression having eventually received loving care and support from her adoptive parents. We secured £60,000 compensation, including compensation to help her obtain the treatment she needed.