UNITED STATES NEWS

Texas fined $100,000 per day for failing to act on foster care abuse allegations

Apr 16, 2024, 8:40 AM

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A federal judge is fining Texas $100,000 per day for routinely neglecting to adequately investigate allegations of abuse and neglect raised by children in the state’s struggling foster care system.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack in Corpus Christi ruled Monday that the Texas Health and Human Services agency has shown contempt of her orders to fix the way the state investigates complaints by children in its care.

This is the third such contempt finding in a case that began with a 2011 lawsuit over foster care conditions at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the child welfare arm of HHS.

In a 427-page ruling, the judge cited a “continued recalcitrance” by the agency’s Provider Investigations unit to conduct thorough, accurate and timely probes of allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“As demonstrated by the stories of the children and PI’s failure to take any action to remedy the egregious flaws identified by the Monitors, PI represents a significant, systemic failure that increases the risk of serious harm,” the judge wrote.

Texas has about 9,000 children in permanent state custody for factors that include the loss of caregivers, abuse at home or health needs that parents alone can’t meet.

“The judge’s ruling is measured but urgent, given the shocking evidence,” said attorney Paul Yetter, representing the foster children in the lawsuit. “Innocent children are suffering every day. After all these years, when will state leadership get serious about fixing this disaster?”

Officials at the DFPS declined comment. A spokesperson at HHS said the agency, led by Commissioner Cecile E. Young, was reviewing the order.

Lawyers for the state have previously said that while there is always room for improvement, state officials have sufficiently complied with the court’s remedial orders.

The state has also argued that the court monitors haven’t reviewed a large enough sample size of children to make sweeping conclusions.

The fines levied against Texas will be lifted when the state can demonstrate that its investigations are in compliance. A hearing is set for late June.

Since 2019, court-appointed monitors have released periodic reports on DFPS progress toward eliminating threats to the foster children’s safety.

A January report cited progress in staff training, but continued weaknesses in responding to investigations into abuse and neglect allegations, including those made by children. Monitors also said children aren’t told how to report sexual abuse and the state hasn’t proved that it has properly trained its caseworkers to identify potential victims.

In one case, plaintiffs say, a girl was left in the same residential facility for a year while 12 separate investigations piled up around allegations that she had been raped by a worker there. The girl remained exposed to that worker until she was “dumped in an emergency room, alone, with her jaw broken in two places,” the judge said. The facility was eventually shut down by the state.

United States News

Associated Press

Investigators return to Long Island home of Gilgo Beach serial killing suspect

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Investigators returned Monday to the home of a New York architect charged in a string of slayings known as the Gilgo Beach killings. State and county police vehicles were seen outside Rex Heuermann’s single-family home in Massapequa Park on Long Island before 9 a.m. Spokespersons for the New York State […]

10 minutes ago

Associated Press

Four people killed in a house explosion in southwestern Missouri

GOODHOPE, Mo. (AP) — Four people in rural Missouri died when an explosion that could be heard 10 miles (6.2 kilometers) away occurred at a house. The explosion happened Saturday night near the unincorporated town of Goodhope. Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase said the home was undergoing renovations and a propane leak was found. The […]

21 minutes ago

Associated Press

Shooting injures 2 at Missouri high school graduation ceremony

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Two people were injured when gunfire broke out during a high school graduation commencement in Missouri, causing hundreds of people to scatter and forcing the ceremony to be postponed. The shooting happened around 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Cape Girardeau, a city of 40,000 residents about 115 miles (185 km) south […]

35 minutes ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Cohen questioned about calls with Trump, activities in weeks before Daniels payment

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s hush money trial has entered its final stretch as the prosecution’s star witness Michael Cohen returned to the stand Monday. In his testimony last week, Cohen placed the former president directly at the center of the alleged scheme to stifle negative stories to fend off damage to his White […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street modestly higher before the bell with Dow still treading above 40,000

Wall Street pointed toward modest gains early Monday, keeping markets around record levels after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 40,000 for the first time ever last week. Markets did appear to be shaken by news of the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials who died in a helicopter crash in […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Michael Cohen faces more grilling as Trump’s hush money trial enters its final stretch

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s hush money trial is heading into the final stretch, with prosecutors’ last and star witness back on the stand Monday for more grilling before the former president’s lawyers get their chance to put on a case. The landmark trial will kick back off in Manhattan with more defense cross-examination […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Texas fined $100,000 per day for failing to act on foster care abuse allegations