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Overview of Malpractice Actions Against Child Welfare Agencies or Caseworkers

There are major problems with respect to the way in which child welfare agencies and caseworkers operate in the child welfare system. The agency or caseworker may neglect the child, not provide adequate avenues for the child, or may even in extreme cases lose the child in the welfare system. There has been a large increase of malpractice actions filed by children and their parents against both agencies and caseworkers. Some of the following areas in which one may file a malpractice action include:

  • Inadequate protection of children.
  • Violation of parental rights.
  • Inadequate or inappropriate foster care services.
  • Transference from the foster care system.

Agency or Caseworker's Response to a Malpractice Action

Often times the agency or caseworker will file a motion to dismiss the child's or parent's (plaintiff) malpractice action. In determining whether to grant the motion, the trial court should assume that the plaintiff can prove the allegations that have been made, although they may not be able to prove the allegations.

Damages and Liability

If the agency or the caseworker is found liable for malpractice the child or parent may be awarded monetary damages. The agency may also be fined. Additionally, if the state requires that the caseworker be licensed, the caseworker's license may even be suspended or revoked depending upon the severity of malpractice.

The agency or caseworker may be criminally liable, civilly liable, or both. If criminal liability is involved the agency may be prevented from continuing its operations. If criminal liability is involved with respect to the caseworker, the caseworker may be fined, have her license revoked or suspended if one is required, or may be sentenced to serve time in jail or to participate in community service.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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