The State of New Jersey has settled a heartbreaking case with a Pennsylvania family whose adopted daughter suffered physical and sexual abuse while under the care of New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The state will pay the family $5 million in damages, to help cover the cost of the girl’s care.
The child, identified only as S.A., is now 13, and living with her adopted family. When she was only two, her mother abandoned her and the DYFS gave her to her biological father, apparently without proper vetting beforehand. She was under the care of DYFS from 1999 to 2006.
Three different caseworkers at the state’s Division of Youth and Family Services could have stopped the abuse several times, attorney David Mazie contends, but none did. …
She was brought to the emergency room twice, and a neighbor reported she had burns on her body and a belt mark on her chest, the attorney said. She was removed when the father’s girlfriend reported she was bound, beaten and hanging from a hook in the wall, he added.
Mazie said after she was removed from the home, doctors recommended therapy for post traumatic stress disorder. It took DYFS two years to provide it, and escalated the girl’s anxiety by allowing visits with her father, he said. –nj.com
Although a caseworker was supposed to visit the girl and her father once a month, several months went by with no visit or check-in from anyone. DYFS also completely neglected other court-ordered requirements such as daycare for the girl.
This case represents one of the largest settlements DYFS has ever paid for a single child—the largest being $12.5 million paid to four brothers who were allowed to nearly starve to death in a foster home in Collingswood.
Although DYFS has begun a billion dollar reform effort and overhaul since the period of time when the abuse and neglect in this case took place, Mazie called the agency still “damaged from top to bottom.” Notably, some of the case workers named in this case still work for the agency.