Wednesday, September 21, 2011

County Commission approves $267,000 settlement in foster care lawsuit

By Joe Schoenmann
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 | 12:01 p.m.

Clark County will pay $267,000 to three children allegedly neglected and sexually abused while in foster care.

Steve Sisolak was the only commissioner to question the pre-trial settlement. He made sure wording was added to the payment to mandate as much counseling as needed for the three children, who were pre-teens during the time of the incident, even if that means cutting attorney fees.

"It's a small sum for what these kids went through," he said later. "These kids are really subjected to some horrors. It is a terrible shame."

Little information about the children or what happened to them was provided in county documentation. A case filed on the matter in U.S. District Court alleges that the abuse occurred in 2004. Attorneys were hired for the children's biological parent in 2009.

According to court documents, the foster parent was accused of denying medical care and providing poor supervision, which may have led to sexual abuse of a child or children by a man who was a registered sex offender in Nevada.

In return for the settlement, the plaintiffs, Tim D. Fullmer, et al., has agreed to dismiss their lawsuit against the county.

Foster care in Clark County has for years been the focus of intense scrutiny. In the mid-2000s, stories of children who died in foster care led to a resignation and the hiring of Tom Morton in 2006 to take over.

Morton, credited with helping turn Alabama‚s child welfare system into a national model, arguably improved the system, decreasing caseloads per case worker and ending the warehousing of children in Child Haven.

Morton resigned in August, citing increasing fiscal pressures and a trend indicating that cases per caseworker were once again on the rise, a trend he blamed on the need to cut staff in the face of budget cuts.


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