Governor defends foster care

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Gov. Don Carcieri on Tuesday defended the state’s foster care system, rebutting claims in a new federal lawsuit that children in state custody been abused, neglected and sent back to unsafe homes.

The lawsuit, filed last week by the state’s child advocate against the governor and the Department of Children, Youth and Families, cites 10 children who it says were mistreated in foster care.

The governor said he was briefed by DCYF officials about those 10 cases on Tuesday and was confident, after an initial review, that the department and its caseworkers acted appropriately.

“In cases where there were allegations of abuse, DCYF acted properly in following up on these reports. Many of these cases resulted in findings that were either unsubstantiated or reversed on appeal,” the governor said in a statement late Tuesday. “It appears that DCYF staff established appropriate safety plans in the cases that were reviewed.”

The complaint alleges that some children have been returned to homes where they had previously reported being abused. But Carcieri said he did not believe that any child was knowingly put in harm’s way.

He also noted that the Family Court oversaw each case in the DCYF case management process.

The suit from child advocate Jametta Alston seeks class action status and was filed on behalf of the 3,000 children in the state’s legal custody. It demands an overhaul of the state’s foster care system and alleges systemic problems with it.

Carcieri, who has vowed to “to get to the bottom of the allegations,” said his review would continue.

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