B.K. v. Flanagan names 10 children as plaintiffs to represent the more than 16,000 abused and neglected children in Arizona foster care. They range in age from 3 to 14 and have been in foster homes and institutions across Maricopa and Pima counties.
B.K. entered foster care for the third time when she was 8. Even though she showed signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, psychosis and anxiety, as well as physical abuse, she was separated from her siblings and put in a group home on an “emergency shelter” basis for two years. The state ignored her need for glasses, and didn’t address her limp or toothache for months. The group home also enrolled her in a specialized school where she was the only girl. B.K. didn’t get consistent counseling or mental health services, though she said she was hearing voices, and threatened to hurt herself and others. She has been cycled in and out of foster homes, the group home and three different schools. Her counselor stopped seeing her at the shelter, as it was too far away. She has not had regular contact with her mother or siblings. While her behavioral health coordinator felt that B.K. should be in a “Home Care Training to Home Care Client Services” (HCTC) foster home with therapeutic services, she had to wait months before being placed in one. During that time she was admitted to the hospital twice for psychiatric crises.
C.P. has been in foster care for less than two years, but the state has already moved him through eight schools and 11 placements. In one home, he was physically abused. In another, the parents spoke Spanish, which is not his language. Over the past year, he has had only one sibling visit with one of his two sisters, even though they are the only people with whom he has meaningful attachments. The state has repeatedly failed to provide him with mental health treatment. After expressing suicidal thoughts when he was 6, C.P. was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Upon discharge the state moved him through a pair of shelters, instead of placing him in a therapeutic foster home with immediate intensive trauma therapy, as recommended. Three weeks later, he was again hospitalized after threatening to hurt himself with a knife. C.P. is finally in a therapeutic foster home, but his health care providers have decided that he can’t get intensive therapy until he is in a more permanent placement.
The state’s goal for B.T. is adoption, but after spending half his life in foster care, being moved through a series of foster homes, group homes, shelters and hospitals, and experiencing one failed adoption, B.T. does not expect to join a permanent, loving family. “I feel like I get tossed around like a bag of chips,” he said. Even though B.T. has been diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, time and again the Department of Child Safety (DCS) has fallen short when it comes to affording him much needed psychological care. When an aunt, whose request for an updated psychological evaluation was ignored, told the state she could no longer care for Bryce, the state moved him to an emergency foster home rather than providing mental health services. The next month, B.T. threatened to kill himself. The state responded by moving B.T., then only 6 years old, to a group home. During his years in state care, B.T. has been separated from his siblings, denied visitation with them and has endured repeated educational disruptions.
A.A. entered foster care for the second time in 2011. He has been deprived of physical, dental and mental health care services. He also has been separated from his brother and denied visitation with him. While A.A. was living in an unlicensed kinship home with his aunt and uncle, A.A.’s uncle posted a video on YouTube of himself tasering a 15-year-old child living in the house while another child is heard crying in the background. A.A.’s aunt and uncle were also using corporal punishment to discipline A.A.. While these facts were known to the state, it never investigated them. Despite his young age, A.A. has lived in two different non-therapeutic group homes since April 2014.
The C-B Siblings: M. C-B, 7; D. C-B, 6; A. C-B, 5; and J. C-B, 3
Brothers A. C-B and M. C-B and sisters J. C-B and D. C-B. have a goal of reunification — yet they didn’t see their mother for the first four months they were in state care, and initially were placed two and a half hours away from her home. They spent two weeks with their father, where they didn’t get visits from their case manager or behavioral health services, even though D. C-B and A. C-B were exhibiting sexualized behaviors indicative of possible sexual abuse. All four were denied trauma therapy for nine months, and still have had very few therapy sessions, despite a juvenile court hearing that mandated it. The court later called the DCS’ conduct “appalling.” The children have been unnecessarily separated from each other several times, and to this day, J. C-B, the youngest, remains in a different foster home than her brothers and sister.
J.M. went into foster care when he was 6. In two and a half years he has lived in at least 13 places, including four different group homes within a four-month period. As a result, he has attended five schools in two years, and at one point missed 60 days of school. J.M. was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but his Individualized Education Program, which had been ordered by the juvenile court, was constantly delayed because of his placement changes. At times he had to travel six hours round trip for two-hour visits with his mother, the only person with whom he has strong family ties. The moves disrupted J.M.’s much-needed mental health care, which he was required to exhaust before the state would put him in a therapeutic foster home. Once he got approval for such a home, none were available and J.M. had to stay at a shelter for four more months. In late October, DCS moved him to a licensed non-therapeutic foster home.
J.C. entered foster care when he was 8. His behavior suggested that he had been sexually abused and he was placed in a therapeutic foster home, but then was moved to a non-therapeutic group home for seven months. There his mental health immediately deteriorated, with J.C. soiling his pants and banging his head against the wall. The state moved J.C. to his father’s home while DCS retained legal custody. His father did not take him to his therapy sessions, and two months later, 9-year-old J.C. attempted suicide by overdosing on his psychotropic medication. He later disclosed that his father had been hitting him with a belt, abuse so severe that the police conducted a criminal investigation. The state put J.C. in a non-therapeutic group home; he had to change schools and he had significant problems adjusting. In July, DCS moved J.C. again, this time to a therapeutic group home in another county, resulting in another school disruption. He is now in a therapeutic foster home.