A couple who had been foster parents for over a decade without incident accepted placement of two siblings, a toddler and an infant. Just as they’d done with all the other foster children who had come through their home, they took the two new “littles” to work with them every day at the daycare center that they owned operated.
Their usual routine was for the foster Dad to go to work before dawn to unlock the doors for the morning staff to receive the children who were dropped off by parents before going to work. One morning, the foster Dad had an early appointment so the foster Mom loaded the two little ones into their carseats and left to open their daycare center. On the way there, she received a phone call from one of her staff who was calling out sick. She was still talking on the phone as she got out of the car and unlocked the door for another staff who was waiting. Just then cars with kids started pulling in. She didn’t normally do the “morning routine,” so she got caught up in greeting children and talking to parents. Then she had to call around to try to find someone to cover for the employee who had called out.
A few hours had passed before the preschool teacher who cared for the two newest foster children asked where they were that day. Instantly, it dawned on the foster Mom that she had left the children out in the car. It was 124 degrees in the car when she unstrapped the unconscious and barely breathing toddler from her carseat. The infant was already dead. The toddler died shortly thereafter
The Claim That Followed
The biological family of the siblings filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county that placed the children, the private non profit foster family agency that had certified the foster family, and against the foster Mom. The district attorney filed charges of criminal negligence against the foster mother.
Despite the fact that the foster family agency had properly vetted, trained, and supervised the foster family, they were found partially responsible for the deaths of the children. The court found that the foster family agency should have known that the foster parents could be distracted by the running of a business, and would not be able to devote the time necessary to adequately care for two young children.
The insurance company for the foster family agency defended the FFA and the foster Mom in the civil suit. A settlement was provided to the biological family. The foster Mom was convicted and continues to serve her sentence.