Sunday, February 11, 2007

Case Law Development: Foster Parent's Privilege to Use Reasonable Physical Discipline Does Not Extend to Spanking that Leaves Extensive Bruising

The Arkansas Supreme Court finds that foster parents are “guardians” for purposes of the child abuse statute which permits “reasonable and moderate” physical punishment “for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.” The case involved a foster mother who had appealed the entry of her name on the state child-maltreatment registry, with the consequence that she would be thereafter ineligible to be a foster parent. While the court found that, despite the fact that foster parents are trained not to use physical discipline, the state statute’s exception for physical discipline extends to foster parents. However, in this case, the court agreed that the Department of Health and Human Services had not erred in refusing to remove the foster mother’s name from the registry since she had spanked a four-year-old child who suffered from cerebral palsy, used a walker for assistance, and was not potty-trained and left eight to ten straight-line bruises from the top of her knees, to the bottom of her buttocks, all of which were visible 27 hours later. The court concluded “we simply cannot say that such injuries constituted "minor temporary marks," nor were they the result of reasonable or moderate physical discipline.”

Dept. of Health and Human Services v. R.C., 2007 Ark. LEXIS 102 (February 8, 2007)
Opinion on the web (last visited February 11, 2007 bgf)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2007/02/case_law_develo_1.html

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