Data shows that children are increasingly committing suicide while in foster care.

What child advocates can do now.

The numbers of suicides of children in the foster care system are devastating and heartbreaking. Worse are the stories of how the children took their lives. As we know, these children are too often forgotten and become our most vulnerable. When these tragic cases come to your doorstep, we too often feel that the system is broken beyond repair. Yet, history proves that lawsuits are effective in making change and improving outcomes.

In a recent article in The New York Law Journal, the authors (Professors Sarteschi and Pollack) describe that with more than 400,000 children in foster care in the US, recent data suggests that youth in foster care “die by suicide at a rate much higher than usual when compared to the general population…Despite this increased risk, many foster agencies are not providing suicide risk assessments.”

Many factors go into proving that the suicide was avoidable, including:

  • Did the guardian have information that the child was suicidal?
  • Were there escalating and concerning behaviors?
  • What was the child’s history of maltreatment?
  • Did the child previously attempt suicide?
  • What medicine was the child taking? Did he or she write letters or tell people about a suicidal intention? Did he/she recently go through a lifestyle change involving housing or school?

How we can work together
If you are aware of a situation where a devastating suicide has occurred to a child in foster care, please contact me at We are handling cases that uncover neglect and abuse with policies, procedures and practices not in place in the home and system — to provide the child with safe treatment and home environment. There may be action we can take on behalf of your group or one of your clients to stop this trend. You have a strong voice and even stronger knowledge of the facts so that we can together hold “out of home care” facilities accountable and correct the increase in suicides. Please get in touch with me so we can discuss and strategize about any such tragedy that you may feel needs further investigation.

Please contact Steven Barrett with any questions you may have about your potential case at (215) 661-0400 or as soon as possible.

We are here to help!