On December 11, 2012, MBC attorney Jeremy Johnston negotiated an $11 million settlement for six clients with the Department of Social and Health Services. Our clients were sexually, physically and emotionally abused by their foster parents, Jose and Juanita Miranda, and alleged that DSHS and a number of individually named social workers were negligent in the licensing of the Mirandas and in investigating multiple complaints from May, 1998 until February, 2005. In addition, three of the six plaintiffs allege that their civil rights were violated by the defendants.
“As a parent, if you think about the worst things that can happen to your kids, some of those things probably happened in that home,” Johnston said.
DSHS granted the couple a foster care license although Juanita Miranda had a long history of drug use and criminal violations as well as having her biological children removed from her home in California. In addition, the couple was on welfare and disability when applying to become foster parents in Washington in 1997.
“This home should have never received a license,” Johnston said.
“We regret that these children suffered at the hands of adults they had trusted to love and keep them safe.”~DSHS Children’s Administration Assistant Secretary Denise Revels Robinson
This and previous cases of child abuse and neglect have resulted in DSHS making changes to help further strengthen the focus on child safety, including:
• Conducting more detailed screening of potential foster parents, including multiple meetings with the family and the seeking endorsements from extended relatives, references and “collateral contacts.”
• Formalizing the process of placing children in foster homes by involving social workers from different programs, the children’s families and service providers.
• Improving the documentation of case activities to assist supervisors in overseeing child-abuse investigations.
• The creation of a standardized, automated process that ensures allegations of child abuse are “appropriately screened in and investigated statewide.”
“Obviously, what happened was terribly traumatic for them and continues to be,” Johnston said. “They hope to move on.”
After confessing his crimes to a nurse while hospitalized, an investigation was conducted and Jose Miranda ultimately was convicted of sexually abusing some of the children. He died in prison in 2009 of congestive heart failure. His wife died three years prior of a drug overdose.
You can report abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult at 1-866 ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276) or, in an emergency situation, call 9-1-1.
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