Opinion | For the Sake of the Children

By: | March 6, 2023

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

As pointed out by Appalachian State risk management professor David Marlett and some of his colleagues in a recent Griffith Foundation webinar, the state of liability indemnification for foster care parents in some states is something we should be addressing.

Some states, such as Georgia and Massachusetts, do the right thing and offer coverage for liability claims in the case of alleged negligence against foster parents as if those giving souls were state employees. Others, Georgia again being one, according to research by Marlett and his colleague Jamie Parson, offer foster parents immunity from negligence claims.

Others offer no such protection, and despite efforts to entice insurance companies to offer coverage, there remain painful gaps.
With no bankable network in place in many states, attorneys, risk management professionals and other savvy members of society will, for their own sake, avoid becoming foster parents.

“Anybody who’s aware of these gaps in coverage, they’re going to think twice,” is how Marlett said it.

The result of this dynamic is that the pool of adults willing to open their homes to children who need parents will be limited. The result of that is that children who need guidance, just a chance in life, really, will increasingly not get it.

Marlett and his wife served as foster parents for years. The experience can be fulfilling, he relates, but it can also exhaust emotional and financial reserves.

Here’s hoping the great work being done by Marlett and others to raise awareness of this issue will result in positive steps being taken in the states where foster parents face too much exposure to liability claims. &

More from Risk & Insurance