How could foster child be abused for ten years?

The Flemish health care minister Jo Vandeurzen (Flemish Christian democrat) has ordered an investigation into how a child could be abused in a Flemish foster family for a decade without the authorities intervening.

The child is placed with foster parents when she is three years old because her birth mother is a drug addict.

The girl stayed with foster parents in Duffel (Antwerp) for ten years before any action was taken despite countless reports of maltreatment. The child was fed mouldy food by her foster mother and her partner. She had to sleep on the ground and was beaten.

For ten years the fostering authorities failed to detect the abuse despite countless indications that something was amiss.

The girl's school alerted the school doctors and her GP. Neighbours contacted the police. The Fostering agency and pupil guidance people were all informed, but it was only at the age of 14 that the girl was taken away from her foster mother.

The health care minister has now ordered an internal enquiry to establish what exactly went wrong and to prevent any repeat. The abuse started in the nineties. The girl is now a 21-year-old woman, but is still suffering the effects of the abuse.