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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – OCTOBER 28, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — United States District Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. approved the creation of The Nicholas Edward Alahverdian Trust earlier today, paving the way for an improved quality of life for Rhode Island’s children and adolescents in the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families.
The creation of the trust comes after Alahverdian settled with the Rhode Island DCYF in a lawsuit filed after he suffered years of abuse and negligence while in state care following Alahverdian’s work as a legislative aide for the Rhode Island House of Representatives and a lobbyist advocating for social justice.
Alahverdian has committed that the trustees of the trust have been directed to focus on the creation of a child abuse and resource center hotline staffed by trained individuals and the formation of a drop-in center for youth who are in state care. The drop-in center will also serve as a hub for adolescents in the foster care system to plan for transitioning out of foster care and will assist them in applying to the universities of their choice. They will be guided by trained and supportive professionals throughout the college application process, enhanced by SAT and ACT tutors on-site.
Also announced is the Nicholas Alahverdian Education Illumination Scholarship, which will offer a grant to those who commit to carrying on Alahverdian’s crusade to ensure that children and adolescents from disadvantageous circumstances have a fair chance at receiving a challenging and unparalleled education.
“Today we set another milestone – enhancing the lives of those who would otherwise be ignored,” Alahverdian said. “Yesterday, foster kids might not have had an idea of where to turn. Today we pioneered access to necessary resources. Tomorrow, they will be successful adults and contributing members of the citizenry. Not on my watch will kids who grew up in state care be treated like second-class citizens.”
More details on application processes and acquisitions of the Trust will be released in the forthcoming weeks.
The Providence Phoenix’s “Phillipe and Jorge” section featured Nicholas Alahverdian in a column published on June 26, 2013:
Copyright © 2013 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE | June 26, 2013
In November of 2002, the Providence Journal’s Bob Kerr wrote about a 15-year-old, Nicholas Alahverdian, who at the time was living at a group home in Rhode Island. Nicholas had been “forced to live his life in bits and pieces, never knowing how long he will be living or going to school in the same place,” Kerr wrote.
Nick was in “night-to-night placement” under the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Kerr explained. “It is often little more than a couch to sleep on for the night, followed by a day of wondering where the next couch will be.” In night-to-night placement, Nick would be threatened; assaulted; have his clothing and sneakers stolen; and then, after waking up early in the morning, go to the DCYF building to wait and see where he would be going the following night.
But Nick was smart, very smart. He devoured newspapers and books and kept notes on what was going on in his life. He also told Kerr at the time that he was in “a war with people who are trying to destroy kids’ lives.”
Somehow, Nick survived and eventually attended classes at Harvard University. Fast forward to 2011 when Kerr talked to Nick again. By then, at age 23, Nick told Kerr how the Family Court in RI sent him out of state to facilities “that featured barbed wire, lockdowns, and limited access to the outside world — all at a cost of $330 a day to the state he came from,” Kerr wrote.
Nick believed that he was being sent out of state, to Manatee Palms, a facility in Florida (where he says he was assaulted almost every day and which has twice been closed by the State of Florida since because of “hurtful behavior” by staff) and Boys Town in Nebraska to shut him up. As a teen, he had worked as a page and aide at the state house and he knew how things worked.
Nick has helped craft legislation to end the horrors that are visited on youth in the state of RI and held news conferences to discuss this. He has sued the state of Rhode Island, primarily to change the way other children who find themselves in similar situations are being treated.
But the horrors for children in state care continue. Earlier this month, a former employee at Harmony Hill School in Glocester told WJAR-Channel 10 that staff at the school broke the arm of her 13-year-old son while restraining him on June 1. She also said that investigations into abuse are thwarted by the school’s administration. The boy was placed at the school after he repeatedly ran away from group homes.
And on June 21, WPRI Channel 12 reported that “a 2 ½-year-old girl pronounced dead after being found unresponsive inside a Cranston home was in DCYF custody… According to the Department of Children, Youth and Families, the girl and her 4-year-old brother had been living with a foster mother in her Imperial Ave. home for about a month.”
Your superior correspondents suggest that you and the “powers that be” in the state of Rhode Island should listen to what Nicholas Alahverdian has to say. We can and should do a better job because there is plenty of horror out there.
DCYF reform activist Nicholas Alahverdian and Providence Phoenix columnist Rudy Cheeks chat with Joe Vileno of “Viewpoint” about the problem-plagued Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, and potential solutions for the state’s most disreputable and criticized department.
Buddy Cianci of News Talk 630 WPRO & 99.7 FM talks with Nicholas Alahverdian about his suit against the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families.
Background: Nicholas Alahverdian had been in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) due to his alcoholic and abusive parents. He was tortured, physically and sexually abused, deprived of medical care and neglected by employees of the group homes and his peers. The twist in the story is that when he was 15, he was a legislative aide for the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
When he began to arrive at the State House covered in bruises, cuts, and fresh scars, legislators discovered the conditions that he lived in. State representatives and senators worked with Nicholas to push for reform of the system, but in 2002 DCYF placed him in two out-of-state placements where even worse abuse and torture continued and he was prohibited from contacting lawyers, the police, the courts, or anyone else. He was given copious amounts of sedating drugs, kept in confinement, and prohibited from attending school until he aged out of the system at age 18.
Both placements were later shut down by their respective states for abuse and neglect, and he returned to Rhode Island at age 18. He has been a lobbyist who pushed for several bills that would end out of state placements and protect children in state care from abuse and neglect.
He has since filed suit against the State of Rhode Island and state officials (including former Governor Donald L. Carcieri) for deliberately and knowingly allowing the torture to continue and conspiring to prevent him from working with the legislators who pressured them to reform the system and put him in a safe, permanent placement.