Press Release – DCYF Reform Advocate Nicholas Alahverdian Diagnosed with Lymphoma

Nicholas Alahverdian
© 2019 The Nicholas Alahverdian Trust. All rights reserved

January 10, 2020

DCYF Reform Advocate Nicholas Alahverdian Diagnosed with Late-stage Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma — It is with deep sadness that we announce that Nicholas Alahverdian, a strong advocate for reform of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) since 2002, has been diagnosed with late stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This untimely diagnosis, coupled with multiple heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems over the past three years, has caused great pain to Mr. Alahverdian, and, more importantly, his loving wife and children.

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Alahverdian served as a page and a legislative aide in the Rhode Island General Assembly from 2002-2003 and was simultaneously in the care of the DCYF due to his abusive parents. He was able to provide insight into the abusive and negligent practices such as the night-to-night program and the lack of adequate facilities of the Department to senators and representatives. Alahverdian subsequently took a leave of absence as a General Assembly employee to become a lobbyist to further his advocacy.  Deemed a publicity threat as a result of his advocacy, he was then sent by DCYF to two out of state placements in Florida and Nebraska where he was raped, beaten, and allowed no contact with the outside world until his 18th birthday.

In 2011, Alahverdian began a lengthy legal and political battle against DCYF, filing legislation in conjunction with Reps. Bob DaSilva, Ray Hull, Arthur Handy, and Michael Marcello to reform DCYF, end out of state placements, and create a DCYF oversight committee, three bills which were supported by the majority of the members of the House of Representatives but failed to get out of committee. In federal court, he also sued the DCYF as well as the group homes where the abuse occurred. The case was ultimately settled in 2013. (Read the lawsuit here.)

DCYF remains in chaos and without a permanent Director. Trista Piccola’s tenure lasted merely two years and was filled with budget deficits, fatalities and near-fatalities of children, high rates of abuse, and one of the highest rates of family separation in the nation. Additionally, the federal government has indicated that DCYF has failed to achieve minimal standards in 33 of 36 areas assessed.

As a result of the debilitating symptoms of this advanced disease, Mr. Alahverdian has been ordered to step aside from all duties pertaining to his passion for reforming DCYF, as well as other recent projects that included the United States becoming a signatory to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, a United Nations human rights treaty signed by every member of the United Nations with the exception of the United States of America. Nicholas Alahverdian would like to thank those whom have offered their support and prayers over the past few months. He kindly requests the continuance of these prayers.

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