Child welfare activist dies of cancer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Nicholas Alahverdian, who grew up in foster care and went on to become a vocal critic of Rhode Island’s child care system, has died of cancer. He was 32.

Alahverdian died Saturday after losing a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to his obituary.

“He lived a warrior’s life,” the obituary reads. “A fighter in spirit, but a peacemaker in practice. He overcame significant abuse and harmful living conditions.”

Alahverdian was an outspoken critic of the state’s use of out-of-state facilities for children under the care of its Department of Children, Youth and Families.

He testified before state lawmakers about being sexually abused and tortured while he was shuffled from temporary shelters in Rhode Island to residential facilities in Florida and Nebraska.

“It’s an inhumane approach to a human problem,” Alahverdian told The Associated Press in 2011. “We have the ability to provide for them here. And we’re spending all this money to ship them across the country.”

Alahverdian later sued the state and his alleged abusers in a federal lawsuit that was settled in 2013. He’d also worked as a legislative aide in the State House and attended Harvard University.

State Rep. Ray Hull, a Providence Democrat, filed a resolution last month in honor of Alahverdian that calls for the creation of a House oversight commission to investigate treatment of children in state care.

Alahverdian is survived by his wife and two children.