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Longtime child welfare advocate fighting cancer

Nicholas Alahverdian. (WJAR)
Nicholas Alahverdian. (WJAR)
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A longtime advocate for the reform of Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has been diagnosed with late-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma, NBC 10 has learned.

Nicholas Alahverdian, 32, said he recently learned of the cancer diagnosis and is spending time with his wife and two small children.

Alahverdian was once a State House page and legislative aide in the Rhode Island General Assembly. He's been an outspoken critic of the DCYF, having been in foster care during his early teens.

He was moved out of state by the agency to Florida and Nebraska, where he claimed he was raped and beaten in group homes. He later sued DCYF and settled for an undisclosed amount.

Alahverdian eventually worked with lawmakers to try to make changes at DCYF, including ending the practice of out-of-state placement, but those proposals fell short of passing.

In 2020, he remains critical of the state agency, which has struggled with budget deficits and the safety of children.

"It's going to take willpower, energy and effective management to provide for the overhaul of the department," said Alahverdian.

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