Judge Sides Again With Wash. Foster Youth

Jul 22, 2014

A judge in Bellingham has ordered the state of Washington to do more to locate foster children who run away.

Monday's decision is the latest chapter in a nearly 16-year-long legal fight to improve Washington’s foster care system.

When foster kids run away, bad things can and often do happen according to Mary Van Cleve, an attorney for Columbia Legal Services.

“They’re at great risk of sexual exploitation,” she said. “They’re at great risk of chronic homelessness. Their education gets interrupted.”

And the list goes on.

Now the state will be required to do more to reduce the number of foster youth who run away. The state must also reduce social worker caseloads, offer better training for foster parents and provide more visits for separated siblings.

Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has made gains in foster care in recent years. Currently, the state is meeting 13 of 21 so-called benchmarks.