“Panic is never good.”
But a lot of you are panicking about D.C.’s missing children, so what went wrong?
“I think the one thing we could have done better is put it all in context before initiating the list of the missing girls and said hey, this is what we do all the time, the numbers haven’t gone up, we’re just expanding our reach,” said Brenda Donald, Director of DC’s Child and Family Services.
“In a foster home or a group home, if kids don’t show up on time, we report them missing even if a couple of hours and work with police to find out if it’s just a late curfew issue or bigger problem,” Donald explained.
The difference is police never put their faces on social media before. That explains why 18-year-old Vaneisha Weaver told WUSA9’s Mike Valerio that she was reported missing though she texted with her social worker the whole time.
And remember the girl we reported on Friday? Her allegations of mistreatment at her foster home had us thinking and asking questions.
“We take any allegation seriously and will investigate them. A lot of children that come into foster care have trauma and mental health issues, foster parents are trained and social workers but sometimes things happen and kids express trauma in different ways.”
Director Donald will be co-chairing the Mayor’s missing children’s task force. She will work with community members to address the root problems of missing children and wrap them around existing services to help keep them home.
“This is a community problem and we will solve it as a community,” she said.
In 2001, 3300 children in D.C. were part of the foster care system.
DC CFSA went below 1,000 for the first time since. Currently 940 children are enrolled in foster care, half are teenagers.
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They receive an allowance and stay in the system until 21. Many get support to attend college and former foster children work at the agency as social workers, clinicians, mental health professionals, or ombudsmen.
On average 12 children are assigned one social worker, among the lowest ratio in the nation.