A Day on the Run with a Social Worker

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A Day on the Run with a Social Worker The headline jumped out at me like a bright neon Lisa Frank elephant in print. I can go on and on about how the system has failed these youth and will fail many more. The argument is often that a foster home is not a good fit. Finding a good one is much tougher when DSHS has such a shortage of foster homes that kids are staying in hotels or even DSHS offices. Yet we won’t allow good families to become vetted and open their doors, and find jailing kids acceptable. I have asked the question a million times “Why do we think jail is the answer?” Stamps acknowledges detention for runaway foster kids is not the best option, but it can be a lifesaver. And it is better than having a kid fresh off a run sit in an office until he or she can find a foster home. “If a kid sits in an office waiting for a placement, he’ll be gone within a few hours. If I have a few hours of detention, it gives time to find a better option,” said Stamp.

I understand his reasoning, but we need to see the bigger picture here. Finding runaway foster kids is one of the more grim but meaningful jobs in state government. Grim because there are a lot of these kids, and the potential endings to a runaway story are often bad. I am grateful for social workers like Mike Stamps and his 10 peers who have the title runaway locators, as even rescuing one life is making a difference. I also think it is worth starting a conversation on how we can save and house these youths.

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