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Topic: dshs

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August 11, 2014 at 5:45 AM

With the end of psychiatric boarding, a new mental health crisis decades in the making

The state Supreme Court’s opinion on Thursday invalidating psychiatric “boarding” has thrown Washington’s already-messy mental-health system into chaos.

An estimated 350 very ill people across the state are currently being warehoused in emergency rooms, usually without treatment, because the state hasn’t funded enough psychiatric beds. State and county mental-health managers are scrambling to suddenly find beds for them. If they don’t, the patients could be cut loose, with potentially dire consequences, particularly to themselves.

King County mental health director Jim Vollendroff told me Friday morning eight people were in limbo. “We’re scrambling for those,” he said.

What’s disturbing is that Thursday’s ruling, In The Matter of The Detention of D.W., seemed to catch the state by surprise, with no advance planning.


Comments | Topics: dshs, mental health

February 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Prevent Washington’s foster kids from running away

My Thursday column on sex trafficking and the foster care system opened with a line about the number of wards running away from homes they’ve been placed in by the state.

Below are three charts that show the extent of the problem between January 2010 and March 2013. These graphs from Columbia Legal Services are from the last report compiled by the state Department of Social and Health Services for a now-defunct working group called Missing from Care.

1. How many kids under the care of the state run away each month? DSHS reported a low of 116 runaways in January 2010 and a high of 172 in April 2012.

Source: DSHS Children's Administration

Source: DSHS Children’s Administration


Comments | Topics: Dave Reichert, dshs, foster care