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16 and wants to AWOL from independent living group home

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  • 16 and wants to AWOL from independent living group home

    So I’ve been in many group homes before and even locked facilities such as Residential Treatment Programs, I have been out of my moms care for about 6 or 7 months but only legally in Foster Care for 3 months. First off my DSS worker is THE WORST WORKER I HAVE EVER HAD (my mom is also a retired DSS worker so thats why I can’t have one in my county) She is NOT doing anything in my interest. I have repeatedly asked to go to NA meetings as I am a recovering addict from Marijuana and had been in Rehab around April of 2017. She has constantly told me how slow I am progressing in working on my anxiety and other issues although my therapist has told me this is the most work I have done in over 2 years on myself. I just really want to go home and they won’t let me. I have contacted my attorney today because of the fact that the group home that I was at REFUSED to take me to my drivers ed appointment because I was sick and didn’t go to school (even though I asked to go) so if I would have missed the appointment I would have had to pay $40 and they said they weren’t gonna pay for it, so I ended up walking half way and calling my mom crying (also they don’t know I have my phone on me because its not allowed but I have so severe anxiety from being away from my mom that I bought a prepaid phone from straight talk) so she transferred money to my bank account to get an Uber since I was walking IN THE DARK in DOWNTOWN in 30 degree weather. My mom then drove an hour to give me a ride back to the house ( which they told her she couldn’t see me but my mom isnt about to let me FREEZE AND WALK HOME ALONE IN THE DARK) I have a meeting on Wednesday and I really think they are trying to kick me out. If that is the case I am going to be running away from the home that night and using an Uber to get back to my home town which from there my boyfriend said I could live with his sister. I’m wondering if I stay there and am not caught until I’m 18 could they still keep me past 18 since I’m in Foster Care and would my boyfriends sister get in trouble? I know if I contact my attorney while I’m on the run he can’t tell anyone. I really don’t want to run but I feel like I’m stuck. I am constantly in a depressing environment that has on more than one occasion given me suicidal thoughts, thus making me feel like if I’m here any longer I may actually act on those thoughts, the workers here also mentally abuse me as far as my anxiety and depression. They have falsely punished me for things I have never done and refused me to contact my mother. This would be my first time AWOLING but I have been in so many placements and have talked to so many people who have ran that I know how to do it such as wearing clothes underneath the ones they see you leave in and removing/ hiding any piercings or tattoos that could reveal who you are and I sill be dying my hair. If I did run and got caught could they charge me? Also what if after I am caught my mother wanted to take me back and get custody could she do that? If when I runaway my mother sent me money for food and stuff but didn’t know where I was could she be charged? I just have a lot of questions because I want to make sure I have enough research and resources before running. I know I won’t be going to a shelter because thats the first way to get caught. Honestly I just want to know what happens if I get caught, I’m not really worried about staying somewhere.

  • #2
    Hey there,

    Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Safeline! It sounds like you have been through so much and it was very brave of you to reach out for help. It can be really scary and difficult to feel stuck and depressed. Thoughts of suicide are very serious and you are not alone. If you are having thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or take your own life you can always reach out for help and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7.

    We are so glad that you called and while we are not legal experts here, we can talking in general about running away and runaway reporting. Anyone under the age of 18 is legally considered a minor meaning that their parent or legal guardian is legally responsible for them. This means that if a minor were to leave home without permission of their legal guardian that guardian would have the right to file a runaway report with the police. Running away is not a criminal offense and does not go on your permanent record, it is a status offense. There are typically no legal consequences for the youth for running away unless they are currently on probation or involved in active legal issues. Typically, if a youth who has been reported as a runaway is found by the police they are usually returned to their legal guardian. Since it sounds like you are a ward of the state you would most likely be returned to Foster Care.

    Some states do have laws about harboring a runaway. Those laws apply to adults who let a youth who they know is reported as a runaway stay with them. However, laws and how they are enforced can vary from state to state and even among counties. One way to verify how your local police typically enforce the laws in your area is to call your local police non-emergency number to ask. You can find the non-emergency number for your local police on the website www.usacops.com. Your mother’s ability to get custody of you sounds like it would be a legal issue that would typically be handled by the court system. One option could be to ask your attorney for information; also, if you were able to give your location we could look for free lawyers/legal resources in your area. We are thankful that you reached out to the National Runaway Safeline and if you ever need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk or would like resources specific to your area you can contact us via phone 24/7 at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or via live chat on our website.

    Best, NRS
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

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