Due to shortage of foster family homes for adolescents, the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles has found a new way of outreaching runaway foster youth through Facebook. This small Runaway Outreach Unit, headed by Eric Ball chose to modernize their approach through Facebook for the advantage of helping teenage runaways. This unconventional approach which is needed to bridge the gap between the Department of Children and Family services and the Probation Department, is seeking to build trust with runaway teens. Since many of the teenage runaways have emotional or mental health issues, or some type of substance abuse problems, Bell and his outreach team seek not only to use Facebook as a means of communication, also by enlisting the help from families, community groups, and churches to form positive relationships. By incorporating Facebook as a method to build a connection with these teens, social workers like Ball, are able to earn their trust and also at times reunite them with their families. Since 2008, Ball has been able to, “locate 1,500 missing youths and ease 500 into independent living and out of foster care.” Read the article from the LA Times here.
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