Karen de Sá Investigates Shelters, Where Traumatized Children are Met with ‘Handcuffs and Jail Cells’

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle published journalist Karen de Sá’s latest investigation of the child welfare system.

Credit: The San Francisco Chronicle

In “Dubious Arrests, Damaged Lives“, de Sá and team of Chronicle reporters focused on “emergency shelters.” These shelters, which have been phased out in many counties, are often the first stop for children entering foster care, and are also meant to be a temporary sanctuary as children bounce between foster care placements.

As de Sá told me, these shelters are where traumatized children go, and when they act out they should be met with a system and staff that are prepared for the outbursts that inevitably come.

“They display emotions that are the trauma of their lives,” de Sá said. “If those predictable behaviors get met with police and sheriffs and handcuffs and jail cells, that is not taking kids into protective custody. It’s a failure.”

This latest story by the seasoned investigative journalist is likely to drive policy change.

During her long tenure at the San Jose Mercury News, de Sá’s investigations into juvenile dependency courts and the “drugging” of foster youth, led to reforms that are still felt today.

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