The girl, who has the mental capacity of a 9- to 12-year-old, left the state-licensed Fred Finch Youth Center at 3800 Coolidge Ave. at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oakland police said Friday. The center specializes in emotionally disturbed and developmentally disabled youths and does not lock its doors, in accordance with federal law.
A Muni driver found her disoriented on a bus at 8 p.m. Thursday, officials said. She was being treated Friday at Highland Hospital in Oakland. Details on her condition were unavailable.v
The center's CEO, Tom Alexander, said the girl left Tuesday night despite efforts by staffers to persuade her to stay. "We did all that we could to counsel the youngster to return to the agency," he said.
Two staff members "shadowed" her on foot and in a car for about 2 miles, until she reached the Fruitvale BART Station, Alexander said.
BART police stopped the staff members in the car, however, just as they were trying to get a closer look by driving near the platform. The staffers "identified themselves and explained the circumstances - in that very brief time frame, she disappeared," Alexander said.The article quotes Michael Weston of the California Department of Social Services:
Weston stressed, however, that federal law requires licensed care homes to keep their doors unlocked and prevents them from restraining residents, even children, from leaving.
"If a child was to leave," Weston said, "staff is to redirect them to stay, but they don't have the authority to block them or physically restrain them."