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After Hours: Fostering Chaos

KING 5's Chris Ingalls and Taylor Mirfendereski investigate the mistreatment of Washington state's "hard to place" foster youth.
Credit: Adobe Stock

After Hours: Fostering Chaos is a multi-part, on-going KING 5 investigation into the mistreatment of Washington state's "hard to place" foster youth.

Part 1

No Bed, no blanket: Social workers blow whistle on Washington forcing foster youth to sleep in cars, offices as punishment 

May 20, 2021A four-month KING 5 investigation found a years-long pattern of Washington child protection workers dangling basic necessities like a safe, warm place to sleep as a way to get certain “hard to place” foster children to behave or follow orders.  

Read and watch the full story

Credit: Ryan Coe / KING 5
A foster teen rests on the floor of the Washington Department of Children Youth and Families office lobby in Kent.

Part 2

Washington watchdog to probe child welfare agency over alleged punishment of foster youth 

June 8, 2021The state watchdog’s probe comes in response to a KING 5 investigation, which uncovered a years-long pattern of Washington child protection workers dangling basic necessities, like a safe, warm place to sleep, as a way to get challenging foster youth to behave or follow orders.

Read and watch the full story.

Credit: Zoom Screenshot / KING
Patrick Dowd is director of the Washington Office of Family and Children's Ombuds.

Part 3

Washington state agrees to end hotel, office stays for foster youth 

June 21, 2021The Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) has agreed to put an end to its years-long practice of placing foster youth overnight in hotels and state offices, according to federal court documents filed on Friday.

Read the full story.

Credit: Taylor Mirfenderski / KING 5

Part 4

Washington social workers claim lack of support from state in after-hours foster care 

July 13, 2021: Interviews with DCYF employees and a review of law enforcement records reveal a chaotic and unstable environment for the social workers who work the night shift.

Read and watch the full story.

Credit: Kent Police Department
A screenshot of Kent Police Department body camera video shows Seairra, a Washington state after-hours social worker, talking with police officers after she was nearly attacked by a foster teen in January 2021.


Part 5

DCYF oversight board grills state child welfare leader about alleged punishment of foster youth

July 15, 2021DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter faced nearly two hours of questioning from members of an oversight group Thursday in direct response to multiple KING 5 investigations.

Read the full story.

Credit: KING
DCYF secretary Ross Hunter.

Taylor Mirfendereski is a KING 5 investigative reporter, who specializes in multimedia storytelling, longform reporting and digital projects. Follow her on twitter at @taylormirf. E-mail her at tmirfendereski@king5.com or contact her via Signal at 206-348-4106.

Chris Ingalls is a KING 5 investigative reporter. Follow him on twitter @CJIngalls. E-mail him at cingalls@king5.com or contact him via Signal at 971-267-5320