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Oakland police said today that an arrest has been made in the case of an at-risk 16-year-old girl who walked away from a group home last Tuesday night and was found in San Francisco two days later. Police have not yet released the name of the person in custody or any more details about the arrest. The girl was considered at-risk because of her diminished mental capacity, which is that of a 9- to 12-year-old, police said last week.
Police said that when the teen walked away from the Fred Finch Youth Center at 3800 Coolidge Ave., where she lives, staff members followed her to International Boulevard and 34th Avenue, near the Fruitvale BART station, where they lost sight of her. Tom Alexander, chief executive at the youth center, did not immediately return a call for comment today. The California Department of Social Services, which oversees centers for developmentally disabled children, is investigating the incident to determine if Fred Finch officials acted appropriately, spokesman Michael Weston said today.
He said that if the investigation determines that the youth center didn’t handle the situation properly, it could face a wide variety of sanctions, up to having its license revoked. He said federal law requires that licensed care homes keep their doors unlocked, and prevents them from restraining residents to keep them from leaving. Weston said that if a child tries to leave a facility, staff members should try to redirect them to stay but can’t block them from leaving. He said staff members are directed to follow any youth who leaves and then contact police if they appear to be in danger.
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