A parental notification law changing in July could affect how the My Friends Place teen homeless shelter operates.
Sue Delucchi, co-director of Safe Harbor Crisis Nursery, the nonprofit that operates the shelter, said a provision in Washington law that gives teen homeless shelters up to 72 hours to notify parents when teens check in at the shelter is expiring and returning to an older law that allows only 12 hours for notification.
That means shelters such as My Friends Place, which opened late last year, will have less time to evaluate teenagers' claims they left home because of abuse and connect them to appropriate services before parents whisk them away, Delucchi said at a Thursday forum in Pasco.
"This becomes an issue when a child is running away from a frightening situation or where there is neglect or abuse," she said.
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My Friends Place is an overnight shelter in Kennewick for 13- to 17-year-olds. It allows teenagers to spend the night, do laundry, get a hot meal and get help getting into counseling, substance abuse treatment or other social services.
It's a joint project of Safe Harbor and the My Friends Place nonprofit, which formed a few years ago for the purpose of opening a teen shelter in the Tri-Cities.
Of the 24 teenagers the shelter has served since it opened, five have been placed into foster care, said Tami Driver, the shelter's director.
"That's very hard to do," Driver said. "That is an accomplishment for us because it means we are gaining credibility in the state."
She said many of the teenagers who come to the shelter are "throw-away kids" whose parents kicked them out of the house. They can find some stability at My Friends Place.
"They are really good kids," she said. "Do they have issues? You bet. If I came from the homes they came from, I'd have issues too."
Delucchi said the nonprofit plans to talk with lawmakers about restoring the72-hour notification rule when the Legislature next meets in January.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org