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View Full Version : Police/Sheriff in the middle of nowhere and a random kid...



Tazlima
05-30-2014, 03:28 AM
Here's the gist of the story (modern day setting) A 14 year old boy turns up waaaay out in the boonies. He's a nice kid and hasn't done anything wrong.

The adults he meets think he's a runaway and take him to the sheriff's office, who confirm that nobody's looking for him and his claim of not having any family is true. So now the sheriff has to figure out what to do with this random kid.

Here's the problem, the area is so sparsely populated that the sheriff's office has no contingencies for this situation. They don't have any approved foster parents within their jurisdiction, let alone a group home. Basically, the kid has nowhere to go.

1) Is this at all plausible? Are there any sheriff/police stations so far from any city that they could find themselves in this situation?

2) What would they realistically do with the kid?

3) Ideally, I would like him to end up staying for 3-4 weeks at the home of the sweet old lady who befriends him. She's in her 70s-80s, but still has all her facilities and is still able (albeit slowly and stiffly) to care for her chickens, a couple horses, some barn cats, etc. She offers her guest room and he really wants to stay with her. Would the authorities agree to this plan, at least temporarily, or would they insist on placing him someplace pre-approved?

benbenberi
05-30-2014, 03:51 AM
A couple of questions jump to mind:
1) How would the sheriff verify (apparently quickly, from the way you state it) that the kid has no family?

2) I don't think there's anywhere in the US that's not under the jurisdiction of some state's child protective services (the name varies from state to state). There's probably a lot of variation in how this kind of scenario would play out in detail, depending on the specific location. But I expect that even in the most remote areas there's an office that has to be contacted, procedures & paperwork to follow, & rules around what can be done & who can do it.

On the face of it, I find your scenario implausible. You'll want to do more research, getting down to the local level, & work out a way to make it work without bending reality too far. (For instance, if your sweet old lady likes to take in strays, find out how to get her on the pre-approved list.)

King Neptune
05-30-2014, 03:52 AM
I assume this to be set in the U.S., if so, then there is some sort of a plan for caring for lost children that appear. The directing agency probably would be a state agency.

If the old woman is approved as a foster parent, then it would be perfectly possible for the kid to be sent there, especially if she is the only approved foster parent with a long distance.

Nekko
05-30-2014, 04:00 AM
Taz - what if there were some sort of 'act of nature' that makes leaving this remote area near impossible for that time?
e.g blizzard, mudslide taking out part of the road or a bridge - or something else taking out a bridge over a wide/deep/ long drop/ stream that is the only way out? That seems much more plausible.

Since it's not a medical emergency, a state agency wouldn't be likely to send in a helicopter, so they might go along with your MC being temporarily housed with the old lady until the way out opened up.

Tazlima
05-30-2014, 04:31 AM
Yes, it's in the US. I'm thinking northern Virginia-ish.

Are there age restrictions on foster parents? The old lady's so well known for taking in stray animals (even if it's just to feed them until her niece can take them to the SPCA) that her farm has been nicknamed "The Dropbox." I could see her applying to be a foster parent. If she's too old, maybe she was one when she was younger. Is being approved for fostering a one and done deal, or is it something you have to renew periodically? (I know there are regular inspections once you have a foster child in your care).

Re: not having any family. The character is raised by his uncle. They live in the same community for years (nowhere near where he's found), so the neighbors know them well. The boy has the police call one of the neighbors who verifies his identity and tells the police that as far as she knows, the uncle is his only living relative. They tell the sheriff that the boy and his uncle moved out several weeks before. The boy claims that his uncle ditched him and there's no immediate way to prove otherwise.

I'm working under the assumption that there's a national database for missing children, so that with a neighbor to verify his identity, they could easily confirm that the uncle, at least, was not looking for the kid. (If there's not a database like this, there should be).

Ultimately, it works out either way, as long as they can't immediately locate any relatives. Even if they suspect he was kidnapped as a baby or that the uncle had estranged living relatives or whatever, research takes time, and the kid would have to stay somewhere in the meantime.

Nekko
05-30-2014, 06:55 AM
Yes, it's in the US. I'm thinking northern Virginia-ish.

Are there age restrictions on foster parents? The old lady's so well known for taking in stray animals (even if it's just to feed them until her niece can take them to the SPCA) that her farm has been nicknamed "The Dropbox." I could see her applying to be a foster parent. If she's too old, maybe she was one when she was younger. Is being approved for fostering a one and done deal, or is it something you have to renew periodically? (I know there are regular inspections once you have a foster child in your care).


Here's a link to the basics of becoming a foster parent in VA (http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/fc/index.cgi). They don't mention age restrictions. I assume that when they do a home assessment that they also do an assessment of whether the person/people involved seem capable. Here's another link to one VA county's requirements (http://www.co.goochland.va.us/Portals/0/Social%20Services/Foster%20Care%20flyer.pdf).

I've certainly known grandmothers who became kinship 'foster parents', but things in many states are a bit looser when it comes to family foster/adoption.

jclarkdawe
05-30-2014, 07:45 AM
If you're in any emergency service, it's real simple when you don't know what to do. You call you dispatcher. Dispatcher figures out who to call. For example, if you have someone being crushed by a boa constrictor, you call dispatch, who will find a snake expert, who will tell you that you use cold water to get the snake to let go. Need a backhoe at three in the morning, your dispatcher will get it for you. Need to place a kid at midnight on New Year's Eve, your dispatcher will connect you with the person who can do this.

However, if a kid has a reasonable story, and an adult that is trustworthy, you can get a judge to sign off on it. If your little old lady has the community standing to be trustworthy, and there's a reason why it makes sense, then it can happen. With a lot of kids, they get placed with a neighbor or teacher when their parents go off the tracks. Ideally, you want to make the kid comfortable and have the minimum of disruption that's possible in the circumstances.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

frimble3
05-30-2014, 09:44 AM
My concern is for the sweet old lady. How does the LEO know that he didn't kill the uncle? Or that criminals aren't chasing him?
There is the joke about the guy who kills his parents, then begs the court for mercy because he's an orphan. (Probably not the case in your story, but how does the sheriff/police officer know?)
He's just going to drop this kid off with a sweet elderly lady, who's a little slow and stiff, who might be unable to defend herself if something happens?
Couldn't leave him at the firehall? Or the hospital? Someplace with backup? Can't the sheriff take him home?

Tazlima
05-31-2014, 03:42 AM
Thanks everyone. This has really give me some great food for thought.Back to the drawing board for what to do with the kid... I've chucked him in 16 different directions but reality keeps pulling him back. Darn reality. :P

I know what happens next in the story, but finding a plausible path from point A to point B is killing me. Sigh...off to research some more.

WeaselFire
05-31-2014, 04:27 AM
1) Is this at all plausible?

Nope. In the US, every state has a state agency that handles minors. He would be handed over to them as soon as they got there.


3) Ideally, I would like him to end up staying for 3-4 weeks at the home of the sweet old lady who befriends him.

Then why are you turning him over to the cops? Skip the entire police section and write your story.

Jeff

Tazlima
05-31-2014, 05:07 AM
Then why are you turning him over to the cops? Skip the entire police section and write your story.

Jeff

I'd love to skip the authorities, but the adults involved are responsible and reasonable people. When they find out that he's alone, what else can they do? He needs a place to stay, food, clothes, and an education. Even if he could convince them to hold off reporting him until....

OMG, you just solved the problem!

Seriously! I was going to write that they couldn't just enroll him in school, they'd have a hard time explaining where he came from, no birth certificate, no ID, etc. But he isn't GOING back to school. He just needs to delay them for a few weeks! (For a long and complicated reason, he is secretly desperate to stay in the vicinity).

They can strike a deal agreeing to let him stay with them until school starts, but then they're turning him over to the proper authorities. I just move around the timing of a few events and it's a done deal! This part of the story is already set in the summertime and everything!

Oh, it's perfect! All the pieces just fell into place! It works with the characters' motivations and the plot timing and everything. EEEEEE!

*ahem* ... if you'll pardon me, I have to go write now.

wendymarlowe
06-01-2014, 11:22 PM
What if he claims he's 18? If they've got nobody to say otherwise, he has no ID, etc, they can't legally REQUIRE him to prove ID. And they can't chuck him into the foster system unless they can prove he has to go there, because they can't legally force an adult (and he'd be an adult until they prove him otherwise) to do anything. Even if it's pretty obvious he's not, that seems like the kind of situation where the kind old lady might offer and the police decide it's not worth the trouble of following up on unless someone raises a stink.

Tazlima
06-04-2014, 07:52 AM
Hmmm, that might just work. He does look a bit older than his age although not significantly so (not enough to pass for an adult), but there are plenty of baby-faced folks out there and he's gotten to be a pretty good liar by this point in the story.