A missing teenager who admitted to using crystal methamphetamine, and was enrolled in a special drug and alcohol course for children, has cost taxpayers more than $600,000 so far. Source: ThinkStock
TAXPAYERS are forking out more than $12,000 a week to care for a tragic ice-addicted 14-year-old girl who has run away from authorities more than 20 times.
The teenager’s sad plight is proving to be one of the most problematic – and expensive – for Queensland’s child safety experts amid fears she is selling herself for sex to fund her drug habit while she is out of their care.
The Sunday Mail can reveal the Brisbane girl disappeared again last Sunday during a scheduled visit to the house of a family member, sparking a missing person alert for the “high-risk” teenager.
The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was placed in the care of the State Government’s Department of Child Safety by the courts and has a history of violence, and “unsafe and at-risk behaviour”.
When she disappeared previously from Department of Child Safety accommodation, authorities tracked her down at several locations including the Queen Street Mall, hospitals, and suspected “drug houses”.
The Sunday Mail has been told the teenager admitted to using “ice’’, or crystal methamphetamine, and was enrolled in a special drug and alcohol course for children to help her break her habit.
Agencies also fear she is committing sex offences while on the run to fund her drug use.
“It is very sad, and very frustrating,’’ said a source who knows the girl’s family.
“Authorities are doing everything they possibly can to support her, but she tragically just keeps turning her back on them.
“She is receiving an extraordinary level of care, including around-the-clock access to social workers and a psychologist, and has been enrolled in several courses, but it just seems nothing can stop her walking out (of care).”
The Sunday Mail understands the girl – who has been treated for mental health issues and an eating disorder – is proving to be one of the most expensive child-safety cases within DOCS’s system.
It’s believed more than $600,000 has been spent on providing services and care for the girl since she was removed from her parents and accommodated in a suburban home.
The Child Protection Inquiry was told in 2012 that the price of housing four children in one Queensland home cost taxpayers $1 million a year – or $250,000 each. Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman yesterday refused to specifically discuss the missing 14-year-old’s case.
“The safety of children must always be paramount,” she said.
“A small number of children can have very challenging behaviour, often due to suffering trauma or abuse, and there are sometimes high costs for their care.
“However, the overall proportion of these children is very small and we are working on strategies to reduce costs where possible, while ensuring they remain safe.”