Where’s the Lost Boy?

N.has been back in Winnipeg for nearly a month. He held out in Edmonton until May 18 or 19 and visited a shelter. His name was on a watch list and an Edmonton Child Care worker gave him a one way bus ticket to Winnipeg. He came back Thursday evening May 20 and spent the next five days on the street, and the nights in the emergency youth shelter. On Tuesday May 25 he was admitted to a Group Home at 240 Garfield in Winnipeg, operated by B & L Youth Services. He is the youngest kid in the home, which specializes in training kids to live independently in apartments, when they have a job or when they are eligible for Social Assistance.
N. came to see me on Thursday May 27, at my office. He was not hostile, and we didn’t look back at the demands and threats he made when he last spoke to me a few weeks ago. He assumed or knew that I had visited the Winnipeg CFS office after he ran away to Edmonton, and that I had retrieved his Warhammer models and his remaining clothes. I agreed to drive him to my house, pick up the stuff he wanted, and drop him at the Group Home.

I suggested I would check in on Saturday morning and see if we could go for breakfast. When Saturday came, he was gone again. He hadn’t come in on Friday night. The workers at the home weren’t too upset. They said his bed would be there for at least 10 days before they would remove him from the program. He seems to have spent most of the first week of June back on the street, but he went back to the group home on Sunday and began spending the nights there.
I visited the group home yesterday (Tuesday) and spoke with the manager, who calls himself Red. Red seems to have a greater grasp of the situation than n’s social worker – the Men’s Movement guy I mentioned in other posts. He didn’t appear to have been fully briefed by the social worker. He wasn’t aware of n’s outstanding criminal charges or his inpatient stay at Adolescent Psychiatry in February. He didn’t appear to have been told about n’s drug use, although he had figured that out for himself. He sees n. as wanting to use this group home to sleep, shower, shit and get the odd meal, and as being too immature to engage with the program – to get into classes to upgrade his education, to get a job, and to start saving to furnish an apartment. He tells me that he is going to start talking to n. about transferring to another home to see if n. is serious about working with this program. He doesn’t think n. should be given another hotel placement like he had in March and April, because that kind of care basically rewards n. for self-destructive choices.
N. was in the house when I visited – all the other kids had gone out to work or to look for work. I had a short chat with him. Nothing unexpected. He wants money for new shoes and clothes. (Red says he refused to try to sew up rips in his shirts and jeans. I know he had new shoes in April and that he abuses his footware). He wants better headphones for his discman – he seems to have “found” a new one somewhere. I said I wasn’t going to be throwing more cash into fixing his mistakes, especially when Red was offering to help him fix his clothes. This led to more anger. Within a few moments he was asking me to justify my disapproval of his life choices. Where does he get this sense of entitlement? I said I would try to talk to him again later in the week.
I will be visiting the group home again tomorrow and meeting with the “key” worker who handles administrative liason with CFS and reviewing planning issues and getting more information
I have some hope for n. if he starts to listen to Red, but the lure of the street is powerful now.