Girl missing from Blaine treatment center

Teen missing after leaving treatment facility

BLAINE, Minn. - The search is on for a 15-year-old girl who was allowed to leave a treatment facility after workers there didn't check that person's identity.

She has now been missing for two months.

“I hope that she makes contact. I hope she's safe,” said Kelly Wesner, of Volunteers of America, which runs the Avanti Center for Girls in Blaine. The facility is a place for teenage girls to live and receive mental health treatment.

“I am concerned about this young girl being out there,” said Teresa Lhotka, executive director of Missing Children Minnesota. She's not involved in this case, but intends to watch it closely.

“This case is unusual because they don't have information about the person that the child left with,” said Lhotka.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services conducted an investigation after the July 3 incident. It found that the girl left the Center with a unknown person after staff did not check the visitor's identification. A report from that investigation says a staff member said they forgot to check. The state found neglect by staff and ordered corrections. Wesner says one employee was terminated.

“In eleven years this has never happened where a kid has left with somebody they weren't supposed to or masquerading as you know someone on their approved list,” said Wesner. She says kids are known to run away from treatment centers, but they usually aren’t gone for long.

“We're confident in our procedures and our staff training and we will continue to make sure they are followed every single time at every residential center in VOA,” said Wesner.

The only description VOA could provide of the person in question was a slender woman with blonde hair.

The case is in the hands of the Blaine Police Department, but who the girl could be with is still a mystery.

“This is serious and we are deeply concerned for her safety and we want her to call us or call the authorities and let us know where she is 

The Minnesota Department of Human Services says it will do an unannounced follow-up with the Center to make sure new policies are being followed.

KARE 11 News contacted the Blaine Police Department for information on its involvement but has not heard back.


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