SEATTLE — Three children are in protective custody after they were discovered in an unsanctioned homeless camp under the West Seattle bridge without their parents.
The children, ages six, three, and one, were found dirty and hungry.
“I’m a mom, and I can’t even begin to imagine how bad it was for those little children,” Gretchen Taylor said.
She and Cindy Pierce are members of the Neighborhood Safety Alliance, which advocates for public safety and has come out against council members’ push to legalize homeless camping. They had previously noticed the homeless encampment and walked on-site when they saw a cleaning crew working.
Then, Taylor noticed two silhouettes of young children in a tent.
“I don’t want camping in the city of Seattle,” Taylor said. “I don’t. But this takes it to a brand new level for me.”
They called the mayor’s office to notify them, and said that city officials coordinated with Child Protective Services. They accompanied the children to CPS, and agency employees told city officials that the children would receive baths, be fed and would go into foster care while CPS attempted to locate their parents and investigate the circumstances of their care.
City sources told KIRO 7 that an adult that was nearby at the camp, which is crowded with tents and RVs, was “not in appropriate condition” to care for the kids.
“It better be a wake-up call,” Pierce said. “We spend over $50 million a year on social services in this city. How can they miss this? How can the city miss this?”
Taylor and Pierce fear that as homeless encampments pop up across the city, children like these could slip through the cracks.
“I want to find them and hug them because they need ... It's just, it's unacceptable,” Pierce said. “It's unacceptable.”
The Mayor’s Office said city officials are working on redoubling efforts to identify children living in dangerous situations and working with partner agencies.
Cox Media Group