25 Investigates: Missing and Forgotten foster kids

25 Investigates reveals the results of a yearlong investigation into foster kids abandoned by the system. In this In-Depth special, we take a look at the children who have gone missing and been forgotten.

BOSTON — Abused, abandoned and forgotten: around the country, the foster system has closed cases while children are still missing.

Boston 25 News spent a year investigating the failures of the foster care system and looking into the stories of children who go missing while in the foster care system.

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Child welfare workers across the country have kicked thousands of missing foster care children out of the system – including one child as young as 9-years-old, a review by 25 Investigates uncovered.

Nearly 20 years ago, Chelsea police made a disturbing discovery in the back of a parking lot at the Chelsea Soldier’s Home — the mutilated, headless body of a young woman. Now known as Chelsea Jane Doe, her killer has been caught, but she has never been identified. Advocates believe she may have been a former foster child and sex trafficking victim.

Sex traffickers are selling foster kids on the weekends. 25 Investigates found cases of kids in foster care pimped out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then returned to their taxpayer-funded group homes on Monday.

On any given week there are dozens of missing foster kids in Massachusetts alone and Arlington Police Detective James Smith has made it his personal mission to bring these kids home.

A defiant Gov. Charlie Baker pushed back against a 25 Investigates report that the Department of Children and Families has been closing the cases of missing Massachusetts kids, but Baker’s political rival vowed to make the foster care failure an issue on the campaign trail.

Steve Pemberton spent his formative years in foster care and he says his story of escaping a broken foster care system is one of defiance and survival.

“They'd already taken my childhood, you couldn't have my life too,” he told Boston 25 News.

Washington Post The other missing children scandal: Thousands of lost American foster kids

An Op-Ed in the Washington Post recently highlighted our work on this topic. The article in the opinion section cites Eric Rasmussen and Erin Smith's work to review federal records and uncover America's lost foster kids.

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Were you or someone who know dropped from the DCF system? Email 25investigates@boston25.com to share your story.