Talks Continue to Place Jane Doe With Foster Family

Jun 2, 2014

Robin McHaelen, director of True Colors, an advocacy group for LGBT youth.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR
"It will probably be a month or more before she's out of York."
Robin McHaelen

Advocates for a 16-year-old transgender girl at York women’s prison are working with the Department of Children and Families to find a foster family for Jane Doe. Her story continues to attract national attention. 

Every day, people around the country use social media tools like Twitter to share news stories about Jane Doe's case, and to ask for signatures on a change.org petition. The petition urges state officials to move the teen from York Correctional Institution, where she's been since early April when a judge approved a rare transfer of custody from DCF to the Department of Correction.

Robin McHaelen, the director of True Colors, an advocacy group for LGBT youth, is involved in discussions to find a suitable place for the teen. McHaelen told WNPR, "We're working directly with DCF and other care providers, but mostly her guardian ad litem, to identify potential foster homes."

McHaelen said Jane Doe hasn't succeeded in residential facilities because of the trauma she's experienced in her life. DCF said the teen, who has an extensive history of physical and sexual abuse, is too violent to remain in its custody. The latest incident was in January, when she was removed from a Massachusetts residential facility after fighting with staff.

McHaelen said some foster families have said they want to take care of the girl. They include several families from out of state, and two in Connecticut.

"Even if we identify a family today," McHaelen said, "it will take a bit of time to get them trained, and they gotta meet Jane, and do some work there. So it will probably be a month or more before she's out of York."

The teen is currently living on the York campus in a single housing unit, separate from the prison's main building and inmate population.

McHaelen said that despite the circumstances, the teen is doing alright. "She talks about the ways in which she's managing her own internal stress," she said. "She knows that there's a lot of people that are really working in her best interests."

While advocates work to find a home for her, Jane Doe is being represented in both federal and state courts. Connecticut is being sued for violating the teen's rights, and there's an appeal of the original court order that sent the juvenile to the adult prison.