When foster kids run away bad things can and often do happen, according to Mary Van Cleve, an attorney for Columbia Legal Services.

“They’re at great risk of sexual exploitation,” Van Cleve said. “They’re at great risk of chronic homelessness. Their education gets interrupted.”

And the list goes on.

Now the state will be required to do more to reduce the number of foster youth who run away. The state must also: reduce social worker caseloads, offer better training for foster parents and provide more visits for separated siblings.

Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has made gains in foster care in recent years. Currently, the state is meeting 13 of 21 so-called benchmarks.