WFSE Honors Life-Saving Echo Glen Employees

Olympia, Wash. – Our union is honoring three Echo Glen Children's Center employees for their role in saving the life of a young person in their care.

On Sunday, January 30, Megan Krause and two of her coworkers witnessed an attack at Echo Glen that managers had been warned of for weeks beforehand.

A youth housed in a unit with other young people from a rival group was gravely injured.

The three women were able to save the young victim’s life by pressing a panic alarm and then, at great personal risk, stepping in to pull seven attackers off the victim.

Stabbed, beaten, and bruised, the victim survived because these three staff put their lives on the line.

WFSE member Megan Krause says helping kids and working for the state was her dream job. She’s been a juvenile rehabilitation officer at Echo Glen for just six months and relocated from out of state to seek the job. 

“I don’t feel that I should be one of the ones congratulated, because I’m doing my job,” she said.

“I just want everybody who is working there and putting their lives on the line to be recognized.”

Public employees should not have to be heroes—yet so many are. For weeks before this attack, staff warned that group affiliations were putting the youth at serious risk. Employees from Echo Glen have spoken out for decades about the powder keg of inadequate staffing levels, low pay, and high turnover. Still, Echo Glen is not fully staffed.

“We are putting our bodies and our lives on the line,” said Krause. 

“It’s not a regular security job with a little bit of risk. Every single day walking in, you could be assaulted. You could be stabbed.” 

Washington is not fulfilling its commitment to these youth, the staff who care for them, or our communities. We call for legislators and decision-makers to listen to the workers who keep Junior Rehabilitation (JR) facilities running when they say: pay staff enough to alleviate the constant turnover and resulting safety issues, and fully fund adequate full-time positions for the safety and survival of everyone at Echo Glen. 

The saga of mental health care in facilities in Washington State is a long and difficult one. 

Mental health care workers and facility staff are exposed to dangerous working conditions and secondary trauma. Chronically low wages and not enough full-time positions lead to constant turnover. 

High rates of turnover are linked to staff burnout, improper training, and serious safety issues. 

Still, public employees like Krause and her coworkers are dedicated to their work. 

“If I could save that one kid, just that one, if I could make a difference in one kid’s life, that would be worth it to me,” Krause said.

Speak out now. Legislators need to hear it from you: Personal endangerment should not be a part of public service. Youth in Juvenile Rehabilitation facilities deserve safety, support, and real rehabilitation. Public employees are dedicated, hard-working, and willing to provide that skilled support—but they can’t succeed in an under-funded and unsafe facility.

Sign up for an appointment with your legislators to discuss funding JR facilities and the other public services Washingtonians depend on.