CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 4, Chapter 10 (Case Management Activities), Subsection 2 – Diligent Searches

Effective Date:  7-2-2021

Diligent Searches

The Division is required to complete a diligent search to identify and locate the biological parents, relatives, adult siblings and parents of siblings. Reasonable efforts must be made to identify and find these individuals throughout the life of the case.

Progress made to locate the absent parent must be reported at each court hearing until the parent is identified and located or the court excuses further search. The law requires placement with the non-offending parent, with some exceptions, as long as that parent is entitled to physical custody.

The Children’s Service worker should use all sources of information, including the known parent, to attempt to locate any absent parents.

Diligent searches are also required for any and all appropriate family members known to the Children’s Division. These searches and their results should be documented in FACES.

When notifying relatives (including adult siblings and parents of siblings), staff should disclose the following:

  • The child has been or is being removed from the parent(s). Staff do not need to go into detail about the reason for removal as any removal related to the parents’ health information is protected
  • The options the relative has according to the law to participate in the care and placement of the child, including any options which may be lost by failing to respond to the notice
  • The requirements to become a resource family home and the additional services and support which are available for children
  • How guardianship could be a possible outcome for the child
  • The Children’s Service Worker, within 30 days of taking protective custody of the child(ren), must identify and notify all grandparents and other adult relatives to determine whether placement would be appropriate and whether support options are available within the child’s family.  The case record needs to clearly reflect why they would or would not be a resource to the child(ren). The worker should further assess whether factors that initially ruled out a potential support or family placement option can be remedied and make efforts to do so. The worker must also continue to reexamine any supports or family resources initially ruled out monthly to determine if circumstances have changed.

The Children’s Service Worker, within 30 days of taking protective custody of the child(ren), must identify and notify all adult grandparents and other adult relatives unless there is concern of domestic violence that would affect the safety of the child.

A complete and diligent search requires the following:

  • Using all known variations of the parent/relative’s name, search readily available resources, such as:
    • State computer systems including:
    • FACES – staff should complete a Call/Case Prior History search using DCN, Social Security Number, Name and Address if known
    • FAMIS – Staff should complete a Family Assistance Management Information System search by completing a DSS search in FACES. To access the FAMIS screens in FACES, staff should enter the parent/relative’s name, DCN, or social security number on the Call/Case Prior History screen. Staff should select the DSS search button and FAMIS case information will display on the FACES screen.
    • Child Support – Staff should complete a Missouri Automated Child Support System (MACSS) search by completing a DSS search in FACES. Staff should complete a Call/Case Prior History search in FACES and select the DSS search button. MACSS case information will display on the FACES screen.
      IMES, IBTH, IDTH, etc.

Bureau of Vital Records information is for inquiry only and should not be printed, faxed or copied. Certified copies of Missouri records of birth, death and fetal death reports can be obtained by submitting a written request to:

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Bureau of Vital Records
P.O. Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65102

For more information regarding Missouri birth and death records click on the following hyperlink: Request a Vital Record from the Department of Health.

    • Missouri Department of Corrections Offender Web Search at http://www.doc.mo.gov
    • Telephone Directory
    • Directory Assistance
    • City Directory
  • Child’s birth certificate.
  • For instances when infants are abandoned according to the Safe Place for Newborns Act, the Division shall not attempt to locate or determine the identity of the parent(s).  (see Section 210.950, RSMo)
  • Search agency records and make a master list of:
    • Previous phone numbers and addresses used by the parent/relative and the dates;
    • Names with current and previous addresses and phone numbers of people and agencies who have known the client, such as relatives, friends, employers, neighbors, probation officers, doctors, schools, hospitals, or others; and
    • Parent’s birth date (may be obtained from the child’s birth certificate), social security number and other identifying information.
  • Pursue leads developed in all efforts:
    • Make in-person and/or telephone contacts with family, friends, and neighbors at the parent/relative’s previous addresses; document results of each contact individually and specifically in the case narrative and on the child’s CS-1. Establishing good contact with these people is important in order to gain trust. Although they may not be willing to provide the parent/relative’s location, they may encourage the parent/relative to come forward or provide other useful information in locating the parent/relative.
    • Send “certified, return receipt requested” letters to the previous addresses of individuals not contacted in person.
    • Send blind copies of letters to addresses from which certified letters were returned (optional).
    • Send letters of inquiry to professionals or to agencies within the community which may have had contact with the family.
    • Address a letter to the parent/relative and place in an unsealed envelope and send to the Social Security Administration, Bureau of Data Processing, Baltimore, Maryland 21232, with a request
    • that it be forwarded to the parent/relative. Include the Social Security number if available.
    • Should identity and location of an absent parent or putative father be sought, the worker will use the Request for Location Services form, CD-88 and/or the Putative Father Registry.
  • Contact other agencies in Missouri and out of state which may have knowledge of the parent/relative, including, but not limited to:
    • Family Support Division Central Locate and Recovery Unit (CLU)—CLU provides staff with location information from the State and Federal Parent Locator Service. If workers complete a DSS search and no Missouri Automated Child Support System (MACSS) information is found, the worker should complete a CSE-250. Judicial Request for Location Services for alternative care cases only. The CLU will provide the worker with location information if available. New requests should be made when CLU reports no information was found after the 180 day search period to ensure diligent searches occur on an on-going basis.
    • Department of Revenue/Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)–Designated CD staff in each Region has authorization to complete a diligent search using DMV screens. Workers should complete the Request for Location Services form, CD-88, and submit it to their designated staff. Designated staff should complete their search within 7-10 business days and return the updated form to the Children’s Service Worker. The list of designated staff that can search DMV screens is posted on the CD intranet on each Region’s web page.
  • Social Media (Facebook, etc,) searches can be completed according to local protocols as needed.
  • TLO website can be used by assigned regional personnel to complete searches as needed.

The Children’s Service Worker will then complete their search for the parent or relative based on the information provided by the designated staff. Once identified, the worker should contact the individual by means of a certified letter. Due to the confidential nature of a child’s case, no identifying information should be provided in the letter. The letter may state that the individual’s name was provided to our agency as a parent or relative to a child in our custody as a possible placement resource. If the individual responds to the letter, the worker should verify their identity (by age/social security number/date of birth, or other identifying information as documented on the CD-88). Once the individual’s identity has been verified, the child’s identity can be released. If the individual desires to be considered as a placement resource, staff should proceed by completing a background check on the individual as per guidelines in Section 6 of this manual.

Document correspondence in detail in FACES and through Document Imaging. 

Staff may list the absent or non-custodial parent on the custodial parent’s AC case in FACES as a case member and their whereabouts on the Family View screen indicated as out of the home. Reasonable efforts to involve the parent should be documented on the child’s alternative care case.

All efforts to complete a diligent search shall be documented in the case narrative throughout the life of the case.

Related Memos and Practice Alerts

6-11-20 – CD20-23 – Update on Placement Hierarchy and Diligent Searches