CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 8, Chapter 4 (Child Public Performance and Media Involvement), Subsection 1 – Child Exploitation, Public Performance and Media Involvement

(Effective:  05/01/19)

4.1   Child Exploitation, Public Performance and Media Involvement

The Children’s Division (CD) prohibits the exploitation of children and supports a child’s right to privacy. The Court’s permission is required for ages 17 and under any time a child’s name or picture is used for public performance and media involvement.  At age 18 and over youth may sign their own media releases.  Public performance includes the following examples, agency fundraising, agency public relations events, speaker’s bureau, residential Open Houses and tours, etc.  Media involvement includes, but is not limited to, television, radio, the Internet, newspaper, magazines, or in any agency newsletter, brochure, flyer, video, or any other form of media.

4.1.1   Request for Public Performance and Media Involvement 17 and Under

Any agency wishing to use the name or photograph of a child in Children’s Division care and custody must contact the Children Service Worker at least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled event.

The Children’s Service Worker shall consult with their immediate supervisor regarding the request for public performance or media involvement. If age appropriate, the Children’s Service Worker shall discuss the public performance or media involvement request with the child and discuss his/her feelings about the specific request. Importantly, the Children’s Service Worker shall explain to the child that their participation in the public performance or media involvement is strictly voluntary. If the child expresses interest, and asks to participate in the specific request, the appropriate CD staff shall consult with the Court of Jurisdiction on each request for specified child. At no time shall a child be disciplined or punished for the refusal of public performance or media involvement.

Under no circumstances are CD staff authorized to sign a general release form to photograph a child without the expressed consent of the Juvenile or Family Court of jurisdiction. Furthermore, CD staff shall not share personal identifying information with the media relating to a child’s case.

4.1.2 Request for Public Performance and Media Involvement 18 and Over

Any agency wishing to use the name or photograph of a youth in Children’s Division care and custody must notify the youth’s Children’s Service Worker and receive expressed consent from the youth. The Children’s Service Worker shall discuss the public performance or media involvement request with the youth and discuss his/her feelings about the specific request.  Depending on the life experience, and the emotional, cognitive and behavioral capacities of youth, each may benefit from various levels of guidance to make a decision about their name of photograph’s use in media materials. Importantly, the Children’s Service Worker shall explain to the youth that their participation in the public performance or media involvement is strictly voluntary. If the youth expresses interest, and wants to participate in the specific request, they may sign their own release form and participate.    

 Under no circumstances are CD staff authorized to sign a general release form to photograph a youth without the expressed consent of the youth themselves. Furthermore, CD staff shall not share personal identifying information with the media relating to a youth’s case.

4.1.3 Use of a Child’s Personal Works

To use the personal works of a child, which includes, artwork, posters, poems, woodworks, etc, for public performance or media involvement requires the informed written consent of the child and his/her parent/guardian. In the event that the child and his/her parent/guardian grant permission for the use of such works and the child is credited or identified, only the child’s initials or first name shall be used.

4.1.4   Refusal of Public Performance and Media Involvement 17 and Under

If it is determined that the requested public performance or media involvement is not in the best interest of the child, the Children’s Service Worker and their immediate supervisor shall consult with the Regional Director/Designee for further consultation. The following examples, while not all inclusive, are reasons for refusing public performance or media involvement:

    • The child safety and well-being would be at risk;
    • The child has expressed that he/she does not want to participate;
    • The requesting agency is using the child to promote its religious beliefs;
    • The requesting agency is placing unreasonable demands for work on the child;
    • The child’s identity would not remain confidential;
    • The child’s current placement would be disrupted;
    • The child’s treatment and education would be negatively impacted;
    • The child may be a danger to him or herself or others;
    • The child is physically and mentally unable to participate; or
    • The Court of Jurisdiction forbids the public performance or media involvement of the specific child.

After consultation with the Regional Director/Designee and providing notice to the Court of Jurisdiction of the CD decision, the Children’s Service Worker will notify the requesting agency in writing that the specific public performance or media involvement is not approved.

Any disapproval of a child’s media involvement shall be documented in the child’s case file.

4.1.5 Refusal of Public Performance and Media Involvement 18 and Over

If the youth determines that the requested public performance or media involvement is not in their best interest, the Children’s Service Worker will help them notify the requesting agency in writing that they are not consenting to a specific public performance or media involvement.

Any refusals of a youth’s media involvement shall be documented in the youth’s case file.

The following examples, while not all inclusive, are reasons for refusing public performance or media involvement:

    • The youth safety and well-being would be at risk;
    • The youth has expressed that he/she does not want to participate;
    • The requesting agency is using the youth to promote its religious beliefs;
    • The requesting agency is placing unreasonable demands for work on the youth;
    • The youth’s identity would not remain confidential;
    • The youth’s current placement would be disrupted;
    • The youth’s treatment and education would be negatively impacted;
    • The youth may be a danger to him or herself or others; or
    • The youth is physically and mentally unable to participate.

4.1.6 Youth Unable to Provide Informed Consent 18 and Over

If it is believed that a youth is unable to give informed consent to the requested public performance or media involvement, the Children’s Service Worker and their immediate supervisor shall consult with the Regional Director/Designee for further consultation. Concerns with youth ability to give consent should be grounded in documented physical or mental conditions which would prevent them from entering into other legal contracts. If it is determined that a youth is unable to give consent, the choice to provide consent will be given to the Guardian ad Litem. If the Guardian ad Litem determines that a youth may participate in the public performance or media involvement, they should sign the consent form. If the Guardian ad Litem determines that a youth may NOT participate in the public performance or media involvement, the Children’s Service Worker will notify the requesting agency in writing that the specific public performance or media involvement is not approved.

Any concerns about a youth’s ability to give consent or disapproval of a child’s media involvement shall be documented in the youth’s case file.

Children in Custody Photos for Adoption

The Division shall ensure that the CD-AE-1b is completed by the Court of Jurisdiction or authorized agency personnel for a child in need of special recruitment.

4.1.7   Children not in Custody

Media involvement or public performance by a child not in the Children’s Division care and custody requires signed consent by the child and the parent/guardian.

4.1.8 Children in Custody Photos for Missing Status

When making a report of a missing child in care to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), staff will be required to provide a photograph of the missing child in order to create a missing child poster. NCMEC does not identify that the child is missing from care, that the child is in the custody of the Children’s Division, or release medical or sensitive information.  A court order is not required to release a photograph of a child in care to either NCMEC or law enforcement when it is being utilized to report a missing child.  Staff may sign NCMEC’s Release Form authorizing distribution of the child’s photograph.

Distribution of Posters

NCMEC staff will work with the child’s case manager to determine how the missing child poster will be distributed. Staff may distribute posters as appropriate on a case by case basis.  Posters may not be released to the media and should not be posted in areas where their identity as a foster child may be revealed, such as in local offices.  If posters of children missing from care are posted in other public areas, staff must remember to take them down when the child returns.