reneetest

reneetest

Effective date:  5-1-19

 

This subsection outlines procedures when reporting a missing or runaway child who is in the custody or under the supervision of the Children’s Division (CD). This includes all children in CD custody less than age 21. In addition, this policy outlines the procedures to follow for any child who CD has reasonable cause to believe is, or is at risk of being a sex trafficking victim.

Missouri statutes 43.400 – 43.410, RSMo., contain provisions for reporting missing persons to the State Highway Patrol.

A missing child/juvenile is defined as “any person who is under the age of seventeen years, whose temporary or permanent residence is in the state of Missouri or who is believed to be within the state of Missouri, whose location has not been determined, and who has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency.”

A child/juvenile may be considered missing if they meet one of the following characteristics:

  • If they have runaway from the residence of a parent, legal guardian, or custodian;
  • If they are missing under circumstances indicating that the person was or is in the presence of or under the control of a party whose presence or control was or is in violation of a permanent or temporary court order and fourteen or more days have elapsed, during which time the party has failed to file any pleading with the court seeking modification of the permanent or temporary court order.

Anyone over the age of seventeen years is considered missing if they meet one of the following characteristics:

  • Is physically or mentally disabled to the degree that the person is dependent upon an agency or another individual;
  • Is missing under circumstances indicating that the missing person’s safety may be in danger;
  • Is missing under involuntary or unknown circumstances;
  • Is missing under circumstances indicating that the person was or is in the presence of or under the control of a party whose presence or control was or is in violation of a permanent or temporary court order and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person may be taken outside of the United States.

For general purposes, a foster child is considered to be missing or on run status as soon as their physical whereabouts are unknown to CD or physical custodian. A foster child is under the care and custody of the CD and responsibility therefore lies with the CD staff, contracted service workers, and resource provider to ensure the safety and well-being to the best of their ability.

4.9.1 Runaway Child Protocol

When a child in care is determined to be a runaway, the case manager should take the following steps.

  • Immediately notify law enforcement (no later than 24 hours) to file a “missing child report” or “missing person report”. The resource provider should initiate contact with local law enforcement and the child’s worker if the child is missing or has run away from their premises.  This includes the Highway Patrol, so they can add the child to their system, which can be searched across the state.
  • Notify juvenile officer, Guardian Ad Litem and the child’s parents.
  • Submit the necessary paperwork to the juvenile office to request the court issue a “capias” or “pick-up” order. The court order provides police or Division staff with the authorization to locate and detain a runaway child as a delinquent. A written report must be filed with the juvenile office informing the court of the child’s run from Division care.

Not all circuits will issue a capias or pick-up order. Check with your local juvenile office or court for protocol and required paperwork when a child is on the run. If local court will not issue a capias or pick-up order, a local protocol should be developed with the juvenile office or court.

  • Contact family members, friends, counselors, school faculty or others who may have information about the whereabouts of the child.
    • The worker should continue to make these contacts a minimum of once per month until the child is located.
    • Record all contact or attempted contact in the case narrative.
  • Follow procedures for creating a Protective Service Alert (PSA). See section 4.9.2 below.
  • Within twenty-four (24) hours, notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This is for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) missing from care. This can be completed by calling 1-800-THE-LOST or by completing an online report to NCMEC. The website for online reporting is: https://cmfc.missingkids.org/reportit and may only be utilized by staff. Staff will be required to complete an online account prior to submitting a report.

When reporting online, it is imperative that all fields be answered thoroughly and accurately.  To assist NCMEC in responding timely, the case manager’s name and contact information must be identified within the online report. 

When reporting to NCMEC, the case manager should be prepared to provide the following:

    • The child’s case manager’s name and contact information;
    • Information regarding the law enforcement agency involved, including the case number, and assigned law enforcement officer’s contact information;
    • Descriptive information regarding the missing child, including date of birth, height, weight, physical description (eye color, hair color, complexion, tattoos, piercings, etc.), clothing worn at the time the child was last seen, medical and/or mental health conditions; and,
    • Details surrounding the circumstances leading to the child’s missing status.
  • Update the child’s Alternative Care Client Information screen in FACES.
    • For traditional, Youth with Elevated Needs-Level A or Level B, and emergency foster care placements, enter the temporary location as RUN. If the child is located before the 7th day, end the temporary location. If RUN status extends beyond the 7th day, the primary placement will automatically change to RUN on the 8th day.
    • For Youth with Elevated Needs-Level B or residential placement, maintenance payment continues through the 7th day from which the child ran away in cases where the bed or placement will be held specifically for that child. In this event, enter the temporary location as RUN. If the child is located before the 7th day, end the temporary location. If RUN status extends beyond the 7th day, the primary placement will automatically change to RUN on the 8th day.. Residential payments are not generated from the AC Client Information screen, SS-61, but for Level B placements the maintenance code, field 56, should be changed to “3 – No maintenance payment”.
  • Cross check Family Support Division screens IPAR, IMES, as well as MO HealthNet screens MXIX and MCII on production. Food stamps assistance can be checked through FAMIS on the FAPC screen. Memo CD-04-40 provides specific details on how to access FAPC information.
  • Check systems monthly to see if the child is receiving assistance or is listed in separate household receiving benefits.
  • Record system checks in the case narrative.
  • Immediately send out statewide Protective Service Alert through state email using the following guidelines:
    • Discuss with direct supervisor whether applicable and obtain approval from Circuit Manager.
    • Draft email to include:
      • Identifying information including name, date of birth, DCN, and social security number of child.
      • Narrative information about the child’s abduction including last known location and other information that may be helpful.
      • Worker contact information including county address and telephone number.
    • Send protective service alert email information to DSS.CD.PSA@dss.mo.gov for state-wide distribution. Repeat every 90 days until child is recovered.

Chronic Run Away Youth

Children who have run away multiple times are at an increased risk for involvement in commercial sexual exploitation of children. It may be appropriate to make a referral to the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for a forensic interview of the child, even if they have made no disclosure or provided information about involvement in trafficking. Local county offices are strongly encouraged to work with their CAC to develop protocols for assessing these youth.

4.9.2 Missing Children Not in Care

Staff should report all children known to be missing to law enforcement and NCMEC, not just those in the custody of the Division. 

Reporting missing children not in care to NCMEC may only be done through the NCMEC hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.  For children not in care, staff should only contact NCMEC if they are able to provide the name, age, address, and all identifying characteristics of the missing child and the length of time the child has been missing. 

Staff does not need a signed release of information from the child’s custodian in order to make a report.  Staff will be required to provide contact information for the child’s legal guardian and information regarding the law enforcement agency involved, including the case number, and assigned law enforcement officer’s contact information. 

Staff should advise the child’s guardian of the legal reporting requirement prior to making a report to NCMEC.  NCMEC will contact the legal guardian for follow up information and coordination.  Legal guardians may choose to provide the missing child’s photograph to NCMEC by either:

  • Emailing “imaging@ncmec.org” and listing the child’s name and date of birth in the subject line or
  • Providing a photograph to the case manager and signing an Authorization for Release of Non-Medical Records by/to Children’s Division (CD-98) authorizing the case manager to provide the photograph to NCMEC.

4.9.3 Child Abduction Protocol

When a child is determined to be missing and there is reason to suspect that the child has been abducted, the worker shall take the following steps:

  • Immediately notify local law enforcement that the child has been abducted. The resource provider should contact local law enforcement and the child’s worker if the child has been abducted from their premises. Provide law enforcement the following information:
    • Description of victim and photo of child if requested
    • Time, location and description of the abduction
    • If known, description of suspect including vehicle and direction of travel

Law enforcement will assess the individual case information and determine whether to issue a local or state-wide alert on the abduction. The Missouri Amber Alert system is an example of a state-wide alert.

  • Within twenty-four (24) hours, notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  This can be completed by calling 1-800-THE-LOST or by completing an online report to NCMEC.  The website for online reporting is: https://cmfc.missingkids.org/reportit and may only be utilized by staff.
  • Immediately notify direct supervisor, Circuit Manager, and Regional Director of child abduction.
  • Immediately send out statewide Protective Service Alert through state E-mail using the following guidelines:
    • Discuss with direct supervisor whether applicable and obtain approval from Circuit Manager.
    • Draft E-mail to include:
      • Identifying information including name, date of birth, DCN, and social security number of child.
      • Narrative information about the child’s abduction including last known location and other information that may be helpful.
      • Worker contact information including county address and telephone number.
    • Send protective service alert E-mail information to “DSS.CD.PSA@dss.mo.gov” for state-wide distribution. Repeat every 90 days until child is recovered.
  • Notify juvenile office, Guardian Ad Litem, the child’s parents, and others as appropriate.
  • Submit a written report to the court of jurisdiction notifying them of the abduction and actions taken within one (1) working day.
  • Update the child’s Alternative Care Client Information screen in FACES.
    • For traditional, Level B, and emergency foster placements, change placement type enter the temporary location as RUN. If the child is located before the 7th day, end the temporary location. If RUN status extends beyond the 7th day, the primary placement will automatically change to RUN on the 8th day.
    • For Level B or residential placement, maintenance payment continues through the 7th day from which the child ran away in cases where the bed or placement will be held specifically for that child. Enter the temporary location as RUN. If the child is located before the 7th day, end the temporary location. If RUN status extends beyond the 7th day, the primary placement will automatically change to RUN on the 8th day.
  • Document all actions in the case record.

4.9.4 Child Return or Recovery

When a runaway or missing child is located, the case manager must assess the factors that led to the child being absent and to the greatest extent possible, address those factors in subsequent placements. The case manager should also determine the child’s experiences while absent, including whether the child fell victim to commercial child sexual exploitation.

Indicators that a child is involved in CSEC include, but are not limited to:

  • Frequent runaway episodes
  • A heightened sense fear or distrust of authority
  • Unable to identify where they were while they were gone
  • Has money or material goods without a clear explanation of how they were obtained
  • Physical injuries with no explanation of how they were received
  • Has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a history of STIs
  • Uses drugs and/or alcohol
  • Reports sexual assaults by strangers
  • Talks about a paramour, but does not provide their identity
  • Frequent unexplained absences from school
  • Involved in gang activity
  • Appears fearful, anxious, depressed, tense, nervous, paranoid, or hyper vigilant
  • Has multiple cell phones
  • Has hotel keys or talks about staying in hotels
  • Has suspicious tattoos or other signs of branding
  • Child has inappropriate, sexually suggestive activity on social media, the internet, or cell phone apps
  • Refuses to talk about their experiences while on runaway status
  • Child associates and/or has relationships with age-inappropriate friends and/or paramours
  • Identifying victims of CSEC can be challenging due to the following:
    • They may not view themselves as victims.
    • They may not trust adults due to trauma they have experienced.
    • They may be concerned they will face legal consequences for their role in CSEC.
    • Their trafficker may have made threats to harm the child, their family, and/or friends.
  • Traumatic bonding of the child to their trafficker is often an influential factor that interferes with self-identification as a victim and in severing the child’s relationship to their trafficker. Traffickers use power and control tactics to make their victims increasingly reliant on them for emotional and psychological needs. Children who are emotionally vulnerable due to a history of abuse/neglect are especially vulnerable to the tactics of traffickers.

Additional Steps

When a runaway or missing child is located, the case manager should also complete the following:

    1. Immediately assess the safety of child.
    2. Notify law enforcement, juvenile office, Guardian Ad Litem, the resource provider, the child’s parents, and their attorney as appropriate of the child’s return or recovery.
    3. Determine whether to:
      1. return child  to the previous resource provider
      2. place child in new or temporary placement
      3. place child in a more secure or restrictive environment
      4. Seek approval for non-traditional placement (i.e. friend of child, older sibling, parents who rights are been terminated but continue relationship with child.)
      5. Arrange for medical or mental health screening.
      6. Update the child’s AC Client Information screen in FACES to reflect current placement type and begin payment or resume payment for pre-existing Level A or Level B home.
    4. Arrange for a medical examination of the child within twenty-four (24) hours of the child’s return.
    5. Change residence code on child’s AC Client Information screen in FACES to reflect current placement in order to re-enroll child in MO HealthNet.
    6. Schedule Family Support Team (FST) meeting within 72 hours of child’s return to address:
      • safety concerns
      • reason the child ran away  (i.e. didn’t like the rules, placement issues, couldn’t handle responsibilities in home, ran to be with friends, parents, others)
      • additional support services the child may need
      • unexplored or non-traditional placements options
      • potential changes in the child’s case plan

It is important for FST members to consider case specific information when addressing these issues or making changes to the child’s case plan. Members should consider the specific needs of the child especially when considering alternative placement settings. Any child age 12 or over should be included in the FST meeting.

Screening after a Child Returns or is Recovered

  • Once a child is located, the case manager must talk to the child to determine the factors that led to the child’s absence and their experiences while they were gone.
  • Questions to ask include, but are not limited to:
    • What made you leave your placement?
    • Where did you go when you left?
    • How did you take care of yourself while you were gone?
    • Did you have money? How did you get money?
    • How did you eat?
    • Where did you sleep?
    • Who helped you while you were gone?
    • Did you have to do anything in exchange for their help?
    • Did anyone hurt you?
    • Did you do anything that made you uncomfortable?
    • Are you worried about anything that happened to you while you were away?
  • The case manager should also notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of the child’s return.

Suspicion of Abuse or Human Trafficking

If a child provides information that may indicate they were abused or involved in trafficking, the following must occur immediately, but no later than 24 hours after receiving the information:

    • The case manager must immediately contact the Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU) to make a report of child abuse and neglect. The case manager should inform the hotline of any suspicion of involvement in human trafficking.
    • The case manager should ensure that law enforcement is notified of the concern.
    • A referral to the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) should be made for a forensic interview to further explore the child’s experiences in care if there is an indication the child was abused or trafficked.
    • The case manager must contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or make an online tip report at www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/report-trafficking .

4.9.5 Failure to Locate Protocol

The first priority of the worker shall always be to locate a runaway child and remedy the reasons that the child has run. However, there may be individual cases where the Division may want to explore a request for release of jurisdiction from the court. All requests for release of custodial responsibility should be evaluated on a case by case basis by the case manager, their direct supervisor, and FST team members. During the FST meeting, there should be a thorough review of documented efforts and consideration of the following factors:

  • the age of the child
  • the number and type of previous placements
  • the current and concurrent case plan
  • whether TPR has or has not occurred
  • the child’s progress and compliance in cooperating with the division’s services
  • the child’s run history (one time event verses chronic runs)
  • whether the child is running to a specific place or person
  • is there an exit plan in place for the child to provide on-going support? (See memorandum CD04-56 for details on exit planning)

It is important that a child never be released from custody without an exit plan in place as it is our responsibility to ensure that youth leaving the foster care system either have support services in place or know how to obtain them as needed in the future. Non-compliance cannot be used as the sole reason to request termination of custodial duties by the division. With this understanding, there may be rare situations where it is appropriate to request a release of jurisdiction when it is clear that there is a documented history of chronic and repeated non-compliance on the child’s part to accept placements and services offered by the Division or in cases where the child has been missing without contact for a minimum of twelve months. This does not include cases where the child has run to a non-approved placement and remains in contact with the worker. Placement issues need to be addressed by the worker, child, FST members and the court.

If the court of jurisdiction does not agree to a release of custody and the child is not located, the worker should continue to:

  1. Contact law enforcement, family, relatives, friends and all other contacts once per month in an effort to locate the child for a minimum of six months;
  2. Monthly cross check Family Support Division screens IPAR and IMES as well as Food stamps screen through FAMIS system on the FAPC screen;
  3. If after six months, the child is not located, continue to contact law enforcement, relatives and other contacts on a quarterly basis in effort to locate child;
  4. Continue to provide written summary to court on all actions taken to locate child; and
  5. Resubmit request for release of jurisdiction at all court hearings.

4.9.6 Protective Service Alerts

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