Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - Alaska

Date: May 2020

Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: CPS Man. § 2.2.7

From the Child Protective Services Manual: Within 24 hours of being notified that the child is has run away from care, the Office of Children's Services (OCS) will report to law enforcement the matter for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

OCS will report missing, abducted minors and victims of sex trafficking to law enforcement, NCIC, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) databases within 24 hours of being notified. A missing minor is defined as an individual younger than age 18 whose whereabouts are unknown to the minor's legal custodian.

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: CPS Man. § 2.2.7

As soon as possible, and no longer than 12 hours, of being notified that a child in the custody of the Department of Human Resources has run away from a department-authorized or court-ordered placement, the protective services (PS) specialist will take steps to locate and return the child to the authorized placement or other designated place of safety.

When a minor has been identified as missing, the PS specialist will do the following:

  • Within 12 hours of the child's departure, notify the legal parent, guardian, resource family, local law enforcement, and assigned PS specialist having jurisdiction in the community of origin, if appropriate, that the child is missing from placement
  • Contact the intake unit immediately, and no longer than within 24 hours, to ensure the minor is entered into the NCMEC database
  • Notify the school, Tribal representative, guardian ad litem, and other collaterals, as appropriate, to inform them of the missing minor
  • Collect information from collateral contacts regarding the reason for the child's absence from care

Determining the Factors That Led to a Child's Absence From Care

Citation: CPS Man. § 2.2.7

When the minor has been located, the PS specialist will document all significant case actions relating to the runaway to determine why the child is absent from care, including information gained from collateral contacts and any information regarding potential indicators of sex trafficking.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: CPS Man. § 2.2.7

When the minor has been located, the PS specialist will do the following:

  • Notify the legal parent, guardian, resource family, and assigned PS specialist having jurisdiction in the community of origin, as appropriate, within 12 hours of the child's return to placement or other location
  • If the child returns to placement, cancel the request to locate and reports of a missing child as soon as possible by informing law enforcement and the Intake Unit

When the child has been located, the PS specialist will use the Guide for Assessing Runaway or Missing Minors statewide form to ask the child about his or her experiences while away from care and to assess for possible signs or information regarding whether the child is at risk or has been a sex trafficking victim. If there are signs indicating sex trafficking, the OCS staff member will report to the Intake Unit immediately, or within 24 hours.

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

Citation: Res. Fam. Handbook

From the Alaska Resource Family Handbook: If a child is away from a foster home due to an unapproved absence, such as running away, foster care payments may be authorized to continue for a maximum of 5 nights, if authorized by the assigned worker. The 5-day payment may be made only if the foster family immediately notifies the assigned worker of the unapproved absence of 10 hours or more. If the child does not return within the 5-day period, that space becomes available on the sixth day, unless other arrangements are made with the assigned worker.

If the assigned worker determines within the first 5 days that the child will not be returned to the foster home, payment will continue through the date of the determination, not the full 5 days. If the child's absence from a foster home extends beyond 5 nights, payment will resume when the child returns to the foster home and the assigned worker authorizes payment.