Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - California

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Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: Pen. Code § 11166

When a child or youth who is receiving child welfare services and who is reasonably believed to be the victim of, or is at risk of being the victim of, commercial sexual exploitation, as defined in § 11165.1, is missing or has been abducted, the county probation or welfare department shall immediately, or in no case later than 24 hours from receipt of the information, report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement authority for entry into the National Crime Information Center database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Wel. & Inst. Code § 16501.35

County child welfare agencies and probation departments shall develop and implement specific protocols to expeditiously locate any child missing from foster care. At a minimum, these policies shall describe the efforts used by county child welfare or probation staff to expeditiously locate any child or nonminor dependent missing from care, including, but not limited to, the timeframe for reporting missing youth, the individuals or entities entitled to notice that a youth is missing, any required initial and ongoing efforts to locate youth, and plans to return youth to placement.

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

Citation: Wel. & Inst. Code § 16501.35

When a child is missing from foster care, the social worker or probation officer must determine the primary factors that contributed to the child or nonminor dependent running away or otherwise being absent from care.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

Citation: Wel. & Inst. Code § 16501.35

When a child is missing from foster care, the social worker or probation officer must respond to factors that contributed to the child or nonminor dependent running away in subsequent placements, to the extent possible.

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: Wel. & Inst. Code § 16501.35

When a child is missing from foster care, the social worker or probation officer must do the following:

  • Determine the child's or nonminor dependent's experiences while absent from care
  • Determine whether the child or nonminor dependent is a possible victim of commercial sexual exploitation

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

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