Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - Idaho

Date:

Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: Standard for Responding to and Reporting on Runaway Youth

In policy: In no case later than 24 hours after receiving information on missing or abducted children or youth, State child welfare agencies are required to report to law enforcement 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 (NCMEC).

If a child in the custody of the Department of Child and Family Services (CFS) runs away, or is discovered to be missing from care and the child's whereabouts are unknown, the child's worker must notify the following parties:

  • Immediately:
    • Local law enforcement
    • The child's birth parents, unless they cannot be found or parental rights have been terminated
  • Within 24 hours:
    • The child's attorney and guardian ad litem
    • NCMEC at the 24-hour call center: 1-800-THE LOST (1-800-843-5678) or at http://cmfc.missingkids.org and obtain a reference number
    • The child's probation or parole officer, if the child is involved with juvenile probation or the Idaho Department Juvenile Corrections

If the worker believes that a child has unwillingly left foster care or has been removed by an unauthorized person, the CFS social worker will request that the child be placed on the Amber Alert system when making the report to law enforcement. Local law enforcement officials will work with CFS to decide if Amber Alert criteria are met and will activate the Amber Alert network, if appropriate.

No later than the next business day from when the child was reported missing, the CFS social worker must follow up with NCMEC at the 24-hour call center. The CFS social worker must remain in contact with law enforcement and NCMEC (if applicable) on a weekly basis until the child is located.

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Standard for Responding to and Reporting on Runaway Youth

The purpose of this standard is to provide direction and guidance to CFS programs regarding reporting and responding requirements for runaway youth and missing youth. This standard is intended to achieve statewide consistency in the development and application of CFS core services and will be implemented in the context of all-applicable laws, rules, and policies. State child welfare agencies are required to develop and implement specific protocols for expeditiously locating any child missing from foster care.

The CFS social worker must continue ongoing efforts to locate any child missing from placement and must actively search for the child until the child is found. Ongoing efforts may include the following:

  • Contacting relatives and friends
  • Utilizing social media
  • Contacting schools and community programs in which the child may have participated

When a child is missing and/or is known to be on the run, a critical incident report must be completed. In addition, the CFS social worker must document all efforts to locate the child on a weekly basis until the child is located.

When information is received regarding the possible location of a missing child, the CFS social worker must staff the case with a supervisor immediately. The supervisor will assist in determining the most appropriate course of action in order to assess the child's safety.

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

Citation: Standard for Responding to and Reporting on Runaway Youth

State child welfare agencies are required to determine the primary factors that contributed to the child's running away or otherwise being absent from care and, to the extent possible and appropriate, respond to those factors in current and subsequent placements.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

Citation: Standard for Responding to and Reporting on Runaway Youth

When a missing child has returned to care, the CFS social worker must interview the child as soon as appropriate to determine the reasons why the child ran away or was absent from care. If the interview identifies reasons why the child ran away or was absent from care, the CFS social worker must, to the extent possible, address those factors in the child's current and future placements.

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: Standard for Responding to and Reporting on Runaway Youth

If a child in CFS custody returns to foster care after being reported to law enforcement as a runaway or missing person, the child's CFS social worker will ensure the appropriate law enforcement officials are notified immediately, but no later than 24 hours from when the CFS social worker was notified of the child's return to foster care. If the child has been placed on the Amber Alert system, the CFS social worker shall notify law enforcement officials within 1 hour of the child's return.

No later than 24 hours from when the child returns to foster care, the child's CFS social worker must do the following:

  • Update the critical incident report
  • Notify the child's attorney and the guardian ad litem
  • Notify the child's parents, unless they cannot be found or have had their parental rights terminated
  • Notify NCMEC
  • Notify the child's probation or parole officer, if appropriate

The CFS social worker must interview the child as soon as appropriate to determine the following:

  • The reasons why the child ran away or was absent from care
  • The child's experiences while absent, including screening to determine if the child was a sex or labor trafficking victim

If the child indicates or reports to the caseworker or a caregiver that he or she was of a victim of any crime, including being a child victim of human trafficking, the CFS social worker must report the information to law enforcement immediately, but no later than 24 hours.

Foster youth who run away or are abducted are at a higher risk of being child victims of human trafficking. For this reason, all youth who experienced a runaway episode or abduction must be screened for human trafficking upon their return.

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

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