Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - Illinois

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Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 329.30

Whenever a child for whom the Department of Children and Family Services has legal responsibility is believed to be missing or on runaway or to have been abducted from a placement facility, the caregiver shall report the incident to department casework staff no later than the next business day. If the child is believed to be at risk due to the child's age or degree of vulnerability, the caregiver shall report the incident immediately to the following:

  • Department casework staff, if the incident occurs during normal working hours
  • The State Central Register during after-hours or on weekends

As soon as the child's caseworker learns that a child is missing, the worker shall verbally notify the local police authorities (city police or sheriff's office) and follow their procedures for reporting a missing child that include filing a missing persons report at the police station in the district in which the minor most recently resided. The worker shall provide as much identifying information about the child as possible to police authorities, including a photograph of the child and whether fingerprints are on file with the Illinois State Police.

After the police report has been made, the worker shall file an unusual incident report in accordance with 89 Ill. Adm. Code 331.

In addition to the notification required above, the caseworker also shall notify the following:

  • The child's parents, guardian, or legal custodian
  • The juvenile court of jurisdiction
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Child Find of America

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 329.30

After making the required notifications, the caseworker shall attempt to locate the child by doing the following:

  • Inquiring of the following persons if they have knowledge of the possible location of the child:
    • Past known caregivers who have cared for the child for at least 6 months within the last 2 years or any other caregivers with whom the child is known to have had a close relationship
    • Relatives, including the child's parents
    • Neighbors and landlord of the child's last known address
    • Close friends and classmates of the child, including any known boyfriends or girlfriends
    • Teachers, counselors, and other personnel at the school that the child last attended or at other schools the child attended, if there is knowledge that the child had a close relationship with persons at that school
    • Other staff of the department or purchase of service agency who might have knowledge of the possible location of the minor
  • Reviewing the Public Aid Client Information Systems screen to seek the location of the minor and any other person with whom the caseworker suspects the minor might be living
  • Inquiring of local emergency shelters and homeless youth programs whether they have any information as to the whereabouts of the child
  • Requesting any of the persons contacted above to contact the caseworker if they subsequently receive any information about the child's location

The child's caseworker shall periodically (no less than once per month) check with the local police or appropriate local law enforcement agency on the status of the report. Whenever the caseworker obtains new information that may lead to the whereabouts of the child, the caseworker shall immediately report the information to the local police or appropriate local law enforcement agency.

The caseworker also shall keep the court informed of any changes in the child's status.

At their monthly supervisory meeting, the worker and supervisor shall discuss what is being done to locate the missing child and review what steps are being taken.

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

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 329.40

When a child who has been missing, on runaway, or abducted has been found and returned, the child's caseworker shall conduct a thorough follow-up interview with the child to determine the circumstances behind the child's disappearance.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 329.50

When a child who has been missing, on runaway, or abducted has been found and returned, the child's caseworker shall determine whether the child should be returned to the placement from which the child disappeared or whether a new placement is in the child's best interests. New placements must comply with the requirements of 89 Ill. Adm. Code § 301 (Placement and Visitation Services).

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 329.40

When a child who has been missing, on runaway, or abducted has been found and returned, the child's caseworker shall do the following:

  • Conduct a thorough follow-up interview with the child to determine the circumstances behind the child's disappearance
  • Schedule a medical examination for the child within 24 hours
  • Determine what needs to be done for the resumption of the child's educational program
  • Replace any clothing or personal items the child may need, if these have been lost
  • Inform the police, NCMEC, Child Find of America, and all others who were notified of the absence that the child has been located
  • Complete a report of the incident that can be promptly accessed and reviewed if the child disappears again

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

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