Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - Nebraska

Date:

Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: DCFS Prot. & Safety Proc. #29-2017

In policy: The Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) believes that specific steps need to be taken to locate missing youth and ensure their safety.

When a CFS specialist is unable to locate a youth or believes that a youth is missing, the specialist will do the following:

  • Contact local law enforcement immediately to provide the following information:
    • The child's full name; date of birth; Social Security number; gender, height, and weight; and race/ethnicity
    • A physical description of the child, including tattoos, piercings, body markings, and what the youth was last wearing
    • The date, time, and location where the youth was last seen
    • The names of the last persons who may have seen the youth
    • Information about the youth's general health, any medical conditions or concerns, and current necessary medication use
    • Recent changes in the youth's behavior
    • Information on whether the youth is at risk of possible sex trafficking (i.e., past history, association with certain people, suspected parental involvement)
    • Information regarding any individuals who have shown unusual attention or interest in the youth
    • Information about any social media accounts the youth may have
    • The youth's phone number
  • Verify with law enforcement that the youth's information has been entered into the National Crime Information Center
  • Report the missing youth immediately to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
  • Document that NCMEC was notified and include the date of notification, the name of the assigned case manager, and the associated report number
  • Notify the youth's guardian ad litem, the county attorney, the parent's attorney, and the court, if applicable

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Admin. Code Title 390, § 11-002.01T; DCFS Prot. & Safety Proc. #29-2017

When a child is determined to have run away, the worker will take the necessary steps to locate and recover the child. The worker will notify law enforcement and the parent and provider, if the child is placed out of the home, as soon as possible.

In policy: When a CFS specialist is unable to locate a youth or believes that a youth is missing, the specialist will do the following:

  • Contact the youth's foster parents, school personnel, friends, work associates, local shelters/at-risk programs/community designated safe places, or any other entity that may have last seen the youth to gather any information they may know about the missing youth
  • Notify the youth's parents (if rights are intact) that the youth is missing and inquire if the parents know where the youth may be located
  • Obtain written parental consent (if rights are intact) to use the youth's picture for the purposes of a missing youth poster through the Nebraska Missing Person's Clearinghouse and NCMEC
  • Maintain active ongoing contact with the missing youth's parents (if parental rights are intact) until the youth is located
  • Maintain active ongoing contact with law enforcement until the youth is located
  • Contact the youth's school, friends and family of the youth, professionals who have worked with the youth, the youth's place of employment, and the youth's social media sites and phone to show ongoing active efforts to locate the youth

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

Citation: DCFS Prot. & Safety Proc. #29-2017

When the child is located, the CFS specialist will discuss with the youth and the placement provider the reasons the youth was missing and plan actions to prevent future episodes of the youth going missing from care.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

Citation: Admin. Code Title 390, § 11-002.01T

When the child is located, the worker should determine the child€™s current status and future placement and services.

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: DCFS Prot. & Safety Proc. #29-2017

When a CFS specialist is notified that the youth has been located, the specialist will do the following:

  • Determine the youth's need for medical attention or a mental health or substance use screening
  • Ensure the youth feels safe, comfortable, and cared about
  • Notify law enforcement, NCMEC, and all other agencies assisting in the search for the youth
  • Notify the youth's parents (if parental rights are intact), the guardian ad litem, the county attorney, the parent's attorney, and the court

Through discussion with the youth, the specialist will determine the experiences the youth had while missing from care. The specialist will utilize the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force Screening Tool to determine if the youth is a possible victim of human trafficking while missing from care.

When the specialist has concerns that the youth may be involved in or a victim of sex trafficking, the specialist will do the following:

  • Consult with the CFS supervisor, CFS administrator, and the service area administrator
  • Contact the abuse and neglect hotline to make a report, as a 'law enforcement only' report, unless there are allegations that a parent or caregiver has involved the youth in human trafficking and an initial assessment is necessary
  • Contact the Child Advocacy Center for a forensic interview for the youth
  • Contact and utilize the Salvation Army Trafficking Specialists for case consultation and additional resources such as the following:
    • Victim advocacy
    • Housing, shelter, food, and transportation
    • Literacy, job training, life skills, and employment
    • Medical care and dental care and mental health treatment
    • Law enforcement coordination
    • Interpretation, translation, and immigration
    • Substance abuse assessment and treatment
    • Legal services
    • General educational development preparation

The hotline will notify law enforcement immediately.

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

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