Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - New Jersey

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Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: Dept. of Children & Fam. Pol. Man., CP&P-VIII-E-2-100

From the policy manual: If a child for whom the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P) is responsible is reported as runaway or missing, CP&P must do the following:

  • Contact the police to file a missing person report
  • Provide to the police any known information regarding life-threatening medication the child is on
  • Determine if the police have any information regarding the child's current whereabouts

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Dept. of Children & Fam. Pol. Man., CP&P-VIII-E-2-100

If a child runs away while residing in a CP&P-supported living arrangement, the caseworker must notify the parent that the child has run away and keep him or her advised of the situation.

If a child is receiving CP&P services under a court order, the caseworker must notify the court in writing that the child has run away.

Location efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Contacting relatives and friends
  • Consulting the deputy attorney general (DAG) to determine whether court intervention is appropriate
  • Checking the last known address and inquiring if the neighbors and/or the landlord have information, when appropriate
  • Inquiring at child€™s last place of employment, if appropriate
  • Contacting the probation and/or parole departments, if appropriate

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

Citation: Dept. of Children & Fam. Pol. Man., CP&P-VIII-E-2-100

Upon the return of a runaway child for whom CP&P is responsible, CP&P must contact the child's parent to determine the reason the child ran away.

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: Dept. of Children & Fam. Pol. Man., CP&P-VIII-E-2-100

Whenever a local office receives a referral indicating that a runaway child has been located, the following are determined:

  • The child's principal place of residence
  • The legal status of the child (e.g., whether the child is a delinquent currently under the court's jurisdiction)
  • Whether the child is under the supervision of CP&P and, if so, which office supervises the child
  • Whether the child is under the supervision of any other social services agency
  • Whether the child's parent or guardian has been contacted

Upon the return of a runaway child for whom CP&P is responsible, CP&P shall do the following:

  • Determine which local office is responsible for the child's return and/or the responsibilities of other local offices or other agencies involved with the child
  • Contact the child's parent to determine the following:

    • The parent's willingness and ability to arrange and pay for the child's return
    • The need for services, what specific services are needed, and the plan for the child
    • The parent's willingness to consent to any needed services

    Determine that placement is necessary and obtain a court order to authorize out-of-home placement

  • Determine that services are needed and complete a case plan assessment, signed by the parent or guardian

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

Citation: Dept. of Children & Fam. Pol. Man., CP&P-VIII-E-2-100 From the policy manual: If a child for whom the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P) is responsible is reported as runaway or missing, CP&P must do the following: €¢ Contact the police to

If a child is receiving CP&P services under a court order, CP&P will terminate the case if the child is not located in 6 months, unless the case is in litigation. For cases in active litigation, the caseworker must consult the DAG regarding how long to maintain the litigation and/or warrant before termination. The caseworker must send written notification within 30 days of termination to all involved persons, agencies, and courts.

If a standing court order is applicable to the child, prior notification of the court is necessary for termination.

If a child age 16 or older is under the guardianship of CP&P and remains missing for 6 months, a recommendation for discharge of the child from guardianship may be made to the local office manager. If it is decided by the local office manager that the case remains open, renewed efforts to locate the child must occur every 3 months until the child is located, the child reaches age 18, or a recommendation is approved to discharge the child from guardianship.