Responding to Youth Missing From Foster Care - New York

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Protocols for Reporting Children Missing From Care to Law Enforcement

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

An authorized agency receiving a report of a child in foster care's absence without consent must report the absence to the local law enforcement agency and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) immediately and in no case later than 24 hours after receiving notice of such absence.

In addition to the above requirement, a social services official must report to law enforcement and to NCMEC immediately, and in no case later than 24 hours of receiving the information, that following categories of children are missing or abducted:

  • A child of a family for which the social services district has an open child protective services or open preventive services case
  • A child or youth who is receiving federally funded independent-living services
  • A child under the supervision of the social services district pursuant to a court order
  • A youth over whom the social services district has supervision responsibilities in accordance with § 430.12(f)(4)(i)(b) of this title

An authorized agency receiving information that a child in foster care or a child for whom the social services district has responsibility has been identified as being a sex trafficking victim, as defined by applicable Federal law, must immediately, and in no case later than 24 hours after receiving such information, report such child to law enforcement.

Information provided to the authorized agency responsible for a child's care that might lead to the location of a child absent without consent from a foster care placement must be transmitted by the authorized agency to the local law enforcement agency within 24 hours after receipt of such information.

Protocols for Locating Children Missing From Care

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

The name of a foster child who is absent without consent from a foster care placement must be reported no later than 24 hours from the time the absence occurs by the foster parent or staff of an agency boarding home, group home, or institution to the authorized agency responsible for supervising the placement of the child.

If the authorized agency receiving the report is a voluntary agency, that agency also must report the child's absence within 24 hours to the social services district that has custody of the child.

An authorized agency receiving a report of a child's absence without consent must report the absence to the child's parents within 24 hours of such absence, unless the parents' parental rights have been terminated or surrendered or the parents cannot be located.

When the family court has approved the foster care placement, the local social services commissioner in whose custody the foster child has been placed must provide written notice to the family court within 48 hours of the reported absence.

When a foster child is reported to an authorized agency as absent without consent, the case manager or case-planning supervisor is responsible for ensuring that diligent efforts are made no later than 72 hours after the report of the absence to contact the following persons for any information concerning the child's location:

  • Members of the child's foster family household or the agency boarding home, group home, or institution where the child was placed
  • Members of the child's birth family and extended family or legal guardian of the child
  • The child's school principal, teachers, or other appropriate staff at the school last attended
  • Close friends of the child, when known
  • Adults known to be working with the child in recreational or educational activities
  • Professional persons involved with the child's development, including, but not limited to, doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, or clinical social workers
  • The administrator or coordinators of the county's runaway and homeless youth services

If a child who is absent without consent cannot be located after conducting the required casework contacts, and the child remains in the custody of the local social services commissioner, the case manager is responsible for ensuring that a continuing effort is made to locate the child. Within each 30-day period following the child's absence, reasonable efforts must be made to obtain information on the child's location as long as the child remains in the custody of the local social services commissioner or until the child is discharged. Sources to be contacted for such information must include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Members of the child's foster family household or the agency boarding home, group home, or institution where the child was placed
  • Members of the child's family and extended family, when known, or the legal guardian of the child
  • The child's school principal, teachers, or other appropriate staff at the school last attended
  • The administrator or coordinators of the county's runaway and homeless youth services
  • The local law enforcement agency

Information gathered must be documented in the progress notes of the uniform case record for a foster child who is absent from a foster care placement. Such information must include persons contacted, dates of those contacts, and information pertaining to the child's absence.

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

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

Whenever a child in foster care is absent without consent, the authorized agency with either case management or case-planning responsibility for the child must determine and document in the child's case record the primary factors that contributed to the child running away or otherwise being absent without consent.

Determining the Suitability of Current and Subsequent Placements

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

Whenever a child in foster care is absent without consent, the authorized agency with either case management or case-planning responsibility for the child must respond to the factors that contributed to the child running away or otherwise being absent without consent in the child's current and subsequent foster care placements.

Assessing the Child's Experiences While Absent From Care

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

When a child is returned or returns voluntarily to foster care after being absent without consent, diligent efforts must be made to provide services to the child that will restore the child to a supportive environment. In addition to providing the foster care services required by this title, an assessment must be made of the child's need for rehabilitative services. Such services may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Remedial educational services
  • Psychological counseling
  • Medical services, in accordance with § 441.22 of this title
  • Drug and alcohol abuse treatment, when available from a public agency

Whenever a child in foster care is absent without consent, the authorized agency with either case management or case-planning responsibility for the child must determine the child's experiences while absent from care, including screening the child as a possible sex trafficking victim, as that term is defined by applicable Federal law.

Timeframes for Closing a Child's Placement After Running Away

Citation: Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 431.8

A child who is absent without consent from a foster care placement and who has been determined to be a runaway must be reported as absent to the system of record, and payment to the authorized agency for the child's foster care must be suspended no later than 7 consecutive calendar days after the child has been absent.

A child placed pursuant to article 3 of the Family Court Act who is absent without consent shall not be eligible for conditional release as set out in § 431.19 solely by reason of such absence. Such child shall have his or her placement interrupted, as provided in § 431.20, or shall be discharged from care, if one of the following events occurs:

  • The local social services commissioner petitions for and the family court grants termination of the local social services commissioner's custody of the child.
  • The court order granting custody of the child to the commissioner expires.
  • The child reaches age 21 or, for a child placed restrictively pursuant to § 353.5 of the Family Court Act for an act committed when the child was age 16 or 17, the child reaches age 23.

A child age 16 or older who is absent without consent from a foster care placement and who cannot be located, or is located and refuses to return after the responsible authorized agency has used diligent efforts for 60 consecutive days, must be discharged from care if one of the following events occurs:

  • The local social services commissioner petitions for and the family court grants termination of the local social services commissioner's custody of the child.
  • The court order granting custody of the child to the commissioner expires.
  • A voluntary placement agreement is revoked by order of the court or by expiration of the agreement.
  • The child reaches age 21.

A child under age 16 who is absent without consent from a foster care placement and who cannot be located after the responsible authorized agency has used diligent efforts for 60 consecutive days must be continued as a case in suspended payment after the child has been absent for 7 consecutive calendar days in accordance with § 628.3 of this title. The child's status must be indicated as absent in the system of record until the child has been located or until one of the following events occurs:

  • The local social services commissioner petitions for and the family court grants termination of the local social services commissioner's custody of the child.
  • The court order granting custody of the child to the commissioner expires.
  • A voluntary placement agreement is revoked by order of the court or by expiration of the agreement.
  • The child reaches age 21.