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1 Locating Missing Children: Floridas Approach Task Force on Child Protection Brief August 3, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Locating Missing Children: Floridas Approach Task Force on Child Protection Brief August 3, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Locating Missing Children: Floridas Approach Task Force on Child Protection Brief August 3, 2007

2 2 Overview of Brief n History: –The Governors Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Protection –Operation SafeKids –Findings and Recommendations –Before and After Rilya Wilson n Current Status: Children Reported Missing from Care/Supervision n Current Child Location Process –Process Overview: Reporting, Recovery, Prevention and Stabilization n Management of the Child Location Process –Child Location Points of Contact –Role of the Central Office Child Location Unit Question and Answer

3 3 History Blue Ribbon Panel April 25, 2002: The Florida Department of Children and Families revealed that 5- year-old Rilya Wilson had disappeared 15 months earlier from her custodial home. n May 6, 2002: Governor Bush appointed a four-member panel to investigate with a focus on: –the safety of children in the child welfare system; – the oversight and accountability within the Department. n May 28, 2002: Report to Governor from the Blue Ribbon Panel with findings and recommendations that addressed the larger child welfare system. n The Department developed, implemented and tracked a comprehensive action plan in response to the Blue Ribbon Panels findings and recommendations.

4 4 History Operation SafeKids n Fall of 2002: Governor Bush initiated Operation SafeKids that established a partnership with the Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and local law enforcement to: –Locate 393 children under the supervision of the Department that were unaccounted for on August 23, 2002; The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, The Department, Local Law Enforcement, the Department of Juvenile Justice and key service providers served on Regional Child Location Strike Forces throughout the state. –Make recommendations for improvement to enhance accountability and improve child recovery. n The Operation resulted in thirty-five findings and recommendations related to improving the reporting of missing children and child location and recovery.

5 5 Blue Ribbon Panel Major Findings and Recommendations n Recommendations to Governor Bush and the Department were categorized in four ways: –Immediate priorities; –Longer-range priorities –Florida Legislature –Rationale for recommendations n Immediate Priorities –Reporting a child missing to law enforcement and the improper use of pick-up orders –Visitation: required frequency and documentation –Criminal checks for placements –Guardians Ad Litem for every child –Equipment: laptops for Child Abuse Investigators and LiveScan machines –Requirement to take photos and collect fingerprints n Longer-Term Priorities –Accreditation of Department core functions by national organizations –Align case worker job description with national standards and develop child welfare specialist certification

6 6 Blue Ribbon Panel Major Findings and Recommendations n Longer-Term Priorities –Home Safenet Implementation statewide –Almost instant Hotline access for calling in English, Spanish, Creole –Medical information shared with foster parent/caregivers –Review and revise policies and procedures to focus on prevention of abuse and neglect –Develop polices around the placement of children with caregivers who have positive criminal back-ground checks and complete background checks on all caregivers subsequent to legislative changes and appropriation –Department and Legislature to develop performance measures that accurately reflect outcomes within the control of the Department –Fully support Foster Care Review Panels –Recruit more pro bono attorneys –District 11 and law enforcement co-locate.

7 7 Blue Ribbon Panel Major Findings and Recommendations n Priorities for the Legislature –Fully fund the guardian ad litem program –Devote more money to proven prevention programs and fully fund Healthy Families –Establish an estimating conference that clearly delineates funding streams based on numbers of children, not cases –Fund and supervise community-based care adequately: The Department should analyze its capacity to support its field operations and community bases providers with quality-assurance, quality-monitoring and fiscal staff. –Provide the Department Secretary with quick-response mechanism to shift appropriated funds –Meritorious and comparable pay for case workers and supervisors, effective management of under performers –Commitment to address high staff and foster parent turn-over –All children age 5 enroll in kindergarten –Develop expedient rule-making process

8 8 Operation SafeKids Major Findings and Recommendations n Regional Strike Force teams were formed in each of the Florida Department of Law Enforcements seven regions that consisted of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agents, Public Assistance Fraud investigators, Department personnel, local law enforcement, Department of Juvenile Justice, and support staff. n 290 of the 393 children had been located through the efforts of the Strike Forces. n The Strike Forces identified 35 findings and recommendations divided into five categories: –Reporting and Investigating Missing Children Cases; –Public Awareness and Outreach; –Recovery; –Prevention; –Legislative Proposals

9 9 Operation SafeKids Major Findings and Recommendations n Reporting and Investigating Missing Children Cases –Twenty findings were made related to the way children are reported missing and –efforts are made to locate and recover them –Recommendations addressed the following general areas: Revising and streamlining the reporting process to reduce time and errors Improve communication with local law enforcement and the Department by establishing Department points of contact at the local level Improve coordination of reporting, location and recovery efforts between the Department and local law enforcement Clarify the overuse of pick-up orders and the reporting process for children involved with Department of Juvenile Justice with warrants and the Department with missing child reports Share information among agencies to assist in locating missing children Clarify policies for local law enforcement to accept missing child reports

10 10 Rilya Wilson: Before and After n Before Rilya Wilson –No standardized procedure on how to respond when a child went missing from state care –No requirement to report a child as missing to local and stated law enforcement –No ability to identify which children were considered missing from state ordered care n After Rilya Wilson –Department Operating Procedure 175-85 & Florida Administrative Code 65C- 30.019: Established uniform procedures for the timely reporting of a missing child, ongoing location and recovery efforts, and stabilization and prevention efforts. Children determined to be missing from state care are required to be reported to local and state law enforcement – The Rilya Wilson Act (Ch. 39.604, F.S.): Passed in 2005 to ensure children age 3 years to school entry and under court ordered protective supervision or in the custody of the Department or a community-based lead agency attend a licensed early education or childcare program five days a week, unless an exemption is granted by the court. The Act established attendance and reporting requirements to monitor the attendance and whereabouts of these children.

11 11 Rilya Wilson: Before and After n After Rilya Wilson –Modified Florida Statute Chapter 39 (Ch. 39.301(23), F.S.): Passed in 2006 to allow a child who is the subject of an active abuse investigation to be reported as missing to local law enforcement if the parent or legal guardian fails to report the child as missing or the parent or legal guardian cause the child to move, or allows the child to be moved without notifying the protective investigator within 2 business days. Local law enforcement has the discretion to accept these missing child reports or not because the parent is considered the legal custodian of the child. –Web based Missing Child Tracking System (MCTS): Developed and implemented in September 2002 to allow real-time tracking of children reported as missing from care and to electronically report missing children to state law enforcement. The Department Missing Child Tracking System documents, tracks and transfer all children entered as missing from state care/supervision to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Missing Children Information Clearinghouse Florida is only one of a few states that track children missing from state care on a daily basis.

12 12 Rilya Wilson: Before and After n After Rilya Wilson –Local Child Location Points of Contact: The Department/community base care providers established local child location points of contact to oversee and manage the reporting, location, recovery and prevention and stabilization process at the local level. –Department Central Office Child Location Unit: –Located in Tallahassee at the Central Office within Operations. –Created three full-time positions in the Department Central office, with one position co- located full-time at Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Missing Children Information Clearinghouse. –Collaborates with state law enforcement and local child location points of contact in the reporting and location of missing children.

13 13 Current Status Children Reported Missing from State Care & Supervision n Approximently 600 children are categorized as missing from state care or supervision on any given day: n Approximately 90% of these active missing child incidents are categorized as runaways. n 10% a of all active missing child entries are categorized as parentally abducted or endangered. n Endangered and parentally abducted children are generally under the age of 12. n 67% of children/youth reported missing from care are females. n 76% of children/youth reported missing from care involve those between the ages of 15 - 17. n Approximately 45% of all missing child incidents will be resolved with the child being located within 3 days. n In Florida, the percentage of children classified as missing from state care is from 1.1% to 1.5% on any given day. n Nationally, the expected percentage of children classified as missing from state care is approximently 2% on any given day.

14 14 Child Location Process

15 15 Child Location Process: Identify n Caregiver –Through contact with the child when the child went missing n Case Manager –Through contact with the child when the child went missing –Through 30 day visitation requirement n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Through child appearing as not being seen on the Departments daily/monthly visitation reports –Through child having an unapproved missing child alert in the Florida Safe Families Network database –Through the generation of a hard copy or electronic missing child incident report –Through notification by caregiver/case manager n Note: See Appendix A for detailed guidelines on how children are defined as missing

16 16 Child Location Process: Identify Central Office Child Location Unit –Through child appearing as not being seen on the Departments daily/monthly visitation reports –Through child having an unapproved missing child alert in the Florida Safe Families Network database –Through notification by the community base care provider/Department Child Location Point of Contact –Through a child having a new missing child report within the Florida Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center system On a daily basis, cases being closed within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System are checked against Florida Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center to see if local law enforcement has entered a new missing child entry for a child that has not been documented with the Departments Missing Child Tracking System

17 17 Child Location Process: Report n Caregiver –Reports child as missing to local law enforcement When local law enforcement is contacted depends on the circumstance of the individual case, such as the age or immanent risk of the child Please see definitions Appendix A for more detail n Case Manager –Reports child as missing to local law enforcement When local law enforcement is contacted depends on the circumstance of the individual case Please see definitions Appendix A for more detail –Documents event within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System Who enters a missing child episode into the Departments Missing Child Tracking System is dependent on Community Based Care/local policy and procedures related to documenting missing child episodes n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Documents event within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System Who enters a missing child episode into the Departments Missing Child Tracking System is dependant on Community Based Care/local policy and procedures related to documenting missing child episodes –Approves missing child episode within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System for transmission the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for case opening –Provides technical assistance related to reporting a child as missing to local law enforcement to field level personnel

18 18 Child Location Process: Report n Department Local Child Location Point of Contact –Provides technical assistance related to reporting a child as missing to local law enforcement to field level personnel n Central Office Child Location Unit –Transmits entered and approved missing child cases within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System that also have active missing child cases entered into the Florida Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Missing Child Information Clearinghouse All missing child entries into the Florida Crime Information Ccnter/National Crime Information Center system are made by local law enforcement –Provides technical assistance related to reporting a child as missing to local law enforcement to field level personnel and community based care Child Location Points of Contact

19 19 Child Location Process: Locate n Caregiver –Provides initial information on the child to local law enforcement that may help them in locating the child n Case Manager –Provides initial and long term information on the child to local law enforcement that may help them in locating the child –Conducts weekly child location efforts for the first three months that the child is missing. After three months child location efforts are conducted monthly until the child is located or until the social services case is closed by the courts n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Provides technical assistance related to child location efforts to field level personnel –Serves as a liaison between social services personnel and local law enforcement so as to ensure that information related to the missing child case is being communicated to local law enforcement n DCF Region/Zone/District Child Location Point of Contact –Provides technical assistance related to child location efforts to field level personnel –Serves as a liaison between social services personnel and local law enforcement so as to ensure that information related to the missing child case is being communicated to local law enforcement

20 20 Child Location Process: Locate n Department Region Child Location Point of Contact –Provides technical assistance related to recovering a child to field level personnel –Serves as a liaison between social services personnel and local law enforcement so as to ensure that recovery efforts are coordinated across agencies n Central Office Child Location Unit –Provides technical assistance related to child location efforts to field level personnel and local Child Location Points of Contact –Serves as a liaison between social services personnel and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited so as to ensure that information related to the missing child case is being communicated to state and federal missing child clearinghouses Note: Local law enforcement to conduct investigative efforts to locate the child

21 21 Child Location Process: Recover n Caregiver –Notifies case manager and local law enforcement of the return of a missing child When child returns to the placement on their own accord When the caregiver is the person who recovers the child n Case Manager –Notifies local law enforcement of the return of a missing child When child returns to the case worker on their own accord When the case worker is the person who recovers the child –Coordinates the return of a missing child from the law enforcement agency that located the child When law enforcement recovers the child –Documents the recovery of the child within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System Who enters missing child recovery information into the Departments Missing Child Tracking System depends on Community Based Care/local policy and procedures related to documenting missing child episodes

22 22 Child Location Process: Recover n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Documents the recovery of the child within the departments Missing Child Tracking System (local policy dependant) –Provides technical assistance related to recovering a child to field level personnel –Serves as a liaison between social services personnel and local law enforcement so as to ensure that recovery efforts are coordinated across agencies n Central Office Child Location Unit –Reviews missing child cases that have been resolved within the Departments Missing Child Tracking System to ensure that these cases have been resolved in the Florida Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center (FCIC/NCIC) database. –Cases that have been removed from FCIC/NCIC are then transmitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for case closure with the FDLE. All missing child removals from the FCIC/NCIC system are made by local law enforcement –Provides technical assistance related to recovering a missing child to field level personnel and local Child Location Points of Contact

23 23 Child Location Process: Recover n Caregiver –Provide missing children who have returned with a supportive and loving home environment –Work with the case manager to ensure that the childs immediate and long term needs are being met n Case Manager –Debrief the child within 24 hours of the childs return (Florida Administrative Rule 65C 30.019) –Identify core issues that may be causing a child to go missing from care and provide appropriate services that attempt to address any issues that the child might be having –Communicate with the child to ensure that the the childs immediate and long term needs are clearly understood n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Provide technical assistance related to child stabilization to field level personnel n DCF Region/Zone/District Child Location Point of Contact –Provide technical assistance related to child stabilization to field level personnel n Central Office Child Location Unit –Provide technical assistance related to child stabilization efforts to field level personnel and Child Location Points of Contact

24 24 Child Location Process: Stabilize n Caregiver –Provide the child with a supportive and loving home environment –Communicate with child on a daily basis and inform the case managers of concerns behavior changes immediately –Have a plan as to what the child should do if they are unable to get home at a scheduled time or what they should do if they miss their ride or become locked out of the house, etc… –Work with the child and case manager to establishing a workable normalcy plan that details what appropriate unsupervised activities the child can participate in (going to the mall with friends, spending the night at a friends house, etc…) n Case Manager –Ensure that the child is placed in a quality home and that appropriate services that meet the immediate and long term needs of the child are being delivered in a timely and consistent manner –Communicate with the child, caregiver, school teachers, guardian ad litem, on a routine basis in an effort to identify any possible problems that the child might be having and make efforts to address any new possible problems quickly –Work with the child and caregiver to establish a workable normalcy plan that details what appropriate unsupervised activities the child can participate in (going to the mall with friends, spending the night at a friends house, etc…) –The case worker, in coordination with other professionals such as guardians ad litem, mental health case managers and providers, school social workers, is the key individual with the most opportunity to ensure children and youth are assessed for services and support needs and that those needs are provided.

25 25 Child Location Process: Prevent n CBC Child Location Point of Contact –Provide technical assistance related to missing child prevention efforts to field level personnel –Encourage/facilitate child specific meetings with relevant persons in the childs life and child, when appropriate, to determine service and support needs, ensure they are provided and monitor the childs progress. n Department Region Child Location Point of Contact –Provide technical assistance related to missing child prevention efforts to field level personnel n Central Office Child Location Unit –Provide technical assistance related to missing child prevention efforts to field level personnel and Child Location Points of Contact

26 26 Management of the Child Location Process Child Location Points of Contact n The Department Child Location Unit/Central Office: –One staff co-located full-time at the Florida Department of law Enforcement who manages the Statewide Missing Child Tracking System on a daily basis; –Two staff located at Department Operations that manage the performance measure, ad hoc projects, generate and monitor visitation reports, address policy issues, coordinate with internal and external partners, stakeholders and co-workers, provide training/technical assistance to Local Points of Contact and local law enforcement; –One person directly supervises the 3 child location staff and directs and oversees child location efforts. n Local Child Location Points of Contact (CBC Providers): –Serve as the child location point person for local law enforcement, the Department at the local and central office levels, and FDLE; –Complete activities to ensure children are reported missing and recovered quickly; –Serves as a point person for lead and sub-contracted community based care agencies n Department Region Child Location Points of Contact: –Serve as point of contact for DCF Missing Children Unit and CBC providers; –Assist in problem-solving child specific issues, CBC performance concerns and process and system of care issues related to missing children.

27 27 Management of the Child Location Process Changes n Historical Changes –The Child Location Points of Contact positions were initially located at the district level and held by Department personnel. –Transition of the Child Location Points of Contact positions and daily functions related to child location began transition from the Department to the community based care providers began in 2004 and concluded in March of 2007. Child Location Points of Contact were identified at the district/Region level to provide administrative oversight and technical assistance to the community based care provider Child Location Points of Contact. n Pending Changes: Additional Department Child Location Resources –Regional Child Location Specialists: Five new position will be added, one for each region. They will primarily be responsible for enhancing the coordination and communication on missing children issues within our States criminal justice system, particularly at the local level and with our community based care providers. –Director of Criminal Justice Services: will serve as the lead contact for the Department in matters relating to law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, and the courts.

28 28 Management of the Child Location Process Major Activities n Coordination –Maintain the Missing Child Tracking System and synchronizes data to internal (HomeSafe net) and external data (Florida Crime Information Center/National Crime Information Center) sources on a daily basis –Notices sent to local Child Location Points of Contacts on issues with reporting on a daily basis n Collaboration –Quarterly statewide Child Location Conference Calls with Local Child Location points of contact –Statewide workshop held November of 2006 related to preventing youth from running from care and stabilizing them when they return –Monthly meetings with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Missing Children Information Clearinghouse –Ad hoc internal and external work groups to address issues as they arise n Training, Support and Technical Assistance –On-going communication with Local Points of Contact and on the process and child-specific cases and on-site training offered and provided when requested –Developed and widely distributed a guide that provides step by step instructions to caregivers, case managers, Child Location points of Contact and others involved in the reporting, location, recovery and stabilization of missing children. n Performance Analysis –Lead on the children location performance measure: Family Safety 108 Average Daily Rate of Children Missing from Care per 1,00 Children In-Home and Out-of-Home Care

29 29 Management of the Child Location Process Current Challenges and Actions to Address n Preventing youth from running from care and stabilizing them when they return –Multiple efforts in motion to address normalcy, improve the quality of care for teens and increase inclusion of the youth in decision making n Developing and maintaining partnerships at the state and local levels that identify and problem-solve issues in a coordinated, agile and innovative manner –Many local communities have established or in the process of establishing community based groups to meet and address issues related to child location –The Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Missing Children Information Clearinghouse coordinate closely and encourage close coordination between local law enforcement, community based care providers and the Department at the local level –Approach to addressing missing children, especially youth who run from care, is moving more toward a system of care approach

30 30 Management of the Child Location Process Current Challenges and Actions to Address n Systematically collecting, storing and transferring fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Missing Children Information Clearinghouse on all children reported as missing from the care and supervision of the Department –Exploring options with Florida Department of Law Enforcement n Reporting children to local law enforcement who go missing while under an open child abuse investigation or under court ordered supervision. –The Senate Committee on Children, Adult and Elder Affairs has accepted this issue as an interim project and is considering the need for additional legislation to : clarify the responsibilities of local law enforcement to accept missing children reports on these children; clarify the case work responsibilities of the Department, community based care providers and Sheriff's offices related to child location

31 31 Appendix A n Children under the age or twelve or child is missing and is believed to be at immediate risk –Child is under the age of 12 –Child's whereabouts are unknown –Child of any age is believed to be at immediate risk due to the nature of the missing child episode or additional risk factors are present Child is believed to have been abducted Child has not gone missing in the past Child has a preexisting medical condition that place Child is believed to be suicidal –These type of missing children should be considered to be missing immediately upon learning that the childs whereabouts are unknown –Local law enforcement should be contacted immediately for the purposes of reporting the child as missing

32 32 Appendix A Missing Children Defined n Children under the age or twelve or child is missing and is believed to be at immediate risk –Child is under the age of 12 –Child's whereabouts are unknown –Child of any age is believed to be at immediate risk due to the nature of the missing child episode or additional risk factors are present Child is believed to have been abducted Child has not gone missing in the past Child has a preexisting medical condition that place Child is believed to be suicidal –These type of missing children should be considered to be missing immediately upon learning that the childs whereabouts are unknown –Local law enforcement should be contacted immediately for the purposes of reporting the child as missing

33 33 Appendix A Missing Children Defined n Children age 12 or older where the child is missing and that child is believed to not be at immediate risk –Child is age 12 or older –Childs whereabouts become unknown –No additional risk factors that may place the child at high degree of risk are believed to present –Care giver/case manager should take take four (4) hours from the time that it was learned that the child was missing to conduct initial child location efforts Calling friends and family Checking with school Contact employers Check areas the child is known to frequent –If initial child location efforts are unsuccessful after four (4) hours the child should be considered missing –Local law enforcement should be contacted after four (4) hours for the purposes of reporting the child as missing


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