Webinar presenter Caroline Teague answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Domestic & International Family Abductions: NCMEC Resources Part 1. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Are there any states whose courts do not comply with the requirements of the kidnapping prevention act that you mentioned?
Caroline Teague: We have seen cases where there are courts, I don’t know any specific states on the top of my head. That won’t actually enforce out of state orders if they won’t follow the registration process. Again every state varies, really every court will be very different for that parent to navigate through. That is one of the roadblocks that they may face is they may have that out of state order. They’re trying to follow the proper channels of having another state register and enforce it and they do run into that issue. I don’t know any specific states but I do know that does happen.
Audience Question: What happens if the child is abducted before the abducting parent has been served with notice of custody?
Caroline Teague: We see that a number of times. The question being that there isn’t any court order in place at the time, correct, and they haven’t been served yet? We see a number of those cases. We actually have seen that hold up a case if law enforcement doesn’t believe that the parent has been properly served. There are other avenues where even if you haven’t been able to serve that parent in person, some courts will allow you to do alternative forms of service if they run an ad in the local newspaper and that provides another avenue for a court to actually consider that this parent has been properly served. You can get assistance even if that parent hasn’t been served with a court order.
Audience Question: I would appreciate some discussion around UCCJEA and enforcement, particularly around the practice of LEOs to require a court in a different state to enroll judgment before LEO involvement. Can you speak to that?
Caroline Teague: Specifically about the UCCJEA? That would be maybe a question for our legal team specifically about that. I can definitely take that person’s question and pass that on to our legal team.
Audience Question: What is the law or the citation for the law that states that social services agencies must report to law enforcement and law enforcement take the report in terms of how is NCMEC notified in this whole process?
Caroline Teague: That citation I believe is HR 4980. That was legislation that was passed 2014 and states had about two years to comply. So from 2014 to 2016. That HR 4980 that’s the code for that. I’m sorry, the second part of the question?
Audience Question: How is NCMEC notified in that process when social services agencies are reporting to law enforcement and law enforcement takes the report. How is NCMEC in the middle of that?
Caroline Teague: That actually falls on the social services agency to report directly to NCMEC. If they report to law enforcement they would then also have to report it to us. That can be done through that web portal that I mentioned. They can do that directly through the website and it does streamline the process a bit.
Audience Question: Can you clarify for us what’s the definition again of ‘long-term’ when you’re talking again about missing kids. What’s that timeframe look like?
Caroline Teague: We would really consider long-term anything six months or longer. When we are talking about we will classify a long-term as well a case that has been 3, 4, 5 years. We’ve had a long-term that are many years old. Specifically, by 6 months that’s usually when we start to consider the long-term case.
Audience Question: What’s the average length of time a child is missing in a family abduction case? If you want kind of break that into there’s the regular term and there’s the long term. What’s the average time frame looks like?
Caroline Teague: I would be just kind of giving it a rough estimate. It really depends and I have to go back amongst through our data but we’ve had cases that last maybe a couple of months and they go as long as several years. I would just be kind of averaging if I gave a number. If that’s needed, I can definitely follow up as well
Audience Question: Searching for a child has to be incredibly emotionally taxing. I know you had that video at the very end about the support organization. What does NCMEC support that family during their search emotionally and then afterward with dealing with the trauma or the healing when the child is back. What emotional support services do you have? Can you go into more detail?
Caroline Teague: Team HOPE is I think what I would suggest and say is one of the main resources we have for emotional support. They’re different obviously than what the case manager provides. We are dealing more with kind of the logistical. We are listening, we are providing support but I will say Team HOPE is what provides the most when it comes to emotional support because it’s more peer to peer. You’re talking to someone who’s had a case of a missing child. They can kind of walk alongside you. They will recap for the parents during the length of the case and check in with them seeing if they are doing self-care. Do they have a support network near them? They’re open to having that parent reach out to them whenever it’s needed. Our family advocacy again they also provide that emotional support but we also are providing the referrals for the direct services in their area. It’s really a combination of both but I would really emphasize that Team HOPE is more of the emotional support that they can get.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Domestic & International Family Abductions: NCMEC Resources Part 1.