More often than not, children who end up under the care of social service agencies have some form of emotional damage. This may cause some of them to act out and run away. Seeing that the community and the people caring for them go out of their way to find and recover them is one way to convey that they are important. It is also imperative to extend support and compassion to them so they feel loved. In 2017 alone, there were more than 27,000 missing child cases – mostly endangered runaways who were under the care of social services when they went missing.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is one of the trailblazers when it comes to the issue of missing children and young adults. Leemie Kahng–Sofer from NCMEC is today’s resource speaker to talk about federal legislation impacting missing children and NCMEC resources.
Leemie is a Program Manager for the Missing Children Division of NCMEC and her responsibilities include case management and various programs related to children missing from care and child sex trafficking. Leemie explained various topics related to missing children including:
- The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) that aims to report cases of sex trafficking, locate, and respond to children who run away from foster care.
- H.R. 4980 mandates upon being signed into law that protocols are developed to immediately locate a child missing from foster care and a report management system is implemented.
- The NCMEC H.R. 4980 initiatives that created a microsite with an online reporting form, provides resources and assistance, and policy recommendations that may be used as a reference by local agencies.
- The legal definition of a missing child and the two case classifications where:
- Critical and Runaway Unit involves non-family abduction, lost, injured or otherwise missing (LIM) children, endangered runaways, and missing young adults.
- Family Abduction Unit where children were taken by family members usually in violation of a custody order.
- Topline statistics on the missing child issue that illustrates how a huge chunk of missing children are runaways from foster care.
- Some frequently asked questions about the steps and requirements when it comes to reporting a missing child.
- The three NCMEC reporting mechanisms that people and law enforcement can utilize: call center, system to system reporting, and the online microsite.
- The basic intake information that must be provided when making a missing child report, and other details like phone number, social media activity, aliases and vehicle tag information that can be used to trace a missing child/youth’s whereabouts.
- NCMEC’s tools and resources in missing child cases that includes photo distribution, running case analysis reports, victim services support and if necessary, federal partners.
- Recovery information that must be documented like details of the recovery, companion/suspect information, marks like tattoos and scars, and a photograph for file in case the child runs away again.
- Other resources that may be tapped in the event of a missing child case as the CyberTipline, and the Team Adam and Project ALERT volunteers and consultants.
- Strategies in place when dealing with missing children with autism.
- Technical resources utilized for long-term cases like age progression and facial reconstruction techniques, the NamUs database, and biometrics.
- Case studies of a long-term missing foster care child and an international case that required liaising with the FBI and consulate.
- Poll questions checked if the webinar attendees are familiar with the H.R. 4980 and NCMEC, and if they have ever worked with NCMEC on a missing child case before.
- Q&A covered audience’s concerns related to:
- Resources for a specific case of an endangered runaway who’s a victim of sex trafficking
- Where to send tips and how agencies coordinate if a missing child is traced outside the original investigating agency
- Reporting cases as a Juvenile Probation Officer
- Implementing the federal legislation locally
Resources from the Presentation