TOPEKA - The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) on Wednesday, Oct. 11, issued more information on the agency’s policies and procedures for handling situations involving missing and runaway children.
The DCF Policy and Procedure Manual (5245) outlines the departments guidelines for handling situations involving children missing from the foster care system. The policy presents clear guidelines for the reporting of a missing child, including the filing of a missing person’s reports, notification of the child’s biological and foster families, the legal steps to be taken with the court and weekly check-ins with local law-enforcement. The department’s policy also provides steps to be taken after the child’s safe return.
“We made the decision to highlight the protocol for handling situations involving runaways and missing children because of questions that arose during the final minutes of the Child Welfare System Task Force meeting on Tuesday,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “We want to assure the public that protocols are in place, and have been for many years, to ensure that when children run away from their foster care placement, every effort is made to locate them and return them to a safe and appropriate foster care home or facility.”
“There are more than 7,000 children in the foster care system,” Secretary Gilmore said. “These children who run away are not under lock and key; they are generally in family foster homes, older youth, who attend school and activities, and they often miss their biological families. We work closely with our foster care contractors, law enforcement, the school system and affected families to locate missing children as quickly as possible.”
While it is unfortunate when any child runs away from the foster care system; this issue is not unique to Kansas. In our state, 1 percent of children in foster care are considered missing, which correlates with the national average. Often, children who run away are located quickly and returned in a short amount of time. In some cases, the missing children are considered on the run with a parent who is attempting to keep them from State care.
DCF and its contracted partners, KVC and Saint Francis Community Services, take seriously their obligation to protect children. We encourage anyone who has information about missing children, from foster care or otherwise, to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. Visit www.missingkids.com
to learn more about missing Kansas children.