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emilycross
05-16-2014, 11:12 PM
I would greatly appreciate any advice from anyone with police experience/knowledge.

My story is UF, but I want to have somewhat realistic outline of what procedure would be for a missing child/Teen (16) as it would help put a timeline to the beg of the story.

Background: the character that has gone missing is a 16 year old foster child who has run away a number of times before, so she would have been reported missing previously (have a history). The setting of the novel is in a corrupt city, where people like police could be on the take etc. but there would be no reason for them not to follow procedure on missing child (except for her history).

I'd like to get an idea of the following:

(a) how quickly would a foster family report a missing child typically (and if one has run away before - if anyone has any ideas) and what would that procedure be - e.g., contact social worker first

(b) how quickly would Police respond to a report on a missing foster child (with history of running away) and what would there first steps be e.g., sending out an alert? Interviewing her immediate friends?

I really appreciate any thoughts on police procedure and foster/social services procedure on this topic - Thanks!!

jclarkdawe
05-16-2014, 11:20 PM
Foster families need to report the child missing as soon as they realize the child is missing. Social worker is who should be contacted, but depending upon circumstances, can be straight to the police.

Police will check the likely locations as soon as a patrol unit is available. Beyond that, police response depends upon the circumstances.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

KarmaPolice
05-17-2014, 10:50 AM
Didn't mention country, so I'll just go on what I know of UK experience...

It all depends on both the carer(s) in question, the type of placement and the possible reasons for the kid doing a runner. By 16, Social often tries to move the kid into 'halfway houses' and suchlike to free up precious foster carers for younger ones - while they won't immediately move a 16 year-old from a 'stable' placement, it's rare for them to place one in a new foster placement. Unless the kid's a newbie, they'll know this fact and could get moved pretty sharpish as long as they didn't mind that or the usually-dreaded Home (some kids in Care are more equal than others). Case in point - the girls who were drawn into working as prostitutes up north a few years back were all from Children's Homes, not foster placements.

Now, the way the carer would get the ball rolling would be to alert their Social Worker (they have one too, their 'support') that X hasn't been seen overnight/a day or two. School could also raise the alarm - in the last few years some have got real diligent about informing parents when the kid didn't turn up for a single lesson / was late - and they'd be sure to inform the kids Social Worker too. Then it's in the hands of the Social Worker - if the kid has one, that is. Long-term, chronic understaffing means that they might be using either the Duty or even a temp agency one - which means you'll not see much more than the form response (check possible friends & relatives, file a missing kid report with the police and give up). Even if they do have an assigned Social Worker, they might be useless or just grossly overworked. They'll only pull their finger out a bit more if they think something 'real bad' has/is about to happen (murder, rape etc) - ooh, the threats of bad media attention, public inquires and possible sinking of careers.

I don't believe the Police would do much - their response seems to be triggered by a) how young the kid is - 16 is no longer a kid, really. b) how much 'push' they get (from friends, family, Social etc) - a 16 year old with excellent school grades and helps at a playgroup is bound to get more than one who's dropped out of school, sniffs aerosol cans and shoplifts. c) reasons for leaving - if they think there's a chance of being 'nabbed, they'll do more than if they think they've done a runner. Again, unless pushed you'd see the form response - check possible leads, file report and go on with your next case.

Sad, but true.

WeaselFire
05-18-2014, 08:50 AM
(a) how quickly would a foster family report a missing child typically (and if one has run away before - if anyone has any ideas) and what would that procedure be - e.g., contact social worker first

Speed depends on whether they like her or not. :)

In Florida, a foster parent or other state-appointed guardian must report a missing juvenile as soon as they know she is missing. This almost always entails a missing persons report to the local jurisdiction. Failure to do so, unfortunately too common, can result in the foster child being removed from the guardianship as well as other civil penalties.


(b) how quickly would Police respond to a report on a missing foster child (with history of running away) and what would there first steps be e.g., sending out an alert? Interviewing her immediate friends?

This depends dramatically on the circumstances and age. In Florida, we go after kids 12 and under very aggressively. Teens, especially known runaways with no known threats or other issues, we usually just put a notice out.

Now, what do you need for your story? Need a better police reaction? Have her be last seen being pushed into a car, give her a medical condition or otherwise put her in more jeopardy. Or, put her in the middle of a crime, she shot at her ex-boyfriend, etc.

If you need little to no reaction or notice, have her parents assume she's moved in with that rat-bastard on-again, off-again boyfriend who got her knocked up and fathered her abortion before they became her foster parents. She always comes back in a few weeks, why bother reporting?

Jeff

emilycross
05-20-2014, 09:19 PM
Thank you everyone for the great responses, you've all given me a lot to think about for my story!