AT A GLANCE
DHS policy on missing children
The state Department of Human Services has a four-page policy for dealing with children who run away or are abducted from state custody. Following are some of the highlights:
• A report must be filed immediately with law enforcement and the district attorney and child's attorney. Parents must also be notified if they still have parental rights.
• A judge must be asked to issue a pick-up order for the child within one business day.
• In cases where there is a high risk of harm to the child or the child has not had any contact for seven days, DHS is required to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That organization will then post the child's picture, name and relevant information on its website, but will not include information about the child being in DHS custody.
• National notification is not required for children who have patterns of running away and returning within 48 hours, runaways who have contacted their workers to say they are in the area and situations where the DHS workers believe they know where the missing children may be.
• The DHS worker is required to make monthly calls to law enforcement, relatives and other associates of the child until the missing child is located.
• DHS can petition the court to cease its monthly search efforts after two years if the child has not been located.
Randy Ellis, Staff Writer