CMFCAA applauds three sections of a new state law aimed at keeping children in foster care safe and pairing them with loving families.
The new laws address previous issues with missing children so that the state knows the whereabouts of the youths and that they are safe. The law changes will also ensure that diligent work is being done to find them loving homes.
Senate Bill 186, a wide-ranging public safety bill, took effect Aug. 28.
The sections on foster care stem from a report showing Missouri had 1,780 instances of missing foster kids from July 2018 to December 2020.
The issue isn't unique to Missouri; it's a nationwide problem. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found that more than 74,000 children were missing for at least two days from July 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2020.
Nationwide, children were missing an average of 34 days, the Washington Post reported. These are vulnerable youths who are more susceptible to being involved in crime, drug use, pregnancy, and sex trafficking.
One of the law changes requires the state's Children's Division to report specific information about its attempts to find placements for a child within 30 days of the child being removed from his or her home. We expect to work closely with the division on this. For years, CMFCAA has operated 30 Days to Family®, a program that works to identify family/extended family members with the goal of finding quick placements.
Here are two other provisions in the law:
Missing children definition: The law changes the definition of a missing child to include youths in foster care regardless of their age. Previously the definition was limited to those under 18. Now this covers all youths in foster care, which can be up to the age of 21. It also specifies that a missing child cannot be removed from any system until the child is found or the case is closed.
Missing children reporting requirement: Previously, the law specified that a parent or guardian must report a missing child within 24 hours. The new law changes this to two hours.
We believe these law changes are more tools in the state's arsenal to keep children infoster care safe and in loving homes. We applaud lawmakers and the governor for their continued support of these often-forgotten children.