CPS/Impact & Reunification

Child Protective Services Checklist

Best Practices Guideline For CPS Social Workers
When A Child On Their Caseload Is Reported Abducted
Use this guideline if one of the following circumstances arises. If in doubt, always consult a supervisor or manager:
• An unauthorized parent/relative takes a child from a visitation, school or placement; whereabouts are unknown
• Child does not return home from school or activity, cannot be found, and is not likely a runaway
• The caretaker observes or someone reports a family member or unknown person has abducted the child
Overview of the Process - may differ by county:
When a child is abducted prompt action is needed to ensure the child is recovered quickly and safely. Initially, two reports are necessary: Missing Person's Report and a Child Abduction Report. Collaboration with other services is necessary to ensure word gets out about the child. Once the child is returned the abduction/recovery is not over; therapeutic services are needed to help the child and family deal with the psychological trauma so that successful re-integration can be achieved.

File a Missing Person's and Child Abduction Reports

The CPS worker must ensure that the foster parent/relative/other parent files a Missing Person's Report IMMEDIATELY with the law enforcement jurisdiction where the child was abducted and not where the child normally resides with the parent or in the jurisdiction where the Child Protective Services Office is located. If the foster parent/relative/other parent is not cooperative, the CPS worker must make the Missing Person's Report with law enforcement as described above and can refer him/her to Out-of-Home-Care Unit for investigation.

According to Penal Code Section 14205(a), law enforcement shall accept any report of a missing person without delay. The report must be made for each missing child by a caretaker, the CPS worker, or other person.

After the Missing Person's Report has been made, it is the responsibility of the foster parent/relative/other parent to immediately advise the CPS worker of the abduction by contacting and speaking directly with him/her. Simply leaving a message or voice mail message for the individual is not sufficient.

Ensure the Child Has Been Entered Into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)

Law enforcement MUST enter the Missing Person's Report into the California Department of Justice Missing Persons System (MUPS). The MUPS database automatically forwards the report to NCIC.

Per federal and state law, reports involving missing persons under the age of 21 MUST be in the NCIC and MUPS databases within two hours after receipt of the report.
[Reference Title 42, Ch. 72 subchapter IV, Sec. 5780, and Penal Code Section 14205(b)]

File a Child Abduction Report

A Crime Report for Child Abduction, Penal Code Section 278.5(a) or 278, IS TO BE TAKEN IMMEDIATELY.

The CPS worker must report the abduction to the police in the city from which the child was abducted.

When reporting the abduction to law enforcement the CPS worker must bring the following documents/information to the police station:

• The most current Minute Order from the Dependency Court;
• The CPS worker's Child Protective Services Identification Badge; and
• All the details surrounding the abduction.

Once the CPS worker reports the abduction, it is good practice for the CPS worker to note the name and badge number of the law enforcement official who takes the report, as well as the report number.

File a Request for Protective Custody Warrant Within 24 Hours

Notify the School

If the child's school receives a request for the abducted child's school records, the school personnel must IMMEDIATELY notify the CPS worker.

Advise the District Attorney

Upon the issuance of the Juvenile Court's Protective Custody Warrant, and/or the Hearing Officer has requested a 3010 Order, the CPS worker must contact the District Attorney's Office for further assistance. The CPS workers need to cooperate in providing information/reports to both the district attorney's investigators for the purpose of locating the child and the district attorney's prosecutors for the eventual prosecution of the abducting parent or party.

Obtain Photos

The CPS worker should obtain photos of the abducted child immediately. The photos should show clear features of the child. If available, a photo of the abducting parent/party should be obtained as well.

Apply for "Orders for Publication"

The CPS worker should apply to the Dependency Court to obtain an order to allow the publishing of photographs of both the abducted child and the abducting parent/party so that such photos may be used in circulating flyers.

Submit Photos

The CPS worker should submit photos of the abducted child and abducting parent/party so that the photos may be published by appropriate agencies as specified by your Child Protective Services and/or to the investigating law enforcement agency and/or District Attorney's Office that is handling the case.

Consult with the District Attorney Child Abduction Unit or the California Attorney General's Office in Your Region

The CPS worker should consult with the District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit to see if it is appropriate/possible to make an application under the Hague Convention for the return of a child abducted to another country.

When a Child is Recovered

Once a child is recovered, the CPS worker should notify the child's attorney and any other investigating agency. (i.e., District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit/ local law enforcement agency) and the Dependency Court WITHIN 24 HOURS OF THE RECOVERY.

Refer the Child and Parent/s to a Psychological Counseling Program

Once the child is recovered, the CPS worker should refer the child and parent to psychological counseling to deal specifically with the issues surrounding abduction, recovery, and re-integration into the family unit or into the out-of-home placement of the child.

File for Victim Compensation Program Benefits

Once the child has been recovered, if the abduction was by a parent or other person with a right of custody to the child, the CPS worker should advise the legal guardian to file a claim with the California Victim Compensation Government Claims Board or the local victim witness assistance center.

Content written by Linda Quintana-Mansouri, CPS Consultant to Los Angeles County.

For Information and Resources:
Please contact Xiomara Flores-Holguin, Children Services Administrator, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, email: florex@dcfs.lacounty.gov or call (213) 700-9921.

  • Cal OES
    Cal OES

    Produced by the Child Abduction Training Project of the Center for Innovation and Resources, Inc. (CIR) in partnership with the California Child Abduction Task Force with funding from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), made possible through the United States Department of Justice, Victims of Crime Act.

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