Webinar presenter Leemie Kahng-Sofer answered a number of your questions after her presentation, "Federal Legislation Impacting Children Missing from Care and NCMEC Resources." Here are some of her responses.
Audience Question: Sharon is working with a teenage girl who has been an endangered runaway and was a victim of sex trafficking. Do you have any resources that could help her out?
Leemie Kahng-Sofer: Our Family Advocacy Division can try to connect with local resources. I'm not sure if this case was reported to NCMEC. If you email me, we can start a discussion offline and I can connect you to the appropriate people. I'd be very happy to do that.
Audience Question: I have noticed that many times the leads are not given to the proper law enforcement agency in the city where they think a child is located. Callers with tips should contact that agency rather than the original agency. Because often when the lead is sent days later it is too late.
Leemie Kahng-Sofer: In terms of our process and understanding of how it works. When we do our posters, we do list the originating agency. We very much understand that that may not be where the child is located, so if anybody does call with a lead to us, we will immediately reach out and send that out to the originating agency who will then coordinated with the other agency. In terms of recommendation, we have our process in place and it's been in place for quite some time because we do want to make sure that the originating investigating agency is aware. That's most of our dealings, but certainly, if there's a lead caller and they cite somebody. They can call us and we can try to make the connections as quickly as possible. But in terms of who we list on our poster, it is the investigating agency that we do have to list.
Audience Question: Is a juvenile probation officer considered law enforcement for reporting purposes?
Leemie Kahng-Sofer: I don't know if you are sworn law enforcer. Sworn law enforcer status impacts the ability to receive information. But certainly, if you have somebody that you are aware is missing and their legal guardian has not reported to us, you can report it to us. We will take that report of the missing child. There are some agencies that we do understand that guardianship is shared between the child welfare agency and the juvenile justice or probation agency. if you're not one of those jurisdictions but you're aware of a missing child, then certainly you can report. We do ask though that you provide the information of the contact, who is the case or social worker for the agency that does maintain the guardianship. We do recommend that law enforcement report be in place and preferably also have them in NCIC just so that we can do posters and try to get our resources up as immediately as possible. But you can call us.
Audience Question: Are states required to implement their own statutes reflecting the federal legislation or are they automatically incorporated into the requirements?
Leemie Kahng-Sofer: I do understand that after the passage of HR 4980 that there are a number of states that actually pass their own state version of this. The only mandate that the federal legislation had was that the child welfare or state agency who's responsible for the care and custody of the child create specific policies in expeditiously locating, or what efforts, what was going to be in place for quickly recovering a missing child. I know that there are states who have implemented their own state legislation that incorporates this. And then there are state agencies who created policies that incorporate the mandate as well.