Some children run away from their DCF foster homes for a variety of reasons. DCF’s goal regarding foster children is to provide a safe, nurturing, and supportive placement. Unfortunately, this objective is not always met. When children run away from their foster homes and go missing, there are minimal services to help correct the situation.
According to Boston 25 News, a nationwide investigation scrutinized how DCF handles missing and absent children. DCF faced backlash after the investigation revealed that “child welfare workers across the country had kicked thousands of missing foster care children out of the system.” This investigation sparked a demand for change within the system concerning missing and or absent children. This nationwide investigation lasted approximately a year.
Boston 25 News reported that the Massachusetts DCF made strides by implementing the “Missing and Absent Pilot Program” for children who run away while in DCF custody. This program has been successful at targeting high-risk children and intervening before they run away.
According to Boston 25 News, “the agency said that since July 2018 there have been 38% fewer missing kids,” due to the implementation of the new program. State data acquired under public records request shows that “in July 2018 there were 167 missing or absent foster kids compared to 103 of April (2019).”
New approaches like this program need to be continually looked into and implemented. There are minimal funds for finding missing foster children within DCF.
According to the DCF budget analysis, the Governor recommends “the addition of $150,000, including $121,500 from the States General Fund… to hire a protective investigator to assist with locating missing foster children.”