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Improving Recovery Time of Children Missing from State Care Using Quantitative Analysis Techniques Open Access

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Locating children missing from state care quickly is critical for their safety and overall wellbeing. This research was conducted to evaluate the time it takes to establish the team of teams, or human systems of system, to search for a missing child. Specifically, the time it takes for social service, law enforcement, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) to be brought together with the common goal of finding the missing child. Data gathered from the dates the child went missing, missing child posters, and recovery dates were used to analyze the timing of the missing event with the time frames to establish the human systems and overall recovery time. When children go missing from state care, they are often faced with social and economic challenges. As teenagers or at times, pre-teens, they are not prepared for the risks that lie ahead during a missing episode. The longer they are exposed to risks, the higher the chance they will fall victim to threats such as gang activity, suicidal attempts, online enticement, commercial/sexual exploitation, and/or any other endangerments.Although many states have local resources such as shelters, feeding plans, and other social service types of support, not many have resources dedicated to finding children missing from social service care. This leaves the primary search for the missing child to be handled by the legal/court appointed guardian, law enforcement, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®. Due to local and state level issues such as the lack of awareness, policy, or resources, there is a possible impact on the overall recovery time from delays in aligning the appropriate searching teams to look for a missing child. Although research like this has not been conducted before, it is the expectation this analysis will shed light on the issue of children missing from state care and encourage state agencies to apply timely resources in the search for at-risk missing youth.

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