Children Missing from Care: 2019 Update

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As more state care agencies comply with the 2014 “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act,”1 which requires these agencies to report any children missing from their care, not only to law enforcement but also to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), we learn more and more about the children who go missing from state care. Analyzing these missing incidents, both before the act was passed and years after, differences began to emerge regarding the characteristics of the missing children and their circumstances. This report delves into the differences between two time periods. This update primarily focuses on the fiscal years between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 20192. When relevant, this time period is compared to data from the preceding five fiscal years between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2017. Therefore, this provides a snapshot of the circumstances faced by children missing from care. Of note, in the earlier time frame, there were more black children reported missing from care than any other racial group. In FY 2017 – 2019 white children (37%) were reported missing from care more than any group, followed by black children (33%) and Hispanic children (15%). In the most recent time period, there was an increase in Hispanic children reported missing from care (16%), compared to the earlier analysis (14%). Additionally, children reported missing in the 2017-2019 data set had slightly shorter missing durations than children reported missing in the 2012-2016 data set.

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