Florida’s foster care system came under fire after a report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General revealed missing children were not being reported properly.
According to the OIG audit, state agencies failed to report missing children in accordance with federal law, while some did not report them missing at all.
In total, there were 110,446 missing children’s episodes from foster care between July 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020, the audit found.
The report also found that 6,619 were still missing by the end of the audit period.
During the same period, Florida has 13,011 children missing from foster care, accounting for 2% of the 117,250 children in the foster care system, th highest in the U.S.
The report revealed that children in Florida’s foster care system spent an average of 10 days missing.
Florida still had 156 children unaccounted for by December 31, 2020, and five died while missing.
As Just The News reported:
The objective of the audit was to examine the policies and procedures that had been implemented by each state agency to report and locate missing foster children.
The audit was further used to identify any barriers that may be preventing a positive outcome and to report on the challenges faced by state agencies.
In comparison, California had 10,893 children disappear from foster care, which equates to 5%. It took an average of 41 days to locate the missing children, and in that time, 13 of those missing children were reported as deceased.
By the end of the audit period, California still had 2,767 children unaccounted for.
The majority of children who went missing where aged between 15 and 17, making up 65% of the missing children across the U.S.
Of that number, females comprised 51% of the missing children, while males accounted for e 48%, with 1% not reporting a gender.
A state agency official said the missing children were classed as runaways but said those runaways under five years old were likely abducted.
The report added that all 50 state agencies had implemented the OIG recommendations to help locate missing children.
Numerous barriers were identified, including a lack of oversight in reporting missing children and issues collaborating with Federal agencies and law enforcement.
But the main challenges for locating children came down to cooperation from the families and law enforcement.
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