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How NCMEC Can Help

We Never Stop Searching

NCMEC provides an array of resources, including case management, poster distribution, social media, on-site law enforcement technical assistance, our long-term missing children initiative, and case analysis, among many others. Every report of a missing child receives a prompt response from the Missing Children Division whose staff will coordinate directly with legal guardians and law enforcement to provide resources to help safely locate the missing child. 

Two units with NCMEC's Missing Children Division are most relevant to the subject of children missing from foster care – the Family Abduction Unit and the Critical and Runaway Unit. Staff handle cases nationwide, from NCMEC's headquarters in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. as well as regional offices in California, Florida, New York and Texas.

Family Abduction Unit

NCMEC's Family Abduction Unit provides technical assistance and support for legal guardians, law enforcement agencies and attorneys, in situations where a child has been wrongfully taken or retained by a parent or family member. FAU staff assists with locating and recovering missing children, nationally and internationally, including those situations where a child may have been taken by a non-custodial parent(s) from social services custody.

Critical and Runaway Unit

The Critical and Runaway Unit provides technical assistance to law enforcement and support to parents or guardians of children who are missing under critical circumstances or who have run away from their home or placement.

Upon assignment of a case, the case management team makes initial contact with listed parents/guardians and law enforcement in order to verify circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and utilize the full range of NCMEC resources for each case. 

If a child runs away or goes missing multiple times, each subsequent incident is assigned to the same case management team. This allows case management teams to develop specialized skills in locating and recovering these missing children while building strong working relationships with the particular law enforcement officers and social service agencies that interact with the child.

Special circumstances

Specially designated Child Sex Trafficking Team case management teams work closely with legal guardians and law enforcement agencies investigating these cases, to provide technical assistance and NCMEC resource coordination. The Child Sex Trafficking Team provides comprehensive analytical services to law enforcement and helps link cases of possible child sex trafficking to missing child cases known to NCMEC. CSTT case management teams also help coordinate child sex trafficking related victim and family support services.

Posters and support

Once a case is reported to NCMEC, whether it is a family abduction or runaway case, or any other missing child situation, a case management team will coordinate the creation and dissemination of posters to help generate leads. The case management team will request analytical support from NCMEC's Case Analysis Division as well as assist in forwarding leads called into NCMEC to the investigating law enforcement agency. It will also make appropriate referrals to NCMEC's Family Advocacy Division and/or Team HOPE for families in crisis and needing emotional support.

See When a Child Is Recovered for additional information about the Family Advocacy Division.

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