§4 ch3: Out-of-Home Entry
3.1.2 Protective Custody of the Child
The reasons for requesting protective custody are found in the Missouri law chapter 211.031, RSMo. Briefly, these include:
- The child is in need of care and treatment because the parent(s) has neglected him/her or refused to provide proper support, education, medical, surgical or other care required by law;
- The child is otherwise without proper care, custody or support;
- The behavior, environment or associations of the child are injurious to his/her welfare or that of others; or
- The child is charged with an offense not classified as criminal if committed by an adult (status offender).
By statute, a Children’s Service Worker cannot take protective custody of the child. It is the legal responsibility of law enforcement, physician or juvenile officer to take protective custody of a child if imminent danger exists.
At the time CD is given protective custody, the intake worker determines if it is most appropriate for the child to:
- Remain in the current setting;
- Be transported to the office or site of continuing investigation for participation in the process; or
- Be placed in emergency care.
Purpose Code “X” Screening
Purpose Code “X” screening is used for emergency placement or exigent circumstances.
Exigent circumstance refers to an emergency, a pressing necessity, or a set of circumstances requiring immediate attention or swift action.
- This could include circumstances when time is of the essence, and the health and safety of the child are involved, for other matters in which it is deemed necessary to ensure the best interest of the child.
- The term “exigent circumstances” includes unplanned or urgent placements of a child in the custody of the Children’s Division (Compact Council May 2008).
- Exigent circumstances do not include routine foster or licensed care situations, visitations with relatives or kin, or for the purposes of a child/youth to attend a sleep-over with friends.
- Exigent circumstances could include a placement disruption in which a perspective relative or kinship provider comes forward with a request for placement consideration of a child already in the custody of the Children’s Division.
If a child is in the custody of the Children’s Division, has an unplanned move or placement disruption, and a potentially suitable relative or kinship resource provider comes forward with an offer to provide placement for the child, staff should follow through with the Purpose Code “X” process as this would constitute an exigent circumstance.
Process for Completing a Purpose Code "X" Screening
If there is a need to complete a Purpose Code "X" screening for emergency placement or exigent circumstances, staff should adhere to the following process:
- The Children’s Service Worker or juvenile officer must request local law enforcement to search the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) for anyone 17 years old or older residing in the household.
- MULES is an electronic communication system strictly used for law enforcement purposes, but permission has been granted to allow the Division access to the information in cases of emergency protective custody, where children are placed in the care and custody of the Division.
- In accordance with Section 210.482.2 RSMo, a child should be immediately removed from the home in which he/she has been placed if anyone 17 years old or older refuses to provide fingerprints.
- The FBI has approved law enforcement to conduct Purpose Code "X" background screenings with a time-limited delay in fingerprinting due to placing a child as a result of an emergency situation. However, fingerprints must be submitted to the FBI within fifteen (15) days of the MULES check.
- To meet that deadline, the Children’s Service Worker must provide the placement provider with information to schedule their screening with the contracted electronic fingerprint vendor.
- When a court or Children’s Service Worker approaches a law enforcement agency about providing this type of check, the law enforcement agency is not responsible for ensuring the legitimacy of the request. Law enforcement is required to ensure the requestor is an authorized representative, and upon verification, the inquiry should be performed.
- Local offices should work with their multidisciplinary teams to establish protocols to fulfill the required verification process.
- Local offices should document and maintain the Purpose Code X Request log, CD-153.
- If the Children’s Division fails to keep an accurate and up to date log to account for subsequent delayed fingerprinting, or a reason that fingerprints will not be submitted (e.g., due to a disqualifying criminal history), the Division could lose the right to delay fingerprinting in the future.
- If the child’s condition indicates that emergency medical care is necessary, the intake worker shall make arrangements for the child to be immediately taken to a doctor or to an emergency room. If appropriate, parents should be allowed to accompany child.
- A copy of the medical report will be obtained and given to the placement provider, with a copy maintained in the file.