Runaway Debriefing 

When a child under our care runs, there are many high risk factors impacting the child’s safety and well-being. Our job is to try and protect the children we serve as best we can. It is critical to comply with Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 65C-30.019 which requires the Case Manager to complete an interview (debrief) with the child within 24 hours of the child’s return. When a child is recovered, time is of the essence in gathering information to help us better assess the child’s needs and possible placement options. 

Case Managers use the “Runaway Debriefing Form” to document interview with child.  FAC also requires a photo be taken every time a child is recovered from a run episode.  

The information gathered from the debriefing interview is used to determine the child’s need for further services, to assess safety and well-being concerns, to determine high risk behaviors, and to identify potential placements and/or assess the need for a change in placement. Case Managers must complete this form while interviewing the child – the child is not supposed to fill the form in. The Debriefing is meant to be a process of in-depth communication with the child to let the child know we do care about that child’s wants and needs, to help the child feel safe and feel like we are listening to him/her. If the child has medical or other immediate needs, the Case Manager is to schedule appointments prior to leaving the child. The Case Manager and the child develop an action plan for the child to be available to attend the appointments. This may help prevent this child from running again in the future.

Debriefing forms are reviewed by the Quality Management Specialist (missing person POC) for timeliness and trends. Information is tracked and used to determine areas we can improve systemically, as well as possible ways to better serve the individual child (especially frequent runners). It is critical that all items within the form are completed thoroughly to ensure that we get a better picture of how to assist each child.

There is a section at the end of the Runaway Debriefing form for Case Managers and the child to use to detail the needed follow up tasks. These follow up tasks should have deadlines associated with them, and should incorporate the child’s wants and needs.  Most of the time children run to feel like they have some control in their lives and to be with friends. If we are able to get the child to work in cooperation with the team the child’s friends can be assessed and, when possible, cleared for overnight contacts. Working in cooperation with the child helps us in providing Normalcy for the child.

Taking the extra time to show the child we care and to have discussions with the child about the run factors noted in the Debriefing interview will assist us in better serving the child. When possible, the Case Manager can fill the form in after the conversation has taken place so the child feels they have the Case Manager’s undivided attention during the interview.  Afterwards, the Case Manager can review what was written in the form with the child to verify accuracy and obtain the child’s signature.