Jerry Slomka, deputy director of operations at the Department of Children and Family Services.
"These are not children that are lost within our system. On any given day there are absentees from the system - the number is really a moving target," Slomka said.
"There's not a child welfare system in the country that is not faced with this problem," he said. Child welfare experts agreed. "On any given day at any child welfare agency in the country, you're going to have hundreds of kids on runaway status. Mostly they come back. It's a floating number," said Dr. Ronald Davidson, director of
the mental health policy program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Since the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson in Florida was discovered last April, states across the country have reported thousands of missing children, most of them runaway teens.
Rilya had been missing 15 months before state officials realized it. The state said in December that 87 other children were also missing there.
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