MESA, Ariz. — A piece of legislation that would revise how the Arizona Department of Child Safety reports missing foster children has been signed into law.
House Bill 2651 will obligate DCS to notify local media outlets within 48 hours of receiving a report of a missing or runaway child. Information about the missing juvenile must also be posted on social media platforms.
Gov. Katie Hobbs signed the bill this week after it passed through the Arizona Legislature with broad bipartisan support.
State Rep. Barbara Parker, R-District 10, introduced the bill after two teenage girls were found dead in a Mesa water basin on Jan. 21. The teens had allegedly run away from a group home two weeks prior.
The causes of death for Sitlalli Avelar, 17, and Kamryn Meyers, 15, were listed as “accidental” by the medical examiner.
Parker said she took issue with how the community wasn’t aware of these missing girls until after they were deceased. There would have been an army of people willing to help find them if the public had known, Parker said.
“When these two young girls ended up in a water retention basin in my legislative district and my voters said to me, ‘Rep. Parker, no more — no more. We want you to run this bill,'” the lawmaker said during a legislative hearing in March.
HB 2651 additionally requires DCS to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children within 24 hours of getting a report of a missing child in the agency’s care.
The state agency will be mandated to contact anyone known to DCS who may have relevant info about the missing child within 24 hours of being made aware of the juvenile’s disappearance.
DCS must also take various actions on an ongoing basis until the missing child is found, which includes regular contact with law enforcement and updating info on social media platforms.
More info on HB 2651 can be found below:
*Editor’s Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.*
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