The focus of the Recovery Center is to recover the missing child.
Throughout search operations the Recovery Center staff must have
a direct line of communication with the missing child's family and
relatives. It is recommended that appropriate personnel be assigned
to handle family liaison duties. Careful thought must be given to
the selection of persons involved with these duties. This is a high
Things to remember:
- Family Liaison's main purpose is to coordinate communications
between the Recovery Center and the family. However, keep in mind
that all major decisions must be made by the Director or other designated
- The family will be overwhelmed with well wishers, media attention,
volunteers, psychics, curious onlookers, etc. Shield them as much
as possible. Try to get a sense of the family's wishes and establish
- Provide assistance to family in areas that have been disrupted
by recent events, i.e., normal activities and duties such as meals,
cleaning, laundry, bill paying, childcare, transportation, etc.
- Remember at all times that the family is in a fragile condition.
Emotions displayed will vary from anger to denial and disbelief.
Try to listen without giving advice.
- Steps should be taken to guide the family in preservation of
the missing child's personal items. Clothing, bedding, toiletries,
toys, etc., should be preserved and access should be restricted for
future investigative use. See preservation of evidence.
- Encourage the family to become proactively involved with the
news media in order to maintain positive coverage of the search.
If media is not properly informed, their coverage may not be beneficial
to the overall effort. See Media
- Encourage the family to seek spiritual and emotional support.
- Recommend that the family visit the Recovery Center when possible.
This will boost family spirit and energize volunteers.
- Screen mail for the family if requested to do so. Be on guard
for inappropriate letters and gifts. Save for later.
- The family may be unaware of activities going on outside their
sphere, and could feel isolated and uninformed. Be as informative
- It is very important to protect the family from false rumors
that will occur during search operations. Advise them that until
confirmed, no rumor is to be believed.
- Encourage the family to establish a visitor and phone log, if
this has not already been done by law enforcement.
- Depending on the family and the amount of media attention the
recovery effort receives, a road check may be desirable at the family's
home. Be sure to coordinate the road check with local law enforcement
as neighbors and others may be inconvenienced. The family can provide
a list of friends and family that they want passed, otherwise the
crew can call the house, before allowing visits. The presence of
the road check is, in itself, enough to help keep away the merely