It is suggested that you organize your Community Response Plan Team with the following core group roles in mind. Depending on the size of your Community Response Plan Team, one person may assume each role, or one person may take on a number of these responsibilities:

Primary Contact

The Primary Contact should be a person the searching family trusts and that has the ability to lead. This person will have to be able to make a considerable time commitment as they will be responsible for coordinating the entire Community Response Plan.

The Primary Contact is responsible for:

  • The initial organization of the Community Response Plan;

  • Communicating with the police;

  • Establishing a list of resources and contacts to assist in the search and also to give to the searching family;

  • Communicating with missing children services organizations such as;

  • Determining the wishes of the searching family (through the police or an organization like;

  • Ensuring that any information obtained through the Community Response Plan is immediately forwarded to the police; and

  • Helping to coordinate volunteers.

The Primary Contact should schedule regular meetings to keep all core group members informed and to identify and resolve problems as they arise. This role is also responsible for establishing rules of conduct with regard to sensitive information, privacy, and discretion.

Family Liaison

The Family Liaison needs to be appointed by the searching family and will likely be a close friend of the searching family. Qualities the Family Liaison (as well as all the searching family-serving volunteers) require include: excellent communication skills, the ability to remain calm and clear-headed, and good common sense judgment. The Family Liaison should be someone who is in a position to provide emotional support, but has enough distance from the situation and the searching family as to not be in crisis themselves.

The Family Liaison is responsible for:

  • Maintaining communications with the searching family;

  • Seeking advice and consent from the searching family when appropriate; and

  • Ensuring that the searching family's needs, such as meals and day-to-day responsibilities around the house, are being met.

The Family Liaison may choose to involve 2 or 3 trustworthy, sensitive and responsible volunteer assistants to help him/her with household duties.

Search Operations Coordinator

The Search Operations Coordinator is responsible for coordinating any community-driven or community-supported search operations. Where possible, it is recommended having a person with a background in search and rescue, law enforcement, military or someone who is familiar with the area and terrain, in this role.

In consultation with the police, the Search Operations Coordinator will:

  • Coordinate the areas to be searched as well as the search teams (volunteers);

  • Maintain status information about the search; and

  • Collect search information to be provided to the police.

Administrative Coordinator

The Administrative Coordinator should be someone who is very detail oriented and extremely organized. The person who assumes this role will need to remain focused and organized despite the pressures and chaos that they may face.

The Administrative Coordinator is responsible for:

  • Volunteer registration;

  • Establishing procedures for the collection and filing of any personal information;

Personal information may include the contact list of volunteers, and volunteer registration information (especially any ID information or photocopies).

  • Ensuring proper, secure storage of any sensitive information;

Sensitive information includes personal information, as well as any information that pertains to tips, sightings, search discoveries, or information related to the investigation of the child or the searching family.

  • Recording and organizing any Community Response Plan information or family information regarding the missing child and the search;

  • Maintaining lists of volunteers and resources;

  • Ensuring volunteer agreements are being used consistently and appropriately;

  • Creating and printing posters;

  • Maintaining logs such as phone logs; and

  • Maintaining regular communication with other core group members to ensure that records and timelines are being kept.

THE HISTORIAN: A secondary (but critically important) role, the Historian’s main responsibility, as an assistant to the Administrative Coordinator, is to acquire one copy of each essential document generated during execution of the Community Response Plan. Depending on the size of the Community Response Plan Team, this role can be assumed by the Administrative Coordinator.

Resources Coordinator

Ideally, the person who assumes the role of Resources Coordinator will have some background in finance, accounting, or retail. Knowledge in these areas will ensure that monetary and material donations are accounted for.

  • The Resources Coordinator is responsible for managing any inquiries about donations and establishing official trusts or accounts in order to responsibly receive donations.

  • Depending on the circumstances of the missing child, the Resources Coordinator may also be responsible for managing donations of physical resources and materials needed to assist in the search.

  • Donations may be directed to a trust, a search and recovery fund, and/or a reward.

  • It is important that donations of any kind be forwarded to one individual (the Resources Coordinator) to be managed responsibly.

  • However, there should also be a second person appointed to ensure accountability and oversee all financial activities.

Public Awareness Coordinator

The Public Awareness Coordinator should be a member of the community who is familiar with public relations, communications, the media, or marketing. This person should have an outgoing personality and should be able to engage the community effectively and appropriately. It is very important that this person have common sense and that they work well under the direction of the Primary Contact, Family Liaison, and the investigating police service. The Public Awareness Coordinator is responsible for coordinating community efforts to raise awareness about the missing child. This may include coordinating:

  • Media requests

  • Vigils

  • Ribbon distribution

  • Rallies

  • Any other public campaigns with regard to the missing child

  • The Public Awareness Coordinator would also identify (with the help of the searching family and in consultation with the police) which community member(s) will be accessible to do media interviews.

  • This role will include working with the searching family appointed “spokesperson” who may or may not be the Family Liaison.

Depending on the size and scope of your Community Response Plan effort, you may wish to consider finding a home base or headquarters for the duration of the search. This would be a place for the Community Response Plan Team to meet, plan and store information. Keep in mind that the police may also have a command post, and that the community base should be separate in order to minimize traffic to both locations. Also, it is recommended that the Community Response Plan Team base not be located at the missing child’s family’s home. Things to consider when setting up your base include the need for bathrooms, parking, communications (i.e. telephones, Internet access, etc.), reasonable space for a group to meet, 24-hour lighting, heating, security, etc.