25 Jun 2013

The Children’s Society has welcomed changes to protect children who go missing from care, but calls on the government to go further.

A year on from an influential parliamentary report, the government has today published revised guidance on children who go missing, as well as a set of proposed reforms of the care system. 

Risk of abuse

In 2012, two All Party Parliamentary Groups published a joint inquiry which found that the 10,000 children who run away from care every year are at risk of serious abuse and sexual exploitation. The report found that children were being failed by the very systems and professionals there to protect them. 

The revised guidance and care home reforms are out for consultation now and the children’s minister will be speaking at meeting of All Party Parliamentary Group on Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for looked after children in Parliament tomorrow. 

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'We have seen some very positive steps over the last year, and it is great that the government is tackling this issue head on.

Keep children safe

'More scrutiny of out-of-borough care placements, plans to improve the qualifications of care home staff and more oversight to ensure care homes aren’t clustered in unsuitable areas will all help keep children safe. 

'And the new guidance out today is very welcome. But there is still a long way to go. We would like to see every single child who goes missing get an independent return interview, not just those who go missing several times or only those missing from care. 

'Return interviews not only help vulnerable children, they can help disrupt abuse and bring perpetrators to justice. 

'And we need to see a change in attitudes to vulnerable teenagers from professionals too. Very vulnerable children are far too often not believed when they find the courage to speak out about abuse – or are dismissed as troublesome. This cultural change isn’t something that can happen overnight, or even over a year. But it is something the government must take a strong lead on.'

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Notes to editors

  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. 
  • We have six programmes across the country that work with children at risk on the streets, six that work with children in care and one that works with children involved in gangs. Last year our projects across the country supported 556 children that were victims of - or at a high risk of – sexual exploitation.