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Action to help children missing from care
We are pleased to see that the government has announced urgent action today to tackle the problem of children missing from care.
Over the last few months we have supported a joint parliamentary inquiry into children going missing from care. The report of its findings revealed a shocking picture of children who go missing from care being failed by the very professionals and systems that are meant to protect them.
The children’s minister, Tim Loughton, acknowledged that the inquiry 'goes right to the heart of some of the serious weaknesses in the system' and stated that these 'must be addressed as a matter of urgency, if we are to be able to meet our responsibilities to safeguard and protect all looked after children from abuse and exploitation'.
The government’s response
Today the government is publishing plans in response to the report, announcing action to address these failings.
They have set out a comprehensive plan, including:
- immediate action to make sure Ofsted can share the names and addresses of children’s homes with local police and other agencies
- better data collection system which gives a much clearer picture of the numbers of children who go missing from care
- better risk assessments before children in care are placed out of area and often far away from home, friends and school
- an urgent review of the quality of care in children’s homes, including the qualifications and skills of the workforce and the management and ownership
- a review of the practical care arrangements for trafficked children.
We welcome this speedy and comprehensive government response – it is very encouraging. The stories we heard from children and young people leave no room for doubt that there are huge gaps in the system that must be closed urgently.
Ultimately what will make a major difference going forward is how children are perceived and treated by the professionals there to protect them. At the moment, too many of them are seen as a nuisance, criminals or 'having themselves to blame'. There must be a dramatic change in attitudes and culture towards these very vulnerable children so that they can be kept safe and able to fulfil their potential.
We will be working to hold the government to account and make sure we see real action on the ground.
By Natalie Williams, Policy Officer
Learn more and take action
- Join our Make Runaways Safe campaign, which is building a safety net to protect the 100,000 young people who run away from home or care each year.
- Read the Report from the joint inquiry into children who go missing from care.
- Read accounts and transcripts of the inquiry's four oral evidence sessions.
- Examine written evidence, including unique submissions and related reports, that was submitted to the parliamentary inquiry.
What you can do next
Has your local authority pledged to uphold our Runaways Charter? Find out – use our map