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MISSING CHILD POLICIES & PROCEDURES: A Guide for Foster Carers

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It is important to know how to manage a situation when a child goes missing, as a foster carer or staff member. This guide outlines key details, do's and don'ts- and is all complaint with the National Minimum Standards and Regulations of Fostering Services.

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MISSING CHILD POLICIES & PROCEDURES: A Guide for Foster Carers

  1. 1. MISSING CHILD Policies & Procedures Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  2. 2. A guide for carers and staff, to help them manage a situation when a child goes missing. The general policies in this document are compliant with the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards and Regulations 2011, Standards 5 Missing from Care Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  3. 3. ‘Missing Child’, DEFINED The term ‘missing’ or ‘absconding’ means: • A child who is absent from his/her placement and whose whereabouts are unknown. This includes a child who may have been abducted. • A child who is absent from his/her placement without the agreement of the carers but whose whereabouts are known or suspected. • A child who is Remanded or otherwise Lawfully Detained in Local Authority Accommodation and is absent without Authority or Missing from the placement. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  4. 4. Planning & Prevention Foster carers should know when to try to prevent a child or young person leaving the home and should make this clear through oral communication. However, they should not try to restrain the child should they be intent on leaving, or in any other circumstances, unless it is necessary to prevent injury to the child or others, or serious damage to property. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  5. 5. Planning & Prevention Carers should be continuously alert to the signs or indications that a child may be likely to 'run away' or become missing. If carers suspect that this may happen, they should take any action already agreed with the supervising social worker and the child’s social worker, or do what they can (within reason), and safely decrease the chances, or prevent the child from leaving - this includes circumstances where a child is refusing to return to the home. If the risk increases, they should contact the supervising social worker or if out of hours- the on-call social worker for advice. If there is a serious risk e.g. the child is behaving in a violent manner or threatening to damage property, the carer should contact the Police, then contact the Supervising Social Worker at the first opportunity. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  6. 6. WHEN A CHILD GOES MISSING The foster carer should:  Make attempts to locate the child i.e. telephone all known contacts of the said child e.g. their school, friends, parental addresses and shops and if able to visit all known places they may be i.e. playgrounds, friend’s homes, local areas where groups of children congregate.  If the child is not found within a reasonable time frame: one hour for under 12's and two hours for over 12's (unless stated otherwise in their Placement Agreement/Placement Plan), report the child missing to the local Police and the child's Local Authority (social worker/Duty/EDT). It is the carer's responsibility to ensure they have these numbers available to them. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  7. 7. WHEN A CHILD GOES MISSING The foster carer should:  Complete a Missing Person’s Report detailing the date, time, and description of the circumstances prior to the child absconding, note all people notified and required action. Note the time the young person returned and circumstances. Note any reasons the young person gave for being absent.  Send the Report to their Supervising Social Worker or the Fostering Service Manager as a matter of urgency. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  8. 8. WHEN A CHILD GOES MISSING At no time should the foster carer pass any information to the press. All information should only be shared between the Local Authority, Police and the Fostering Service Manager. It will be the responsibility of the child's social worker or Local Authority EDT to inform the child’s parents where appropriate. Once the child has been reported missing, the police will interview the foster carer to obtain relevant information including the child's details, name date of birth, hair/skin/eye colour, distinguishing features, any disabilities, clothing and jewellery believed to be worn. A recent photograph may be required. Carers should be aware that the police have the right to search their property and may do so to ascertain that the child is still missing and not just hiding. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk
  9. 9. WHEN A CHILD RETURNS AFTER GOING MISSING The foster carer should take the following into consideration:  Assess the child’s immediate needs i.e. offer something to eat, does the child need a shower/bath and a clean change of clothes? Is there any need for medical treatment?  Explain to the child that they do not want them to go missing but they will be welcomed back to the household.  Try to gain an insight into the young person’s absence and what can be done to minimise its recurrence, although it is acknowledged that the point at which the child returns may or may not be the best time to try to discuss the reasons why the child has gone missing.  Inform all relevant professionals i.e. police (unless they returned the child), Fostering Service Manager and the child’s Local Authority that the child has returned. A missing from care return interview will be completed with the child or young person. Copyright © 2017 TCI Pathway www.tcipathway.co.uk

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