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Missing From Care: Action 'Continues To Be Taken'

The acting Children and Education Minister says safety plans are being looked at to make sure everything possible is being done to protect young people in care from harm.

It's after a report revealed that children as young as 12 were reported missing from care homes overnight last year. One youngster was reported missing on 47 separate occasions.

The Jersey Care Commission raised concerns about the measures in place to keep young people safe - adding that little information was given about plans to address these issues.

The regulator revealed situations where staff told police that a child was missing and just waited for their return.

"The absence of further information about any other intervention in these situations would suggest that this is the extent of the measures in place to maximise the safety of a child or young person in care. This is concerning and doesn’t provide evidence of compliance with the Standards that relate to supporting children and young people to feel safe.

"In other instances, the Commission has received detailed accounts of staff searching the area, locating the young person and supporting them to return to the home. This is good practice and is consistent with what any parent might consider appropriate in these circumstances."

Senator John Le Fondre says he will make sure the areas for improvement identified will be progressed as a matter of priority - with action already and still being taken.

That includes appointing a 'Missing from Care Coordinator' and reviewing the training offered to staff.

"This is a complex area of responsibility and it is well understood that children run away for a variety of reasons. It is also understood that, whatever the reason, running away is often a sign that something is wrong and that going missing is a symptom of the life challenges that they are facing. I know that our residential teams work hard every day to give children and young people the security and care that they need to address their needs and the challenges that can arise from trauma and other adverse experiences. This report will help the Government and its partners further in developing their practice. Crucially, this shared endeavour will continue to include asking children themselves what works for them."

The Chief Minister says he will also make sure the government works closely with the police and probation services so young people experience the best possible support to address their often complex needs.

The Children's Commissioner tweeted that the number of times children went missing is a huge concern as they are at risk of child sexual exploitation.

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