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Parliamentary groups launch inquiry into children who go missing from care

Groups seek the views of looked after children

Two influential groups of parliamentarians have joined forces to launch an inquiry into the care and support provided for the thousands of children who run away or go missing from care every year.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG on Looked After Children and Care Leavers want to establish a clearer picture of local and national responses to looked after children who go missing or run away, what support is available to them and what effective interventions look like.

Research from The Children's Society reveals that a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse.

The Society says that children in care are also three times as likely to run away than other children, so developing a better understanding of, and response to this population, is critically important to improve their outcomes.

The inquiry will look at looked-after children who are placed away from their home local authority, data collection and information sharing, police responses and the role of inspection and assessment. It will also hold a separate session looking at how to safeguard trafficked children who have gone missing from care.

The APPGs are keen to hear from interested parties, but in particular want to hear from children and young people with experiences of being looked-after and running away or going missing.

A clear set of practical recommendations will be developed for policy-makers nationally and locally, to improve help and support provided to children who run away or go missing from care.

Chair of the APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, Ann Coffey MP, said:

"I very much welcome this timely inquiry into how Government and local authorities can improve support for children in care who run away or go missing. We all have a responsibility to make sure that children in this situation get the appropriate support and care they deserve."

Vice-Chair of the APPG on Looked After Children and Care Leavers, Earl of Listowel, said:

"This inquiry will focus on making sure that the correct support and care is in place for the thousands of children who run from home or care every year.

'We look forward to a clear set of recommendations for policy-makers across the board, which will make a real impact on the lives of these often very vulnerable children."

Sh?n Nicholas, Interim Chief Executive of The Children's Society which is supporting the inquiry, said:

"The Children's Society welcomes this important inquiry. Far too often children who have run away or go missing are in great danger, with children in the care system disproportionately affected. One child in this situation is one child too many. There is an urgent need to address this issue andmake care a better experience."

The APPG would like to hear from children and young people with experiences of being looked-after and running away or going missing, local authority children's services, voluntary organisations, police, fostering organisations and any other interested organisations.

The deadline for receiving written evidence is 23 April 2012. Please email Ruby.Peacock@childrenssociety.org.uk  or visit the Children's Society website. Comments can also be sent to: Policy Team, The Children's Society, Edward Rudolf House, Margery Street, WC1X 0JL. Alternatively, please call Ruby Peacock on 020 7841 4485.

Oral evidence sessions are being held at the House of Commons in April 2012. A report is set to be published in May 2012.