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STANDARD 5 - Children Missing from Care


  • Children rarely go missing and if they do, they return quickly.
  • Children who do go missing are protected as far as possible and responded to positively on their return.


The care and support provided to children, minimises the risk that they will go missing and reduces the risk of harm should the child go missing.


Foster carers know and implement what the fostering service and the responsible authority’s policy is in relation to children going missing.


Foster carers are aware of, and do not exceed, the measures they can take to prevent a child leaving without permission under current legislation and Government guidance.


Children who are absent from the foster home without consent, but whose whereabouts are known or thought to be known by carers or staff, are protected in line with the fostering service’s written procedure.


The fostering service and foster carers take appropriate action to find children who are missing, including working alongside the police where appropriate.


If a child is absent from the fostering home and their whereabouts are not known (i.e. the child is missing), the fostering service’s procedures are compatible with the local Runaway and Missing from Home and Care (RMFHC) protocols and procedures applicable to the area where each foster home is located.


Where children placed out of authority go missing, the manager of the fostering service follows the local RMFHC protocol. They also comply with, and make foster carers aware of, any other processes required by the responsible authority, specified in the individual child’s care plan and in the RMFHC protocol covering the authority responsible for the child’s care. [Statutory Guidance on children who run away and go missing from home and care - 3.5(27)].


Children are helped to understand the dangers and risks of leaving the foster home without permission and are made aware of where they can access help if they consider running away.


Where a child goes missing and there is concern for their welfare, or at the request of a child who has been missing, the fostering service arranges a meeting in private between the child and the responsible authority to consider the reasons for their going missing. The fostering service considers with the responsible authority and foster carer what action should be taken to prevent the child going missing in future. Any concerns arising about the foster carer or the placement are addressed, as far as is possible, in conjunction with the responsible authority.


Written records kept by the fostering service where a child goes missing detail action taken by foster carers, the circumstances of the child’s return, any reasons given by the child for running away from the foster home and any action taken in the light of those reasons. This information is shared with the responsible authority and, where appropriate, the child’s parents.