Monday, 18 June 2012

'Scandalous Care' Of Runaway Children

An urgent investigation into children's care homes has been called for by MPs, after a parliamentary inquiry found that the care system is placing vulnerable children in great danger.
The study also wants action to prevent children being sent to live in areas sometimes hundreds of miles from their family, which is believed to be a major factor in causing some of them to run away.

Labour MP Ann Coffey, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for runaway and missing children and adults, called the issue a "scandal".

Sky News spoke to a 14-year-old girl who was a frequent runaway.
Speaking anonymously, she said: "I think for children in care, the most important thing is to be listened to.
"You can't get the support you need and can't feel settled and comfortable unless they listen to you. But most of the time you feel really blanked - not part of the family.

"I ran at the beginning - I think after I got moved the second time - because you don't feel comfortable where you are, especially when you're being moved around all the time.
"So you just want to run away from it all really and go home to be with someone you actually know - it's really unsettling."

There are 65,520 children in local authority care in England. An estimated 100,000 run away, either from care or their own homes, each year.
A quarter of these children are at serious risk of harm, including being victims of physical and sexual abuse.

The report recommends that more weighting should be given to the management of missing incidents in Ofsted inspections.

Other recommendations include a scorecard system to rate local authorities, an end to barriers preventing police from knowing the location of children's homes and a new system for reporting runaways from care.

Ms Coffey said: "There is a scandal going on in England involving children missing from care and until recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and other places put the spotlight on this issue, it was pretty much going unnoticed.
"We know that dangerous predators are exploiting large gaps in the system and targeting children.
"Our inquiry has demonstrated how the system is far from fit for purpose and needs an urgent rethink to address these failings."

©Sky News

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