Statutory guidance (Department of Education, 2014) states that all children who go missing from care should be offered a ‘return to care interview’ to provide them with appropriate support moving forward.

Statistics have shown that children offer greater disclosures when return interviews are undertaken by an independent person.  Our Advocates have extensive experience of engaging and building trusting relationships with vulnerable young people, many of whom are disengaged from services and are reluctant to disclose personal information.

Children who run away or go missing can be at risk and return to care interviews are a way in which this risk, or any actual harm, can be identified and dealt with. Our return to care interviewers spend time with these children to:

  • Establish why the child has runaway e.g. what the child may be running away from or to (also known as push and pull factors)
  • Establish what experiences the child may have encountered whilst they were missing and help them to understand the risks they faced/are facing
  • Help the child feel safe and understand that they have options to prevent future instances
  • Put them in touch with services or individuals who can support them moving forward
  • Provide the child with information on how to stay safe should they go missing in the future e.g. helpline numbers
One in every eight young people who have been reported missing have been physically hurt and one in nine have been sexually assaulted whilst away (Biehal et al, 2003)
One in five young people said that they had stolen, begged, or done ‘other things’ whilst they had run away in order to survive (Rees 2011)

Completing return to care interviews also means that professionals can share information, with the consent of the child, to ensure an appropriate package of care is in place, identify specific areas of concern or patterns of behaviour for those who run away and highlight ‘hotspots’ of activity and risks in local areas.

We offer Return to Care advocacy support in Bradford, we are also able to offer this on a Spot Purchase basis across the North West.

Useful Documents