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NEW NECESSARY ACTION – Missing Protocol In The Event Of Care Going Missing; Whereabouts Unknown.

NEW NECESSARY ACTION – Missing Protocol in the event of Care going missing; whereabouts unknown.

Introduction to children’s homes: a children’s social care guide to registration April 2018

Click here.

Appendix A sets out the difference between Care and Support.

Introduction to children’s homes Updated April 2023

Introduction to children’s homes – GOV.UK (

No Appendix A.

Where has Care gone?
Care is missing.
Care has been lost
Care needs to be found.

Missing Care Framework

An important addition to the Children Missing from Care Framework

Children Missing from Care Framework (

The overall aim of this framework is to ensure that all children in care receive an appropriate and timely response when they are not where they are expected to be; and that everything possible is done by all multi agency partners to reduce risk and harm, enable a child’s safe return and prevent repeat missing occurrences.

Once we were concerned about ‘missing from care’; Now it’s the care, not the child that is missing. The reasons as to why Care might be missing are complex. Care not being where it is expected to be can be an indication relating to a wide range of push or pull risk and vulnerability factors.

Care being missing will increase a child’s vulnerability and increase risk. Understanding push and pull factors and any patterns related to a Care missing occurrences can help professionals identify potential risks and harm a child may be experiencing. Any missing occurrence should not be viewed in isolation and may be an indicator that something is not right in Care’s life. All absence or missing occurrences should warrant professional attention to help safeguard children.

A coordinated, consistent, child centred and restorative approach to working with children is needed to reduce the likelihood of Care going missing. All to soon we could move from Care’s whereabouts being unknown to it being lost forever. This can happen imperceptibly.

If the threshold of ‘concern for the immediate safety of Care’ is not met, carers should undertake reasonable actions to establish the whereabouts of Care and allow a reasonable opportunity to return. If Care cannot be located after undertaking reasonable actions and a reasonable time has elapsed to allow Care to return of its own accord, action must be taken.

Planning for the prevention of Care being missing and the protection of Care are essential.


The carer has some concerns about Care and its whereabouts, but at the outset of the missing occurrence the carer does not have any immediate concerns about the Care’s safety or the safety of others that would warrant contacting the police immediately.


The carer takes responsibility for trying to locate Care and ensure its safe return.


The carer is worried about the Care’s safety it should be reported as missing.

Responding effectively to Care being missing from care requires a partnership approach in which all partner agencies work together in the best interests of Care to ensure its wellbeing and safety.


Identify any ongoing vulnerability or risk factors which may have contributed to Care going missing and could contribute to repeat occurrences; to try and establish if Care has suffered any significant harm whilst absent; and to establish information that may assist in locating Care if it goes missing again.