Missing children and young people

Follow this procedure when a child or young person subject to child protection involvement goes missing.

Document ID number 1515, version 1, 16 March 2017.

Introduction

Children involved with child protection and community service organisations (CSOs) may engage in high risk behaviours such as running away, being absent from placement without approval or going missing. Lengthy and/or repeated episodes of missing can indicate an increase of risk to the child.

In addition to the direct responses to missing events, including seeking a warrant and making a missing persons report to police, there are additional case practice tasks required in relation to children with a history of going missing.  

For additional information please see Missing children and young people - advice.

If a missing persons report, Children’s Court search warrant, or missing persons media release is required please follow Missing persons report - advice, Missing persons report - procedure, Publication of identifying details - advice and Publication of identify details - procedure.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Document a response plan for any child who goes missing as part of the crisis management plan that includes:
    • the nominated person/s who will be responsible for the return to care conversation with the child
    • arrangements for a return to care conversation within one working day of the child’s return
    • how the return to care conversation will be reported to the case manager.
  • Document the outcome of the return to care conversation on the CRIS file.
  • Complete a ‘Repeat missing profile’ (RMP) for children who have been missing three times in the preceding twenty-eight days or for more than seven consecutive days. This document needs to be endorsed by the team manager or senior practitioner (supervisory) and include: 
    • a risk assessment of the child’s repeat missing behaviour
    • people or locations the child is likely to have contact with or visit when missing  
    • a detailed response plan to guide practitioners and professionals on specific tasks to locate the child
    • After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service (AHCPES) considerations for the missing plan
    • plans to re-engage the child when located
    • arrangements for providing the (repeat missing) profile, and any updates, to Victoria Police.
  • Complete a sexual exploitation information template if it is believed or confirmed that the child has been sexually exploited while missing, including:
    • a chronology of the dates and times the child has been missing
    • brief information about the child’s presentation prior to and following them being missing
    • the believed or confirmed location of the child when missing and persons they were believed or confirmed to have had contact with.
  • When required, complete a weekly missing update for clients and provide it to the divisional Child Protection Missing Coordinator.

Team manager/senior practitioner (supervisory) tasks

  • Review and endorse the repeat missing profile/s.
  • Review the case plan and RMP if episodes of missing continue for four weeks after the development of the initial RMP.
  • Ensure relevant professionals (police, residential care providers, therapeutic staff) are consulted in the development of the response to the child’s episodes of missing. 
  • Identify any children that have had three episodes of missing in the preceding twenty eight days and ensure that they have a RMP.

Child Protection Missing Coordinator

  • Compile a weekly missing area monitoring report at the end of each week to determine:
    • children currently missing and if they are subject to a warrant or missing persons report
    • children who have been missing over the course of the week but have returned
    • high level responses which have been implemented to address the episodes of missing.
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