Children as young as 12 ‘going missing from care facilities’

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Despite this, most of the children and young people living in the homes report ‘high levels of satisfaction’ with the care they are receiving.

The report from the Jersey Care Commission followed inspections of the care homes carried out last year. Regular inspection of the facilities was one of the recommendations of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

Jersey has seven different care facilities for children and young people. Four of them are small homes, catering for just two or three children, while there are two which provide short breaks for up to 30.

Another with a capacity of four is a secure unit for those who are detained by a court ruling, are at risk of harming themselves or who have a history of absconding.

The report said that young people were going missing from the other homes.

It stated: ‘One young person was reported as missing on 47 occasions. In 2020, one home reported 143 incidents, the majority of which related to young people missing from care at night.

‘The commission has received notifications relating to children as young as 12 years old being missing overnight from some of the care homes.’

The report also noted there were staff shortages in some homes, although it said these had not affected the quality of care provided. In some homes, it deemed that the facilities for staff on duty overnight were not good enough.

It also stated: ‘The views of the young people using the care-home services overall reflected high levels of satisfaction with the care received.

‘Some of the children and young people described the staff as supportive and said that they felt listened to by staff. Several reported that the staff treated them with respect.’

Audrey Murphy, chief inspector of the Jersey Care Commission, said: ‘Of all the findings in the report, the number of children going missing is the most concerning. If we were ranking them in order of concern, this would come first.’

However, she pointed out that the problem was not necessarily new or increasing but had not been reported before.

Ms Murphy explained: ‘These homes now have to tell us about each and every occasion something like this happens.

‘Until the Jersey Care Commission took on this role, the information hadn’t been made public – and it’s important that it is. Anyone who finds themselves
unable to live in the family home is likely to be quite troubled and, for various reasons, they may seek to leave the care

‘There may be concerns about what company they are keeping when they go out.’

Police are sometimes notified when youngsters disappear and Ms Murphy said: ‘It’s also about having enough staff with a duty to respond. The homes have a duty of care and have to do everything that’s reasonable.’

She said she was pleased with the satisfaction levels, adding: ‘We are looking at a very good picture now. There are areas for improvement but it’s critical to seek the views of young people, and to hear that they feel well looked after and well cared for, I think is very important.’

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