Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham will be a key panellist in a new major parliamentary inquiry into the help available for the thousands of children who run away or go missing from care every year.
He will gather evidence as part of a joint All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) Inquiry examining how children in care who run away or go missing are supported locally and nationally.
Children who go missing from care are in danger of being physically or sexually abused. Research by The Children’s Society reveals that a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse. They are also three times more likely to run away than other children, so developing a better understanding of, and response to these children, is critically important to improving their lives.
The inquiry, by the APPG for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, will look at issues around children in care who are placed away from their local authority, data collection and information sharing, police responses and the role of inspection and assessment. The first of four sessions will examine what safeguarding measures are in place for trafficked children who go missing from care. A report of the inquiry findings is set to be published in June.
At an Education Select Committee session, Alex questioned Education Secretary Michael Gove on what he plans to do to ensure such children are properly protected and removed to an appropriate place of safety, as well as provided with quality provision in all parts of the country. Mr Gove ensured Alex that a Government action plan would shortly be published on this and that he would be happy to appear on the panel.
“Children who run away or go missing place themselves in real danger. Far too often we fail these children, leaving them to face great risks of serious harm and abuse alone. This is simply unacceptable. They must be given a greater level of care and support.”
“Children in care are disproportionately affected and there is an urgent need to protect them more effectively. This inquiry aims to make a real impact on the lives of thousands of often very vulnerable children who run away from care every year, and I will do all I can to hold Michael Gove to his word and ensure the Government takes comprehensive action to tackle this problem.”