A “worrying” increase in the number of children going missing from care placements has been highlighted by a landmark Ofsted investigation into adoption and foster homes.
The figures indicate that rising numbers of vunlerable children are at risk of sexual exploitation and drug addiction.
The Ofsted report found that the number of new households prepared to adopt a child has increased by nine per cent this year.
But the number of children to “going missing” from foster homes has also increased, by 19 per cent. There were 9,480 reported incidents of children disappearing from foster care, involving some 3,151 children last year.
More than half of the children were missing for less than 24 hours with others leaving for periods between one week and 28 days.
“There is a worrying increase in the number of times children in foster care go missing,” said John Goldup, the Ofsted Deputy Chief Inspector, introducing the report. “We think it will have a significant impact on the current debate about improving the performance of the adoption system.”
Tom Rahilly, head of the NSPCC’s Looked After Children programme, said: “These children are at risk of harm, including being targeted by sex offenders who prey on vulnerable individuals.
“Sadly this is a long standing problem which needs urgent attention. If we are to give foster children the protection they deserve we must tackle all instances of poor care and provide better support for their carers.”
Ofsted said it would examine the issue “in depth” in a report on the issue early next year.