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Runaway Children: Protection

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding his Department allocated to initiatives to ensure the safety of child runaways in each of the last three years. (204469)

The lead responsibility for responding to the needs of young people who have run away from home/care, including funding local initiatives if appropriate, lies with local authorities under their broader responsibilities to safeguard vulnerable young people. The Department does not routinely fund local provision, but has made funding (totalling £410,500 in 2006/07 and 2007/08) available to the London Refuge, following on from the community-based refuge pilots, to support the Refuge while they develop alternative sustainable funding sources.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of all children and young people, including those who run away from home or care, is important to this Government. In 2002, £2 million was committed over three years to pilot community based refuges for young runaways, with a subsequent evaluation of these pilots. In 2006/07, £31,000 was given to The Children's Society to support their research on how effectively local authorities were responding to the needs of young runaways.

Following The Children's Society report “Stepping Up” (August 2007) a cross- departmental working group on young runaways was established, supported by a consultative group made up of experts from the voluntary sector, to drive improvements in services for young runaways. An action plan, to be published in June, will set out ongoing actions to improve services at local, regional and national level.