Guidance to local authorities on how to respond appropriately to the needs of young people who run away was published by the Department of Health, the Department which then had responsibility for children’s services, in 2002. As part of the commitments made in the Young Runaways Action Plan, this guidance is currently being updated, and a draft version is out for formal consultation, in advance of publication later this year.
Running away should be seen as an indicator of an underlying problem for a young person which may need further intervention. Many children who run away from home are likely to be children in need requiring support and services provided by local authorities or by voluntary organisations acting on their behalf. Most runaways will return home; where it is inappropriate for them to do so, it is for the local authority to ensure that they are appropriately cared for.
The new guidance will clearly set out local authorities’ responsibilities relating to providing emergency accommodation for young people who have run away. It will reflect the emerging findings of the current review into the provision of emergency accommodation for young people. This review will help local authorities identify successful and cost effective forms of provision, and young people’s perceptions of different types of emergency accommodation.