Missing from Care: Rethinking our approach to children who go missing in Out-Of-Home-Care

Katherine McFarlane, Emma Colvin, Alison Gerard, Andrew McGrath

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Paper


Research conducted with residential care and criminal justice professionals in New South Wales, Australia, has raised concerns about how we respond to children who go missing from care. These children are often viewed as problematic and delinquent rather than as vulnerable children in need. Dismissed as merely 'absent without permission' or as 'self-placers', some children who go missing are viewed distinct from, and less worthy than, children who are seen as 'genuinely missing'. This places children who go missing from care at risk of harm and renders them susceptible to inadequate agency responses. This paper explores the dichotomy whereby systems in place designed to protect children can instead lead to devastating outcomes for those who go missing from care, contributing to the cohort's overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, high rates of youth homelessness, and, as occurred in Rotherham in the UK, in the potentially catastrophic failure to act on organised child sexual exploitation and trafficking. system.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 National Missing Persons Conference : Missing People: Challenges and Opportunities - Mercure Sydney Hotel, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 15 Nov 201716 Nov 2017


Conference2017 National Missing Persons Conference
Abbreviated titleNMPC2017


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