The number of children who run away from foster care jumped significantly in the year to March, new figures from Ofsted indicate.
A total of 4,245 children ran away from their foster families over the year, the inspectorate reports – a full 900 more than in the previous year. Those 4,000 children ran way on 13,305 occasions – a total which is 36 per cent higher than in the previous year.
Two thirds of the children going missing had fled foster placements arranged by independent agencies, while only one third of the runaways were in local authority placements.
Close to half the runaways went missing to see their family and friends and the majority were only missing for a day.
More than 400, however, had drug and alcohol problems and more than 500 were thought to be at risk of sexual exploitation, the BBC reports.
In addition, the figures suggest an increase of more than a fifth in the number of foster placements ‘breaking down’ – coming to an end due to problems.
A government spokesman said councils now had a duty to interview runaway children within 72 hours of them returning.
Many of the victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham were foster care runaways.
Ofsted inspects and regulates services for children and young people.
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