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YOUNG RUNAWAYS 'UPPERMOST IN DIRECTORS' MINDS'

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Youngsters who run away from home - either from their own homes or from...
Youngsters who run away from home - either from their own homes or from

local authority care homes - need 'undivided support to ensure that all

the emotional and psychological difficulties they face are attended to

promptly and effectively,' according to directors of social services.

Commenting on the launch of a Social Exclusion Unit report on young

runaways*, ADSS president David Behan said: 'This is an honest,

constructive report, and one which reflects the need to apply the best

local authority practice in this field right across the board. Its

recommendations are well-balanced, and if properly implemented should

see a timely improvement in the quality of care for a small but

dreadfully vulnerable group of children and young people.'

Congratulating the unit for bringing 'clarity and purpose' to an area of

care which needs the effective co-ordination of many public services, Mr

Behan singled out plans to oblige local authorities and police services

to:

- Nominate lead officers with responsibilities to youngsters who run

away,

- Improve the monitoring and management arrangements planned for

children missing from care,

- Provide a common approach to assessment.

And he particularly praised the report's argument that additional

support should be made available to 16 and 17 year old children who,

having run away, found it difficult to return to their family homes.

'Currently, these young adolescents are frighteningly vulnerable, often

taking to a life on the streets rather than face the traumas that life

at home might bring them. The SEU is right to draw attention to them,

and to encourage all local and national services to focus on the

difficulties they face.

'There is no doubt,' he said, 'that these recommendations have

significant resource implications for social services and other

agencies, and these will be debated in appropriate forums. Working with

other agencies and the department of health to bring as many of these

proposals into operation over the coming years will be uppermost in

social services directors' minds.'

The direction the SEU report takes, he added, 'closely mirrors the work

ADSS has done with the Local Government Association and the NHS

Confederation in preparing our new, collective vision for children's

services*, and very much points the way in which those services must

develop over the coming five to ten years.'

* See LGCnet.

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