The Children's Society Runaways Charter

At this time of year as many of us attend Christingle Services in church we are reminded of the important work that the Children’s Society does for our children and young people as often the collection at these services is donated to the work of  this important charity.

In the December edition of the St Bart’s: ‘Church & Village News’  Andrew Hill, Chair of Mission Links writes about an important new iniative  called the Runaways Charter – a clear code for agencies with a duty to protect children who run away or go missing from home and care. This prompted me to find out exactly what our own local authority, KCC ,is doing about this very important issue.

Jenny Whittle, Cabinet Member for Specialist Childrens’ Services says that she wholeheartedly supports the Children’s Society Runaways Charter, in fact Kent County Council (KCC) was one of the first councils to sign up and pledge support. The council had previously identified adolescents as a vulnerable group and is investing over £1 million in piloting multi-agency integrated adolescence teams to provide early intervention support.

The pilot is running in four areas across the county and there are currently 24 adolescent support workers working in these four pilot areas.  These support workers will provide a seamless service across both social services and youth offending not only to build and support effective and earlier intervention but also to provide a rapid response in meeting the needs of vulnerable young people.

The County Council has also commissioned a Crisis Intervention Service for 11 to 16 year olds to the value of £540,000 per annum.  The objective of this service is to work with families intensively when relationships are breaking down with the aim of keeping the young person at home or returning them home, if it is safe to do so.

We are also investing an additional £250,000 to provide intensive work for 16/17 year olds who are homeless-again to return them home, if it is safe to do so.

The County Council, in conjunction with Dartford Borough Council and the YMCA, also has access to a ‘crash pad’ –  which can be used as safe emergency accommodation by vulnerable young people as and when needed.

It is good to see that our own local authority is taking this issue very seriously.