Missing children and young people

Follow this procedure when a child or young person subject to child protection involvement goes missing.
Document ID number 1515, version 4, 30 June 2022.

Children involved with Child Protection and community service organisations (CSOs) or Aboriginal community controlled organisations (ACCOs) may engage in high risk behaviours such as running away, being absent from placement without approval or going missing. Lengthy and/or repeated episodes of missing can indicate an increase of risk to the child.

In addition to the direct responses to missing events, including seeking a warrant and making a missing persons report to police, there are additional case practice tasks required in relation to children with a history of going missing.  

For additional information please see Missing children and young people - advice.

If a missing persons report, Children’s Court search warrant, or missing persons media release is required please follow Missing persons report - advice, Missing persons report - procedure, Publication of identifying details - advice and Publication of identify details - procedure.


Case practitioner tasks

  • Document a response plan for any child who goes missing that includes:
    • the nominated person/s who will be responsible for the return to care conversation with the child
    • arrangements for a return to care conversation to occur within 48 hours of the child’s return
    • how the return to care conversation will be reported to the case manager.
  • Document the outcome of the return to care conversation on CRIS.
  • Seek information from the care team and any other relevant individuals to formulate a risk assessment of the child’s missing episode. For shared clients with Youth Justice, consult with the young person’s youth justice worker.
  • Update the relevant essential information categories, including child characteristics with information and evidence relating to the child’s missing episode. Consider evidence-based factors such as ‘changes in behaviour’, and ‘risk taking behaviours’.
  • Consider completing a review risk assessment
  • Document the following on CRIS:
    • concerns/risks for child while missing
    • people or locations the child is likely to have contact with or visit when missing  
    • a detailed response plan to guide practitioners and professionals on specific tasks to locate the child
    • After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service (AHCPES) considerations for existing safety plans plan
    • plans to re-engage the child when located including the return to care conversation
    • plans to prevent the child from going missing and increase their connection to their placement
    • arrangements for providing any updates to Victoria Police.

NOTE: The Repeat missing profile (RMP) (include link) may be used as a tool to support case mangers undertake a risk assessment of children with repeat missing behaviours. See also Missing children and young people – advice.

  • Complete a sexual exploitation information template if it is believed or confirmed that the child has been sexually exploited while missing, including:
    • a chronology of the dates and times the child has been missing
    • brief information about the child’s presentation prior to and following them being missing
    • the believed or confirmed location of the child when missing and persons they were believed or confirmed to have had contact with.
  • Document responses to the child’s missing behaviours and strategies for prevention in any safety plans. Where a child is in care, ensure the service provider has updated any behaviour support plans and the care and placement plan.
  • When required, complete a weekly missing update for the Area review process.

Team manager/senior practitioner (supervisory) tasks

  • Support the case manager to actively participate in the child’s care team when missing behaviour has been identified.
  • Support the case manager to undertake ongoing engagement with  relevant professionals (police, residential care providers, therapeutic staff)  about the child’s missing response plan.
  • Follow the case plan preparation and review following the making of a protection order procedure and schedule a review of the case plan where there are significant risks to the child’s day to day safety and stability a result of their missing behaviours (this should be considered as a ‘change in circumstances’ and trigger a case plan review). 

Area executive director task

  • Implement a review process for monitoring and oversight of all children actively missing from care.