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Missing Child

Safeguarding and Welfare Requirement: Child Protection

Providers must have and implement a policy, and procedures, to safeguard children.

Policy Statement

Children’s safety is our highest priority, both on and off the premises. Every attempt is made, through the implementation of our outings procedure and our exit/entrance procedure, to ensure the security of children is maintained at all times. In the unlikely event of a child going missing, our missing child procedure is followed.


Child going missing on the premises:

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing all staff are alerted.

  • A head count is carried out to make sure no other child has also gone astray.

  • Staff will carry out a thorough search of the playroom and playground.

  • Doors and gates are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.

  • Arrange a search of the school classrooms, other indoor areas and School grounds.

  • If the child is not found, the Supervisor calls the police immediately and reports the child as missing. If it is suspected that the child may have been abducted, the police are informed of this.

  • The parent(s)/carers are then called and informed. If they cannot be reached the child's emergency contact numbers are called.

  • A recent photo and a note of what the child is wearing is given to the police.

  • Our supervisor talks to our staff to find out when and where the child was last seen and records this.

  • Our supervisor contacts our chair and reports the incident. Our chair comes to the setting as soon as possible to carry out an investigation.

  • Complete an Incident Report as soon after the event as possible.

Child going missing on an outing:

This describes what to do when our staff have taken the group on an outing. What to do when a child goes missing from our Spring or Summer group outing may be a little different, as parents usually attend and are responsible for their own child.

  • The staff member in charge will take the mobile phone and a list of the children’s contact details.

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing, the staff members on the outing ask children to stand still  and carry out a headcount to ensure that no other child has gone astray.

  • One staff member searches the immediate vicinity, but does not search beyond that. Calls security if appropriate.

  • Our senior staff member on the outing contacts the police and reports that child as missing and contacts the childs parents/carers.

  • Our staff and any helpers take the remaining children back to the setting as soon as possible.

  • According to the advice of the police, a senior member of staff should remain at the site where the child went missing and wait for the police to arrive.

  • A description of what the child is wearing is given to the police.

  • Our supervisor contacts our chair and reports the incident. Our chair comes to our premises as soon as possible to carry out an investigation. An Incident Report should be completed as soon as possible.

  • Our staff keep calm and do not let the other children become anxious or worried.

The Investigation

  • Ofsted are informed as soon as possible and kept up-to-date with the investigation.

  • Our chair carries out a full investigation, taking written statements from all our staff and volunteers who were present.

  • Our supervisor, together with the chair speaks with the parent(s) and explains the process of the investigation.

  • The parent(s) may also raise a complaint with us or Ofsted.

  • Each member of staff present writes an incident report detailing:

  • The date and time of the incident.

  • Where the child went missing from e.g. the setting or an outing venue.

  • Which staff/children were in the premises/on the outing.

  • When the child was last seen in the premises/or on the outing, including the time it is estimated that the child went missing.

  • What has taken place in the premises or on the outing since the child went missing.

  • The report is counter-signed by the senior member of staff and the date and time added.

  • A conclusion is drawn as to how the breach of security happened.

  • If the incident warrants a police investigation, all our staff co-operate fully. In this case, the police will handle all aspects of the investigation, including interviewing staff and parents. Children’s social care may be involved if it seems likely that there is a child protection issue to address.

  • In the event of disciplinary action needing to be taken, Ofsted are advised.

  • The insurance provider is informed.

Managing People

  • Missing child incidents are very worrying for all concerned. Part of managing the incident is to try to keep everyone as calm as possible.

  • Our staff will feel worried about the child, especially the key person or the designated carer responsible for the safety of that child for the outing. They may blame themselves and their feelings of anxiety and distress will rise as the length of time the child is missing increases.

  • They may be the understandable target of parental anger and they may be afraid. Our supervisor ensures that any staff under investigation are not only fairly treated, but receive support while feeling vulnerable.

  • The parents will feel angry, and fraught. They may want to blame our staff and may single out one staff member over others; they may direct their anger at our supervisor. When dealing with a distraught and angry parent, there should always be two members of staff one of whom is our supervisor and the other should be our chair. No matter how understandable the parent’s anger may be, aggression or threats against our staff are not tolerated, and the police should be called.

  • The other children are also sensitive to what is going on around them. They too may be worried. Our remaining staff caring for them need to be focused on their needs and must not discuss the incident in front of them. They should answer children’s questions honestly, but also reassure them.

  • In accordance with the severity of the final outcome, our staff may need counselling and support. If a child is not found, or is injured, or worse, this will be a very difficult time. Our chair will use their discretion to decide what action to take.

  • Our staff must not discuss any missing child incident with the press without taking advice.

This Policy was adopted by Sparklers Pre-School


Sarah Hodges

Role of Signatory:

Pre-School Supervisor

Issue Date:

September 2023

Next Review Date:

October 2024

This Policy was approved by Sparklers Pre-School Committee


Role of Signatory:

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