Boy missing three weeks before cops called
A child under the care of the State Government was missing for three weeks over the Christmas period before police were notified of his disappearance.
The 15-year-old boy was under the care of the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs when he went missing on December 16, yet astonishingly, was not reported to police as a missing person until January 8.
The boy, who is from the Darling Downs region, was located on January 14 - six days after the Queensland Police Service became involved in the search - more than four weeks after his disappearance.
Under the Child Protection Act, the Department is unable to comment on individual cases, however a spokesperson for the Department said police were only alerted of a missing child under state care "after all reasonable attempts to find a child or young person have failed."
"Where there are concerns around a child in care's whereabouts, Child Safety staff work closely with carers and other partner agencies to search relevant locations and alert the child or young person's network to the situation," the spokesperson said.
"A child safety officer will reach out and attempt to contact the child on each day he or she is missing.
"After all reasonable attempts to find a child or young person have failed, and there are concerns for the safety or welfare of that child, they are formally reported missing to police."
The spokesperson said every instance of a missing child was taken seriously, and said all carers and staff are made aware of what to do when a child in care goes missing.
"Where a child is reported missing, a Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) team protocol is activated to co-ordinate a multi-agency response," the spokesperson said.
"Police and Child Safety staff also have access to the Our Child response system which is a secure, real-time, multi-agency information sharing platform to support police and Child Safety to rapidly locate children in care who have been reported as missing. Use of Our Child has resulted in a reduction in the time police spend gathering and sharing relevant information while investigating the missing child."
It comes as the latest Report on Government Services shows an increase in the numbers of children mistreated in care - the highest number since 2012-13.
Numbers of children reported to the system continued to grow to 23,266 in 2019-20, with 28 per cent substantiated and 11,570 on protection orders.
Commencement of investigation continues to be slow - 40 per cent not commenced for at least 29 days and 42 per cent taking more than 90 days to complete.
Originally published as Boy in Child Safety care missing three weeks before cops called