What is the NYAS Return Home Interview Service?

NYAS has over eight years of experience delivering return home interviews, having provided this service for children and young people across England and Wales.

We can provide a contracted or spot purchase return interview service to local authority teams across England and Wales. Our return home interviews are available to support any child or young person aged 17 or under who has been reported as ‘missing’.

This includes children and young people who do not have an allocated social worker, such as children subject to child in need or child protection plans as well as those who are children looked after and those children and young people who are not open to social work. If a young person is looked after, our network of independent professionals can offer a Return Home Interview

What Is A Return Home Interview? 

A return home interview is an in-depth conversation with a young person who has run away and been reported as missing to the police. It should be led by an independent, trained professional who is local to where the young person lives. 

The conversation will help identify the reasons why the young person went missing, where they have been, who they have been with and what they were doing. This is important to determine if the young person has been at risk during the time they were missing or are vulnerable to harm in any way. Return home interviews help us to identify any support young people might need to help keep them or others safe.

The statutory guidance states that local authorities must offer an independent return home interview to all children who run away or go missing from their family home or care. Interviews should be offered within 72 hours of them being returned ‘home’ or to a place of safety. 

The reason for the 72 hours timescale is that although not all missing young people are at risk of harm, until they have had the opportunity to discuss what happened and why, this may not be known. Therefore, it is important to have this conversation as soon as possible.

Although all missing young people must be offered a return home interview, they can choose not to accept this and the reasons for this decision should be documented.

Parental consent is not required because return home interviews are a statutory safeguarding function. However, a discussion with parents will take place for primary school age children or where it is felt that a young person is unable to provide their own consent.

What Happens After a Return Home Interview?

Following a return home interview, it is best practice to give feedback to another relevant practitioner (school safeguarding staff, social worker etc.) or a parent or carer depending on what has been discussed. 

If safeguarding concerns are identified, they will be communicated to an already allocated social worker. In addition, and if appropriate, information will be shared with the police and/or other agencies.

If additional support for the young person is needed, a conversation will be held with someone already working with them in order to facilitate this. This could be staff at school or college, a social worker, an early help practitioner or a youth justice worker. 

It is usually more appropriate for this work to be carried out by those with a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of the needs of the young person and their family. However, the return home interview service will also make referrals wherever necessary.

Further Questions

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