Lost or missing child

Principle and statement of intent

At Bumbles Day Care children’s safety is maintained as the highest priority at all times, and we have written policies to ensure the security and safety of children in our care. These policies include: Arrival & Departure, General Health & Safety, Outings & Community Links and Security. By adhering to these policies & procedures, as well as knowing our children, giving them boundaries, ensuring that all our outings are risk assessed, planned and appropriately supervised and taking regular head counts we can minimise the risk of a child going missing.

Whilst a lost or missing child is a rarity, complacency is a hazard we must avoid at all costs. Even when all precautions are properly observed, emergencies can still arise. EVERY member of Bumbles staff has equal responsibility in ensuring the safety of the children and knowing where they are.

The aims of this policy statement is to give all staff and volunteers a clear understanding of how to respond and who to inform should they discover a child is missing.

Procedure in the event of a child lost/missing on Bumbles premises.

  • As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing the Manager/Deputy Manager and the rest of the staff team must be informed.
  • The Manager/Deputy Manager will carry out a thorough search of the premises, ensuring that doors and gates are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.
  • The register is checked to make sure no other child has also gone astray.
  • Incident procedures will be implemented and the Director will be informed to assist with the search of the premises and surrounding area.
  • The staff will be careful not to create an atmosphere of panic and to ensure that the other children remain safe and adequately supervised.
  • If the child cannot be found within fifteen minutes then the Director or Manager/Deputy Manager will inform the police and then the child’s parent/carer.
  • While waiting for the police and the parent/carer to arrive, searches for the child will continue. During this period, other staff members will maintain as normal a routine as is possible for the rest of the children in our care.
  • The Director or Manager/Deputy Manager will be responsible for meeting the police and the missing child’s parent/carer. The Director or Manager/Deputy Manager will co-ordinate any actions instructed by the police, and do all that they can to comfort and reassure the parents/carers.

Procedure in the event of a child lost/missing on an Outing/Visit

  • One member of staff should search the surrounding area, whilst remaining staff ensure that the rest of the children are accounted for, safe and supervised.
  • The staff on the outing will notify the Manager/Deputy Manager of the situation and keep them informed of progress. The Manager/Deputy Manager will contact the Director.
  • Where appropriate, the manager of the visited area to be informed and assistance sought in locating the missing child.
  • In the event the child is not found quickly, within 10 minutes, the police will be informed.
  • The Director or Manager/Deputy Manager will inform the parents/carers and will also arrange for the remaining children to be brought back to Bumbles whilst ensuring a member of staff remains at location to wait and assist the police.


  • Once the incident has been resolved the Manager/Deputy Manager will carry out a full investigation taking written statements from all the staff involved, and writing an incident report detailing:
  • The date and time of the incident.
  • What staff/children were there and the name of the staff designated responsible for the missing child.
  • When the child was last seen in Bumbles/on outing.
  • What has taken place since the child went missing.
  • The time it is estimated that the child went missing.
  • A conclusion is drawn as to how the breach of security happened.
  • If the incident warrants a police investigation, all staff co-operate fully. In this case, the police will handle all aspects of the investigation including, interviewing staff. Children’s Social Care may be involved if it seems likely that there is a child protection issue to address.
  • Bumbles Management team along with the Policy Development Administrator will carry out a review of all relevant policies & procedures and implement any necessary changes (paying particular note to relevant Risk Assessment policies).
  • If as a result of the investigation it is found that any member of staff was negligent in their duties, then the appropriate disciplinary action would be taken.
  • The Manager will provide detailed reports of the incident as required either by police, the Parents/Carers of lost/missing child, and Social Services.

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.

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

Staff may be the understandable target of parental anger and they may be afraid. The Management team need to ensure that 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 staff and may single out one staff member over others; they may direct their anger at the setting leader. When dealing with a distraught and angry parent, there should always be two members of staff, one of whom is a member of the Management team and the other should be the Director. No matter how understandable the parent’s anger may be, aggression or threats against staff are not tolerated, and if necessary the police should be called.