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Independent Missing Return Home Interview Service

Indpendent Missing Return Home Interviews (MRHI) for Children and Young People

Please download our MRHI Commissioning Letter HERE.

Our Independent Return Interview service is fully aligned to the DfE's Statutory guidance on Children who Run Away or go Missing from Home or Care (2014), and The Children's Homes (England) Regulations 2015 (Regulation 34 (4)(b)). We are also committed to working closely with multi-agency partners, to ensure that our service offer meets the needs of local protocols. 

Section 13 of the Children Act 2004 requires Local Authorities and statutory partners to ensure that their duties are discharged with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Children. Statutory guidance requires that when a child is found, and returned home after running away, they must be offered an Independent Return Interview within 72 hours of their return. The interview should be undertaken by a non-statutory provider. 

For Looked After Children, it is the responsibility of the Residential Children's Home Manager, Social Worker and placing Authority to ensure that a Return Interview takes place.

SALT's Independent Missing Return Interview Service, offers a child-centered, high quality Return Interview with an experienced practitioner, with the purpose of identifying and reporting any harm a child may have suffered whilst absent from care, and to try to understand and address the ‘push pull’ factors surrounding the child’s missing episode. 

Using our comprehensive Missing Return Framework, an experienced interviewer will meet with the child referred to us, within an agreed timescale, at a location where the child feels emotionally safe. The interviewer will help the child or young person to explore alternative options to running away, and provide sensitive guidance and support through an information-seeking interview. Interviewers will offer Children and Young People practical information and advice to help them to ‘Keep Safe’ if they continue to choose to engage in patterns of absence and missing.

Additional or follow up time may also be agreed in advance of the interview, to support children with considering alternative strategies to running away, through the co-development of a child/teenage-friendly SMART Action Plan, entitled #BSTS (Better Safe Than Sorry). This practical intervention encourages Children and Young People to ‘Stop, Think and Seek Support’ rather than running away. 

Follow up Missing Return Interventions are available as part of a pre-agreed package. Interventions are planned from a multi-agency perspective, incorporating the views, wishes and feelings of children, families, practitioners, carers and foster parents, to support more positive outcomes. 

Note: Return interviews are only effective with an appropriate follow up plan, and the offer of unconditional support from primary care givers, to help a child or young person to begin to manage and understand the ‘cause, effect and dangers’ of them running away, and the risks that they may face whilst they are missing from home. #BSTS offers a planned, structured and proactive approach to meaningful, follow-up support, and tailored intervention. 

An Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) and our updated Privacy Notice (GDPR) will be signed as part of the pre service commisioning arrangements, ensuring that data protection, confidentiality and safeguarding responsibilities are adhered to by all parties. Relevant information disclosed by the Child or Young Person will be shared with the Local Safeguarding Children's Board, the Police, Children's Services and other identified professionals as per the ISA. A comprehensive Return Report will be provided directly to the service commissioner, ensuring that Ofsted Standards; (2015:57 (d)) and Children's Homes Regulations DfE; (2015:9.30) are adhered to. The Seven Golden Rules for Information Sharing are considered throughout our practice. DfE (2015)

Return Interview Service 

Statutory Guidance (DfE; 2014) on children who run away or go missing states that when a child is found or returns to their home or placement, they should be offered an Independent Return Interview within 72 hours of their return. (DfE; 2014:14). Guidance states that this should be an in-depth interview that is best carried out by an independent person – someone not involved in caring for the child. 

Our Return Interviews are tailored to proactively engage children and young people in this important review process. 

In line with Statutory Guidance, we offer: 

  • A Return Interview Framework developed by professionals
  • A ‘What Works’ approach to engagement
  • Fully qualified and experienced interviewers
  • A keen focus on building a rapport with Children and Young People
  • An activity based approach to actively engage Children and Young People
  • Formative and dynamic assessment of the interview process to positively influence information gathering
  • A theoretically informed interview process
  • Robust follow-up on identified risks and actions that emerge in line with the ISA
  • Follow up interventions where commissioned

Offering a collaborative, participative and strengths based interview process, our interview framework has been developed using interactive techniques, devised through a ‘what works’ approach to engaging Children and Young People. SALT particularly recognises the sensitivity and importance surrounding the Missing Return Interview process and our Return Interviews have been carefully developed with an unconditional focus on ‘The Child’s Voice’. 

SALT provides the essential requirements of an Independent Missing Return Interview in line with the following aims to:

  • Identify children and young people that are at risk of significant harm
  • Understand the risks that the child was exposed to during a missing episode
  • Explore the ‘Triggers’ for the missing episode and the ‘push/pull’ feelings
  • Reduce and prevent the risks of further episodes of running away
  • Provide risk reduction and ‘Stay Safe’ advice if a child chooses to run away again
  • Identify risk patterns, and share relevant information with key professionals to Safeguard Children and Young People from further risk or harm DFE Statutory Guidance (DfE; 2014:18)

Using our Safe Return Matrix providers and placing authorities can be confident that children are being dynamically assessed and any safeguarding needs that are identified are shared with relevant agencies.

SALT Independent Missing Return Interviews have been devised and informed by education, health and social care practitioners, and offer a comprehensive risk rating system based our Safe Return Matrix. 

In line with Statutory Guidance (DfE; 2014) on Children Who Run Away or go Missing from Home or Care’, SALT is in a unique position to offer professionally experienced Independent Missing Return Interviewers to meet with Children and Young People within 72 hours of their return to their home or care setting. 

Our child centered, and young people focused approach, to this important interview process, is your assurance that crucial information will be gathered and recorded to support placement stability, offer future containment, and enhance Safeguarding support for Children and Young People. 

We recognise the important roles that schools play in developing and maintaining relationships with children and young people that go missing. We are able to visit the child on the school site, in support of a more neutral base for the child or young person that has returned. Our interviewers can liaise directly with the school to make the most appropriate and timely arrangements, within the required DfE, (2014:35) 72 hour timeframe. Return Interviews can also be undertaken outside of the school or college day, at an appropriate and emotionally safe venue, in support of planned educational activities and to protect the child's access to formal learning.

If you would like to commission a ‘Return Interview Service' or book a Service Introduction Meeting with a Specialist Advisor, please call us directly on: 01948 838108 or email our 'Quick Form' link below. 

Running Ahead

Our nationally accredited training programme offers candidates access to our high quality, child-centered, Missing Return Interview Framework. This Framework has been robustly developed to proactively engage children and young people with the purpose of identifying and reporting any harm a child may have suffered whilst absent from home and/or care, and to try to understand and address the ‘push pull’ factors surrounding the child’s missing episode through our child-focused RELATIONSHIPS© Model.

The Level 3 Award in ‘Undertaking Independent Missing Return Interviews for Children’ has been carefully researched, written and developed by Shropshire Academy and Learning Trust in conjunction with NOCN, a leading provider of high quality qualifications, apprenticeships and assessments.

Practice Model HERE 

Case Study HERE

Training Commencement and Bookings

Training is being delivered across the countryon a regionally commissioned basis. 

Next Training Dates: Localised Upon Request 

Please contact us directly: if you require candidate places. 

This is a 3-day intense training course. Dates are scheduled for 3-consecutive days' of training.

Sample: Please download our Learner Introduction Letter for Level 3 Training Services HERE.

The NOCN Qualification and Assessment Specification can be found HERE. 

The link to our one page printable training service flyer can be found HERE.

Sample:Course Joining Instructions for Learners 

Shropshire Academy and Learning Trust

NOCN Level 3 Course Training Pack

Qualification No: 603/3231/1

Folder 1

Course Welcome and Joining Instructions 


  1. Booking Form 
  2. Joining Instructions 
  3. Learner Entry Requirements Disclaimer Letter – For Learner completion and Return Upon Receipt of Joining Instructions 


Folder 2 

Directions to the venue  


  1. To be advised 


Folder 3 

Pre Course Reading 


  1. Statutory Guidance on Children Who Run Away or go Missing from Home or Care
  2. Statutory Guidance Flowchart 
  3. Conducting Good Return Interviews for Children Who Run Away 


Folder 4 

Qualification and Assessment Specification 


  1. Qualification and Assessment Specification


From February 2020 

Principles of the Missing Child Interview Process 

One Awards Quality Mark 


National Awarding Body Approved by One Awards (part of the NOCN Group) 

One-Day, Awarding Body Certified Training Course, carefully developed with a knowledge-based curriculum to ensure that; Foster Carers, Social Workers, Residential Child-Care Practitioners, Police, Public Services, Health and Education providers understand their duty in supporting the child’s access to an independent interviewer. 

Designed specifically to raise awareness and understanding regarding this important safeguarding process, whilst ensuring that professionals are confident in their knowledge, when advocating for a Looked After Child’s Statutory entitlement. 

Module Guide HERE 


Covid-19 Missing Interviewer Support Space 

An online practitioner support platform facilitated via Microsoft Teams

Full Details HERE 

Contact Us

If you would like any further information regarding our Independent Missing Return Interview Service, or to schedule a Service Introduction Meeting, please email us at:, complete our 'Quick Form' below, or alternatively, during office hours, you can call the SALT Support Team on: 01948 838108.

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