BABIES are among almost 5,000 children who have disappeared from council care in the past two years.
A boy only a few months old went missing nearly two years ago and has not been found. Another 18 babies also vanished, some for months at a time.
Experts described the figures as “alarming” and accused councils of leaving some youngsters at risk from child abusers.
Tom Rahilly, head of strategy for looked-after children at the NSPCC, said: “When children and young people in care go missing it should be no different to when any other child disappears from home.This is very alarming.”
Figures obtained under freedom of information laws show at least 4,852 looked-after children were reported missing between January 2012 and December 2013.
Many disappeared on more than one occasion, with a total of 24,320 cases logged.
Of the 138 councils in England and Wales which responded, 34 provided detailed data showing there were 992 cases of children absent for at least five days, 34 missing for at least six months, and eight for more than a year.
While the vast majority were teenagers, those who disappeared included six toddlers and dozens of children aged 4-9.