The 116000 Missing Children Hotline is operated by the ISPCC in liaison with a cross-sectoral Project Team, chaired by the DCYA. The ISPCC has been successful in securing EU Daphne funding to support the establishment of the line. The ISPCC also submitted an application for funding to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to cover the establishment and running of the Hotline. This application has been approved for 2012 and 2013. Future applications for running costs will be considered in the context of the annual budget estimates process. The funding received from both the EU Daphne fund and from DCYA includes the establishment costs, the national promotion and advertisement of this Hotline service.
The promotion of the Hotline has been ongoing since the service opened in 2012. There have been numerous press releases issued by the DCYA and the ISPCC, the 116 000 Missing Children Hotline has been covered in the print (9 articles) and broadcast (6 radio stations) media since opening in May 2012. There has also been an on-going website and social media presence utilising ISPCC, Facebook and Twitter to highlight the service as well as information on missing children. ISPCC staff and volunteers have worked to disseminate posters in local areas and posters have been distributed nationally by the Gardaí.
Memoranda of understanding between the ISPCC and the HSE, my Department and the Gardaí, respectively were finalised in advance of the commencement of the pilot in December 2012. Following a phased implementation of the service, which commenced in December 2012, operating on a reduced hours pilot basis, the 116000 Hotline became a full-time 24/7 service since Monday the 22nd of April 2013. It was officially launched on 5 June 2013. The 116000 missing children website (www.missingchildrenshotline.ie) was also launched on 5 June. The ISPCC will now escalate the promotion of this service, which will include promotion in schools. The Project Team will be kept informed on an on-going basis of the ISPCC's plans and activities related to awareness raising.
It is important to note that the 116000 number is not an emergency number. Emergency calls should always be directed to the 999/112 number in the first instance, where the relevant emergency responses, including the recently launched Garda Missing Children Amber Alert mechanism, may be activated. The establishment of the 116000 line will, however, be of valuable support and assistance to families of missing children and to missing children themselves.