The government has announced it will ban placing vulnerable children under the age of 16 in unregulated accommodation from September onwards.
The announcement by the Department for Education follows a consultation last year on improving provisions for children and young people in care.
The Whitehall department has today (19 February) published its response to the consultation, which makes clear that while independent and semi-independent provision can be the right option for some older children, children aged under 16 are too young for this type of accommodation.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has also announced that plans will be developed to support local authorities in creating more places in children’s homes.
He also confirmed that he will be moving forward with plans for legislating at the earliest opportunity to give Ofsted new powers to take enforcement action against illegal unregistered providers, who should be registered as children’s homes but are operating without the correct registration in place.
‘The action taken today – supported by the sector and in response to their views – is an important step in making sure children in care are placed in settings that give them the highest chances of success,’ said Mr Williamson.
‘We know that for some older young people, independent or semi-independent accommodation can be right in helping them transition to adult life – but these settings need to be consistently high quality. We cannot be complacent about the standards we expect to be met for children in our care.’
Responding to the announcement, the chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, Cllr Judith Blake said: ‘Today’s announcements are positive steps towards ensuring that all children in care live in good quality homes that meet their needs and help them to thrive.
‘A key driver for the increasing use of unregulated placements for children under 16 is a lack of suitable regulated homes. The government’s commitment to funding to increase children’s homes provision, which we have previously called for, is therefore a helpful recognition of the pressures on placements.’
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