From today, the government has made it illegal in England to house children up to the age of 15 in unregulated accommodation. This decision was made in February 2021 after pressure from across the sector, including our own ‘Regulate!’ campaign, but the government chose to exclude 16 and 17 year olds from the same protection.

Before the partial ban was announced, only 1.5% of children living in unregulated accommodation were under the age of 16 (90 out of 6,190 children on 31 March 2019).

The law states that establishments providing care and accommodation to children must register and be inspected as children’s homes, which means all those 16 and 17 year olds will continue to be denied care. New accommodation standards proposed by the Department for Education have deliberately omitted a right to care for these children.

Children in care will now face a new “cliff edge” of care. The day before they turn 16, a child will be entitled to care. The next day, that same child could be moved into an environment where they are denied care.

We support the children’s sector’s #KeepCaringTo18 campaign, which is united in its call that if a child is being looked after by the state, they should receive care – up to at least 18 years. We have also been working with BBC Newsnight, who have campaigned tirelessly against the use of unregulated accommodation, to share young people’s experiences in these settings.

If you agree that the government should guarantee that children in its care are card for up to age 18, you can help:

NYAS pledge to the children and young people we support that we will not stop campaigning for your right to be cared for. If you are reading our blog as a child or young person who is concerned about what this change will mean for you, we encourage you to contact our helpline on 0808 808 1001 or

Rita Waters, NYAS Group CEO (England and Wales) said: “We are appalled to see 16 and 17 year olds excluded from the guarantee of the care and security that the care system exists to provide. The government is failing thousands of children who deserve to be properly cared for. We continue to urge the government to ban unregulated accommodation for all children. I ask anyone delaying or denying the need for a ban, would you be comfortable placing your own child in an unregulated home?”