NYAS has today written to the Department for Education calling for a ban on unregulated accommodation for all children in care, as a way to better safeguard more than 6,000 children currently living in these settings. The ban was put forward as part of NYAS’ response to the DfE’s public consultation.
Corporate parents have a duty to act in the best interests of children when deciding where they should live. The steep increase in unregulated placements, and the fears this has created among care-experienced young people, suggest that the wishes and feelings of children in care are not being properly considered.
NYAS has therefore made the following urgent proposals to the DfE:
• Ban the use of unregulated accommodation for all children in care. All children must be protected, so any new standards must include 16 and 17-year-olds in care.
• Care-experienced children and young people must be meaningfully consulted, to directly shape the standards that will affect their lives. NYAS is working to facilitate care-experienced advisory groups or forums to address specific questions related to the introduction of the new standards.
• Accommodation providers must be accountable, subjected to independent regulation by Reg.44 visitors and inspection by Ofsted.
• Any new standards for accommodation must be enforceable, enshrined in legislation or statutory instruments.
NYAS has urged the DfE to include the following in addition to their proposed new standards for accommodation: an active offer of advocacy for children entering semi-independent or independent living, a ‘do no harm’ principle, a requirement for residential visiting advocacy, and the extension of funding for Independent Visitor befrienders beyond a young person’s 18th birthday. If adopted, these measures would uphold the rights of care-experienced children and young people and make them safer.
To bring accommodation within the existing regulatory framework, NYAS has further advised that every provider must be subjected to formal Reg.44 visits, where an independent person writes a monthly report on how the home is operating, listing any concerns and agreeing an action plan with the providers. This would complement Ofsted inspections, and NYAS also suggested that providers could access funds from the Government to ease the shift to regulation.
Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive, commented that: “Meeting the standards that we have outlined may come with challenges, but they will be insignificant compared with those faced by children and young people living in unregulated accommodation, who live every day without a guarantee of the safety and security that the care system should exist to provide. We urge the UK Government to ban unregulated accommodation for all children in care. I ask anyone delaying or denying the need for a ban, would you be comfortable placing your child in an unregulated home?”
You can also respond to the public consultation which on unregulated accommodation, which has been extended and is set to close on 3rd June 2020.
Details of the NYAS Regulate campaign