Keep Caring to 18
We believe that every child in care should be guaranteed care up to the age of 18 but new government legislation will leave thousands of children without care every year.
New legislation will ban councils from putting children aged 15 or younger in unregulated accommodation such as bedsits, flats and shared housing.
But, ministers say 16 and 17 year-olds don’t need this protection and they can manage in accommodation where they don’t receive any care.
This decision has let down thousands of children and is a serious blow to the many organisations and care experienced people who have been campaigning for better regulation.
We must speak out and call on the government to #KeepCaringTo18. Will you join us?
Following widespread concerns highlighted in BBC Newsnight’s ‘Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes’ programme the Department for Education started a public consultation on regulating semi-independent and independent accommodation for children in care and care leavers. The government’s consultation closed in early June 2020.
In September 2020, the Children’s Commissioner for England published a report about children in care living in unregulated accommodation. This report reiterated the concerns about very vulnerable children being exploited and abused in unregulated accommodation that were raised by BBC Newsnight. The Children’s Commissioner recommended that the use of semi-independent and independent provision should be made unlawful for all children in care:
“No child under the age of 18 should be placed in an unregulated setting. All children aged under 18 should receive care, rather than support. As such, there should be a requirement that any setting they are placed in is regulated as a children’s home”.
On 19 February 2021, the government announced that it will only ban unregulated accommodation for children in care aged 15 and under (to be brought into force in September 2021).
Only 1.5% of children living in semi-independent and independent accommodation are under the age of 16 (90 out of 6,190 children on 31 March 2019), meaning the government’s proposals leave the vast majority of children in this kind of accommodation without care. This is because the law states that establishments providing care and accommodation to children must register and be inspected as children’s homes.
The Department for Education is going to consult during 2021 on national standards for unregulated accommodation for 16- and 17-year-olds in care, intending for it to become regulated via an “Ofsted-led registration and inspection scheme”. These new national standards will deliberately omit care. This is because establishments which provide children with care and accommodation must register as children’s homes and be inspected by Ofsted.
Campaign steering group
Ali Gunn, Together Trust
Carolyne Willow, Article 39
David Graham, The Care Leavers’ Association
Eloïse Di Gianni, Just for Kids Law
Jacki Rothwell, retired social worker and children's rights campaigner
Joy Bradley, independent consultant (children’s residential care)
Dr Lynn Brady, independent advocate and independent person for Children Act complaints
Mohamed Mohamed, care leaver and supported accommodation worker
Pat Leeson, National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO)
Sam Turner, Become
Terry Galloway, Norman Galloway Homes
What we're calling for
- If a child is being looked after by the state, they should receive care – up to at least 18 years.
- All children need care for their wellbeing and development, and this can be provided alongside respect for growing autonomy.
- Children, young people and care leavers must be at the heart of policy development in this area. This includes those who are currently in secure settings and those who have had extremely difficult experiences in care.
- All forms of accommodation for looked after children must be regulated and inspected.
- The regulation of supported accommodation for looked after children must include a guarantee of care.
- The government must provide sufficient financial resources for local authorities to meet their statutory duties to all looked after children.