Jakeb: My thoughts on unregulated accommodation
The new legislation that will come into effect in September will mean around 6000 children will be placed in accommodation without any care. This is highly problematic for many reasons. Firstly, many young people in the care system have experienced abuse and, or neglect. A great deal of the children placed in unregulated accommodation are fleeing persecution, war or terror and have arrived in the UK unaccompanied by an adult. Almost all will be experiencing trauma.
Secondly, a high percentage of young people placed in unregulated accommodation are there because local authorities are unable to find a children’s home for them because of their behaviour. The brains of children who experience abuse and neglect under the age of seven form differently. This means their coping strategies are different to people who grew up in the average loving family environment.
Only six percent of kids in the care system go to university which is much lower than kids who are at home with their parents. This number is increasing which is really good and that's positive and there are lots in place to support these young people to go to university but there's not much support for people who don't want to go to university as that is seen as one of the only measures of success for a young person leaving care.
- Care experienced people are 40 times more likely to go to prison than seven times more likely to die before the age of 25.
- They are something like 30 times more likely to be homeless
- Care experienced people are 30 times more likely to be involved in selling sex and sexual exploitation.
My point of sharing these statistics is not a judgment of young people in the care system. It is a judgment of the lack of care they receive. It is also the reason why young people fall through the cracks if you're placing 16 or 17-year-olds in accommodation that isn't regulated. This is because they don’t receive care, nurture and all the things you would expect in a loving family home – like rules and protection.
This places young people in a very vulnerable position where they will be open to exploitation. These young people don’t really have many adults looking out for them they are on a low income and isolated from everybody. They are at a huge risk of being befriended by people for nefarious reasons. They influence them with promises of easy cash and iPhones and iPads and laptops, new clothes or the latest trainers. Unfortunately, the young people in care are quite likely to get involved as they are looking for a connection so they are unlikely to ask “why”?
I feel the issue of unregulated accommodation is morally reprehensible, it shouldn't take place. Even with promises of new standards I don't think anybody would put their child into that type of accommodation, without any care and protection and expect them to be successful and have good outcomes.
The government says that people are coming into the care system later in life, which might be true but does that not mean that they've been in an abusive and neglectful situation probably for much longer? Have they not experienced more trauma and more pain? Unless there is care and substantial therapeutic, financial, emotional and intellectual these young people will still have huge barriers to overcome so they can succeed in life like anyone who grows up with their mum and dad.
They are already starting off from a disadvantage and there's absolutely no rationale to place young people who are 16 plus in this type of accommodation. They need to be fully cared for up until they're 21, if they want to be, or at least until they're 18 when they are legally considered to be an adult. In America, you are considered a child until you are 21.
I'm angry, upset and heartbroken that this is taking place and the government doesn’t recognise the consequences of creating a two-tier care system. It really does need to change.
We’ve got the care review taking place at the moment and this issue of unregulated accommodation should be really worrying them because it goes against their priority of care providing the same foundations as a stable and loving family home. Most people rely on their mum and dad in one-way shape or form until they die. This decision will mean that care experienced people as young as 16 won’t have that luxury.
If you'd like to join Jakeb and share your views on unregulated accommodation we'd love to hear from you. You can email Ali our Communications and Campaigns Manager and she'll arrange a time to chat: email@example.com