New legislation has banned the use of unregulated placements which do not provide care for those under sixteen. This article explores how campaigners are reacting to the change.
Unregulated placements that do not provide care for children aged under 16 are now banned. The new legislation was put into place after a department of education consultation.
New national standards have also been put in place for unregulated housing being used for young people between the ages of 16 and 17. The movement has led to amendments of the Children Act 1989 statutory guidance regarding care planning as well as placements.
The move has shocked campaigners due to the disparity between the number of children under 16 placed in unregulated supported accommodation compared to those who are 16 and 17. Between 2018 and 2019, ten times as many 16 and 17-year-olds were placed in unregulated supported accommodation.
Why Did The Change Occur?
The change in legislation occurred after concerns were raised regarding the safety of the placements in question.
Campaigners argue the new change will mean that the rights of children aged 16 and 17 to receive care will be removed. Instead, it will mean that more children in this age bracket end up in unregulated support accommodation.
Businesses, academics, and even charity leaders have come out against the ban and there are nearly 400 signatures on an online petition requesting that the government reverses this decision.
Together Trust suggested that 6000 children already reside in places where they don’t receive any form of care. After this change in legislation, it is likely that this number will increase dramatically.
Charities such as Become have also argued that since this is separating under sixteens from children over this age, it will create a two tier system. Ultimately, they are worried it will mean that older children are not cared for and are not provided with anywhere near the same support as those under sixteen.
Many have also argued that this is completely contradictory to how the government views care from parents. Parents are legally obligated to support their children until they are sixteen and encouraged to continue to care for them until they are eighteen. This system suggests that any child over the age of sixteen is old enough to live by themselves and will no longer need any form of care.
Others have suggested that this is going to unfairly discriminate against children in ethnic communities as well as minorities.
The Impact Of Non-Care Placements
According to Together Trust, non-care placements can be catastrophic for older children. Research suggests it leads to worse outcomes for education. One study found that 3,253 children in non-care settings across 67 councils were not receiving any form of education, training, or employment
There is however hope on the horizon. The High Court has already granted a request for a judicial review of the change. The hearing is due to occur in December.
Campaigners are desperately hoping that the decision will be reversed at this time after the change has been labeled the worst day for childcare in decades.