Young people in care are given the opportunity to live in semi-independent accommodation as part of the transitional phase towards adulthood and independence. Until recently this has meant, however, that 16 to 17 year olds have ended up in what’s known as “unregulated accommodation”. This includes anything from hostels to caravans, but is defined by the fact that it’s not registered or inspected by organisations such as Ofsted. The government has now proposed that four national standards need to be applied to any accommodation provided to 16 to 17 year olds by law. According to the government consultation, the four standards accommodation will be expected to meet include: leadership and management, protection, accommodation, and support.
Leadership and management
The main aspect of the leadership and management standard is that each accommodation must have an allocated individual to report to Ofsted and manage all elements of the service. This is also the case with children’s care homes. The allocated person will liaise with Ofsted to ensure the accommodation meets the required standards and to monitor the wellbeing of the residents. They are also responsible for reporting any major incidents to local authorities including criminal or sexual exploitation, or death.
Young people will be given extended support and protection by trained and experienced individuals. Accommodation staff need to be trained in identifying and dealing with common issues such as abuse, neglect, exploitation, or anything relating to the environment or behaviour of others that could put the residents at risk. Other safeguarding measures will be put in place such as guidance and support for all residents. The idea is to minimise risk and to educate children in taking the necessary precautions to protect their own safety.
The accommodation standard is in place to ensure that all elements of the property are suitable for providing the child with a safe and comfortable environment. These elements include a seperate, lockable room, and all the necessary equipment and amenities according to their lifestyle. Each young person’s individual needs will be taken into account and the property will be inspected to ensure these are met.
Young people will be given increased support but also encouraged to take more responsibility over their own support plan. Support workers will consult with the residents directly and individually to ensure they get the help they need to make the transition to more independent living. With this more formal support system in place, young people will be given assistance and guidance while being permitted to have more involvement in the type of help they receive.
With these standards in place, accommodation for 16 to 17 year olds will need to provide a healthier environment. Close to 6,500 children are currently living in unregulated accommodation and the government proposal aims to change this. The new standards will hopefully allow more young people to benefit from a secure, semi-independent situation.
If you would like further information about accommodation for young people, along with other tips and advice, learn more today.