Responding to the government's announcement today (19 Feb 2021) and response to the consultation on unregulated provision for children in care, Become's Interim Chief Executive, Victoria Langer, said:
"Whilst it’s vital that urgent action is taken to address poor quality settings, these proposals are not in young people’s best interests and the Government has failed to listen to young care-experienced people who have spoken out about the lack of security, stability and support they have experienced living in unregulated accommodation. There are more than 6000 children living in unregulated settings who will continue to be denied the care they deserve under the government’s plans.
"Creating a set of separate national standards will further formalise a ‘two-tier’ care system for those aged 16 and 17, guaranteeing ‘care’ to those in foster care or children’s homes but not to their peers in semi-independent and independent settings. The Government claims that the use of this sort of accommodation for 16- and 17-year-olds is a helpful step towards independence, but the evidence suggests this isn’t how it’s being used for many people including those seeking asylum and those who have only recently come into care, who typically need more, not less support. At Become we believe that all children deserve care until they are 18, in places which can adapt to suit their changing needs as they move towards early adulthood.
"Nonetheless, we very much welcome the commitment of additional investment in local authorities to create more spaces in children’s homes. In our response to the consultation, we called for a concerted effort to tackle this root cause of the system’s over-reliance on unregulated settings at pace and scale– especially as the care system looks after more children, in particular older teenagers – by building capacity in more suitable placements like children’s homes and foster care. It’s essential the recently announced review of children’s social care proposes sustainable long-term solutions to address this issue now and build capacity in the system for the years ahead."