The Department for Education has today (24 May) launched an eight week consultation on standards for unregulated accommodation for children in care aged 16 and 17. The standards deliberately omit any requirement to provide care to children.
The draft care-less standards follow yesterday’s shocking revelations in the Mail on Sunday that there were nearly 1,300 allegations of abuse against children in unregulated accommodation over the past two years. Almost 1 in 5 of the reports concerned sexual abuse and exploitation.
Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, said:
“The proposed care-less standards are woefully inadequate compared to the existing quality standards for children’s homes. They miss out any requirement to provide care to children in care, even though we know that 4 in 10 teenagers who enter care are put straight into unregulated accommodation. Children are not coming into care simply for a roof over their head; they need care and nurturing to help them recover from past abuse, neglect and trauma as well as to help them do well in their studies and prepare for a good future life.
“Ministers have deliberately omitted care so that providers of unregulated accommodation don’t have to follow the children’s homes quality standards. We recommended having a single set of quality standards, with possible modifications for homes which wholly or mainly care for older children. The government chose to sacrifice care and to introduce legislation which only guarantees care to children aged 15 and younger. This is discriminatory and puts children at risk, which is why we have applied to the High Court for a judicial review.
“This is running a care system for very vulnerable children on the cheap. The majority of unregulated accommodation is run for profit, and you can see why companies if given a choice of having to meet nine quality standards and provide care to children, or follow these four standards, would choose the latter. We are a wealthy country that has the means to care for and protect children; this is such a sad development.”
The vast majority of children who live in unregulated accommodation (around 6,000 at any one time) are aged 16 and 17.
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