Rules banning children from entering unregulated accommodation will come into force later this year, it has been announced.
The new legislation forms part of social care reforms designed to “drive up standards” in the children’s social care sector.
According to the Department for Education (DfE), children under the age of 16 will no longer be placed in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements from September 2021.
The Government said the new rules will ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society are cared for in settings “that best meet their needs”.
Under the plans, Ofsted will also be granted new powers to take enforcement action against illegal unregistered providers who are operating without the correct registration in place.
Meanwhile, new national standards for unregulated settings that are accommodating 16 and 17-year-old children in care and care leavers will also come into force from September.
Commenting on the plans, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Vulnerable children under 16 are too young for the type of accommodation that provides a place to stay but not the care and support that they need. The action taken today – supported by the sector and in response to their views – is an important step in making sure children in care are placed in settings that give them the highest chances of success.”
Last year, a survey found that three in four social care stakeholders agreed that the practice of using independent and semi-independent provision for children under the age of 16 “should be banned”.
However, independent and semi-independent provision can be the “right option” for some older children where it is “high quality and meets their needs”.