Into independence, not out of care: 16 plus care options - Education Committee Contents


Two issues motivated our inquiry into 16 plus care options: that 'other arrangements' are unsuitable and that the current Staying Put policy is inequitable. Evidence to our inquiry, as well as our informal discussions with young people, confirmed that these concerns are certainly justified and, if anything, underestimate the gravity of the situation.

The suitability and safety of 'other arrangements' must improve. Tireless efforts are made to ensure high standards in settings for children and young people: childminders, foster carers, residential children's homes and schools are all inspected, yet accommodation that falls within the category of 'other arrangements' is not. We recommend that the DfE consult on a framework of individual regulatory oversight for all accommodation provision that falls within the category 'other arrangements'.

Despite the DfE's assertion that "Bed and breakfast accommodation is not considered to be suitable", it continues to be used. An outright ban on B&Bs is required and we recommend that the DfE consult urgently with local authorities on a reasonable timeframe in which to introduce this, alongside a strengthened requirement for local authorities to commission sufficient alternative emergency facilities.

The current Staying Put policy applies only to looked after young people living in foster care. Young people living in residential children's homes are often the most vulnerable and should have the right to remain there beyond the age of 18. We recommend that the DfE extends Staying Put to these settings.

Legislation entitles care leavers to continuing accommodation support in 'other arrangements' up to the age of 21. However, the provisions are unclear, insufficient and all too often overlooked. We recommend that the DfE issue explicit guidance on young people's right to stay in 'other arrangements' until they are 21.

A model of Staying Close presents the opportunity for young people to gain the independent living arrangements that they often crave at the age of 16 or 17, whilst retaining the physical proximity, professional support and valued connections with staff and friends in former residential children's home that they may be anxious to leave behind. We recommend that the DfE examine such existing models and, if they are shown to lead to improved outcomes for young people, issue best practice guidance on a model of Staying Close.

In addition to these fundamental recommendations, our report sets out the necessary steps to ensure that there are improvements in the planning and preparation of, and stability and support for, young people as they move to greater independence

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2014
Prepared 17 July 2014