The transition from childhood to independence is traumatic enough for any young person, with even the most stable of backgrounds, but this can be compounded by leaving the care system whether the young person has positive, negative or a huge combination of both to contend with.
Young people have the option to consider staying put arrangements but they are not always practical or desirable so where are the alternatives?
Statutory guidance does not stipulate any particular type of accommodation, but every care leaver is entitled to be appropriately accommodated and supported.
These options should have been discussed in detail in the young person’s pathway plan by their local authority and high on the agenda would be the financial support available and accommodation. These options are not universal and depend on the individual policy of the local authority and the resources available to the local authority. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 imposes duties on local authorities
Statutory guidance to the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 states it would be inappropriate for 16 and 17 year old care leavers to live completely independently and within this bed and breakfast accommodation should only be used in the short-term and only very occasionally.
The Planning Transitions to Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance that was published week commencing 26th January 2015 specified that B&B’s should only be used ion exceptional circumstances and for a limited time period and that overall they were not to be considered as “suitable accommodation”. Despite this not being a new revelation local authorities have historically used this form of accommodation for care leavers when other housing was not available. The Education Select Committee had been made aware of councils placing care leavers in B&B’s for extended periods of time running into months. Government took the committee’s recommendation of a complete ban into consideration when stipulating the use of B&B’s to be a last resort and to be limited to just two days.
Natasha Finlayson, chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust, said that while she still supported a complete ban on B&Bs, the new guidance will help to identify bad practice.
“We’re pleased that the wording in the new guidance sets a clear maximum amount of time that young people should spend in B&Bs as this will enable local authorities to be held to account more easily if they place young people in B&Bs for longer than two working days,” she said.
She added that the new guidance will only be effective if enforced by the Department for Education. “We are encouraged by the fact that the DfE has said it will continue to review practice and will be collecting more data from local authorities about their use of B&Bs so that they can ‘challenge local authorities where necessary’.
Learn more at The Who Cares? Trust