View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

5.1.15 Placements in Unregulated Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Unregulated accommodation can be seen as a flexible way of meeting the needs of young people and care leavers. This chapter seeks to reflect the requirements for placing children in unregulated placements together with the local authority’s duties and responsibilities. It is essential that any such placement is identified as meeting the needs of the young person being placed.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations - Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review (DfE, 2015)

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations - Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers (DfE, 2015)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Leaving Care Service

This chapter was added to the manual in October 2019.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Considering Unregulated Placements
  3. Matters to be taken in to Consideration
  4. Reviewing and Visiting Children


1. Introduction

Unregulated placements are those placements that ‘will not be regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 and as a result will not be inspected by Ofsted.’

These placements are provided under sections of the Children Act 1989:

  • Section 22C(6)(D) describes a placement ‘in accordance with other arrangements’;
  • Section 23B(8) identifies that local authorities may provide, or maintain in accommodation, a relevant child in suitable accommodation, etc.
  • Section 23B(10) considers that the Secretary of State may by regulation may make provision about the meaning of ‘suitable accommodation’ - ‘in particular about the suitability of landlords or other providers of accommodation’; and
  • Section 24B(6) enables the local authority to provide suitable accommodation during vacation periods where the relevant child is in full time further or higher education.

A local authority can find meeting the needs of young people challenging because of the diversity of needs and because ‘transition’ inevitably means that young peoples’ needs will also change as they become more able to cope and function on an independent basis.

Unregulated accommodation can be a flexible way of meeting the needs of young people and care leavers at this stage of their lives.

Such placements include supportive lodgings, foyer-type placements, placements in independent accommodation that provide out-reach style support and other resources and services that have been commissioned by the local authority that provide a range of resources to meet care leavers needs.

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations - Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review (DfE, 2015) and The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations - Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers (DfE, 2015) together with the Care leavers (England) Regulations 2010 provide the basis of a framework for working with and providing unregulated accommodation.


2. Considering Unregulated Placements

In respect of unregulated placements, it will be essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child’s needs are identified in an assessment; that these are reflected in the Pathway Plan, and that the services provided by the placement meet these needs.

It is important to evaluate the level of support a child requires to ensure that their assessed needs identify a ‘supportive’ as against a ‘caring’ role for them (see Yvette Stanley ‘Unregistered and unregulated provision - what is the difference? Ofsted Blog, GOV.UK July 2019).

Where a local authority is making a placement with ‘other arrangements’ [1] a statutory review must be carried out which recommends that such a placement is in the child’s best interests and welfare. However, the local authority can make such a placement where it is deemed necessary to do so, or where it is a matter of urgency.

Regulation 12(3)(c) requires that, where a young person is placed in ‘other arrangements’, then the local authority must make a placement plan involving the young person and the person responsible for supporting them in the accommodation. This should be the person who will have the most day to day contact with the young person, for example their ‘key worker’ or supported lodgings host / carer. Any support plan setting out how the supported accommodation service will support the young person should be integral to the placement plan and avoid duplication (see Section 4.1, Pathway Plan - Reviews for Relevant and Former Relevant Children),

Unless it is identified as not being in a child’s best interests, placements should be placed near the child’s home; enable the child to maintain contacts with siblings; not disrupt their education or training and be within the local authority. (See Section 22C Children Act 1989).

Nevertheless, where children have been placed out of area, e.g. to meet complex needs (see Out of Area Placements Procedure), they may choose to remain in that local authority area and the local authority must seek to ensure that a service is provided that is commensurate with the service which they would receive if they had remained resident in the area.


3. Matters to be Taken into Consideration

Schedule 6 (Children Act 1989); the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (DfE, 2015) and Leaving Care and Transition (2015) identify what should be considered when making a placement in unregulated accommodation:

3.1 Accommodation

Facilities and services provided

This is particularly relevant where the child is not placed with a host family but is placed in an independent situation or shared occupancy:

  • The space available:
    • Where the property is shared, the young person must have their own lockable room for privacy;
    • Where the young person is in education or training, that the property offers study space.
  • The bathing and toilet facilities are adequate and reflect the number of occupants;
  • Whether the state / repair of the furnishings is adequate (where the property is already furnished) prior to the young person moving in;
  • The adequacy of the heating and hot water.

The state of repair

The property must be habitable, i.e. structurally sound, free from damp and in adequate state of repair. The appliances must be useable and fit for purpose. The young person must be advised of who is responsible for repairs and maintenance to the property and its fixtures and fittings and emergency contact details.

Safety

The responsible authority will need to check, as far as reasonably practicable, that:

  • The landlord possesses a current up to date gas safety certificate, that fire detection equipment works and that if there was a fire, the property could be evacuated safely;
  • The electrical wiring has been checked within the last five years, and any electrical appliances in the property must be safe; and
  • The accommodation is secure (e.g. is there a burglar alarm; locks on windows; mortice locks). Also, whether the previous tenant has returned all their keys or that the locks have been changed.

The landlord should have all the necessary buildings and liability insurance cover for the accommodation.

Location

  • There should be adequate transport links between the property and the young person’s place of education, training or employment and the accommodation should be reasonably accessible to people in the young person’s personal support network, health and leisure services and other amenities;
  • The area where the property is located should be thought to be generally safe at night;
  • Where the assessment of the property’s suitability for the individual young person suggests that there are concerns about the safety of the area where the property is situated, it will be even more important to ensure that the accommodation is secure.

Support

The responsible authority should establish how the accommodation provider has been selected, assessed and trained and how they are supervised.

The responsible authority will need to take steps to be satisfied that the assessment and selection process has involved proper independent scrutiny, involving safeguarding checks and checks on the provider’s financial viability, to establish that the provider has the necessary skills and competences to respond to the needs of a young person in order to achieve the goals agreed as part of their care plan.

It is important that the suitability of accommodation providers is kept under regular review.

Note: Where the young person is placed in accommodation that comes with housing related support, or where the young person is placed in supportive lodgings, then the support provided must contribute to meeting their assessed needs;

Tenancy status

Where a young person is in accommodation and they are a tenant, the responsible authority should seek to ensure that the young person understands their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement and where necessary enable them to access independent advise or advocacy;

The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability

A tenancy for a young person must be affordable and there should be clarity about the services that are covered and need to be covered in addition.

The young person must be clear about their contribution towards the rent and domestic utilities, etc.

When necessary, considering the tenancy should include the long-term viability of it once the person reaches 18, or if their financial situation changes. Housing Benefit allowances should be clarified before the young person is encouraged to accept the changes.

Consideration must also be given to other costs associated with the property, e.g. transport costs to college to work.

The Child

The child’s views of the accommodation

The responsible authority must establish the young person’s views about the suitability of any accommodation:

  • Young people should be familiar with how their needs have been assessed and how this assessment has informed the provision of services and support set out in their care and pathway plan.

The child’s understanding of their rights and responsibilities in respect of the accommodation

  • Discussions between the young person and their social worker about this extremely important issue must make sure that the young person appreciates the implications of their tenancy and recognises what is expected of them.

Their understanding regarding the funding arrangements

  • They must be offered sufficient information, support and advice so that they understand any financial commitments and expectations that fall to them;
  • The responsible authority must make sure that the young person knows what they should do if their financial circumstances change or if there is an increase in the costs of the accommodation.

This essential information must be detailed in the young person’s pathway plan.

3.2 Facilities and Services Provided

In line with ensuring the unregulated service meets the child’s needs before making the placement, the responsible local authority must ensure:

  • The accommodation is suitable for the child to meet their needs, including their health needs;
  • That it has satisfied itself as to then character and suitability of the landlord or provider;
  • Where local authorities use unregulated supported accommodation for young people aged 16 and 17, they should ensure that all providers are vetted and approved to the standards they require through these or other routes;
  • With regard to rented accommodation, the local authority has satisfied itself the accommodation meets health and safety requirements and has taken into account the child’s wishes as well as their education, training and employment needs.

It is essential that a local authority reflects the ‘corporate parenting principles’ and provides or commissions a range of resources (including support services) that both considers and details the requirements to meet young peoples’ needs.

(See also Section 4, Reviewing and Visiting Children.)


4. Reviewing and Visiting Children

4.1 Pathway Plan - Reviews for Relevant and Former Relevant Children

‘Apart from ensuring that the pathway plan continues to respond to all the dimensions of the young person’s needs, one of the essential functions of this (first) review will be to establish that they have settled into their accommodation and that this is, in practice, suitable in the light of their needs’ [2]. The Pathway Plan review should establish the service being provided is as commissioned, as well as explore the young person’s progress and consider whether the arrangements should be adjusted.

Any review should always be mindful as to whether there are any safeguarding concerns, such as:

The Local Authority must:

  1. Arrange a review 28 days (or as soon as practicable thereafter) from the time the accommodation is provided; and
  2. Determine at what intervals (not exceeding 3 months) subsequent reviews will be carried out;
  3. Reviews should be brought forward where there is an assessed risk that a crisis may develop in a young person's life, for example:
    • Where a young person has been charged with an offence and there is a possibility of their being sentenced to custody, which will risk losing their accommodation;
    • Where a young person is at risk of being evicted from their accommodation or otherwise threatened with homelessness;
    • Where professionals are concerned about the parenting capacity of a 'Relevant' or 'Former Relevant' young person with there being a possibility that their own child may need to be the subject of a multi-agency safeguarding plan;
    • Where a young person requests a review.

Schedule 3 sets out all the matters which must be included in a placement plan. Where children are placed in ‘other arrangements’, it will be essential that the provider appreciates the arrangements that the local authority proposes to put in place to make sure that the child is adequately supported. The placement plan must be explicit about the respective roles and responsibilities of the placement provider and the child’s social worker, their IRO and of other staff employed or commissioned by the authority to contribute to the plan for the child’s care.

The plan must include:

  • The respective safeguarding responsibilities of the provider and local authority;
  • The frequency of visits the child can expect from their responsible authority;
  • Communication arrangements between the provider and the local authority;
  • The provider’s responsibilities for notifying the child’s social worker and accountable staff of the authority of any significant change in the child’s circumstances; and
  • Arrangements for giving notice of intention to terminate the placement (along with the authority’s responsibilities for convening a review of the child’s care and pathway plan where there is a risk of the placement being terminated).

The review should ensure that although the placement may meet the young person’s needs, its contribution continues to be of ‘support’ rather than ‘care’¬†(see Yvette Stanley ‘Unregistered and unregulated provision - what is the difference? Ofsted Blog, GOV.UK July 2019).

4.2 Visiting Requirements for Relevant Children

When a care leaver moves to new accommodation, and the accommodation is unregulated / comes under Section 23B and 24B of the Children Act 1989, the Personal Adviser must see them at that accommodation:

Social workers / representatives of the local authority visiting young people in this context should be mindful of Schedule 6 and identify that the services within the Pathway Plan are being provided and that the placement / accommodation continues to meet the young person’s needs.

Visits should also ensure that although the placement may meet the young person’s needs, its contribution continues to be of ‘support’ rather than ‘care’ (see Yvette Stanley ‘Unregistered and unregulated provision - what is the difference? Ofsted Blog, GOV.UK July 2019).

Safeguarding issues should remain at the forefront issues during visits, particularly with regard to child sexual and criminal exploitation, including any concerns around ‘county lines’; any involvement in a gang / youth violence; extremism and bullying.

[2] Volume 3: planning transition and adulthood for care leavers, (DfE, 2015).

End