ECPAT UK is supporting the Keep Caring for Children up to 18 campaign to ensure that every looked after child receives care until at least their 18th birthday.

In February 2020, the government launched a public consultation on its proposals to introduce new standards for supported accommodation. This kind accommodation is typically meant for 16 and 17 year-olds, and is designed to provide a 'stepping stone' to a more independent way of living.

Supported accommodation is currently unregulated, which means it is not registered with or inspected by Ofsted. It is illegal for these settings to provide 'care'. They would have to be registered as a children's home and adhere to the relevant regulations for this to be legal.

We've previously raised a number of concerns about the increasing number of children living in such unregulated semi-independent and independent settings, and the lack of sufficient oversight to ensure all of these places where children might live are safe and suitable. 

The government is proposing a separate set of new standards that will continue to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to live in supported accommodation, which is unable to provide care.

We believe that every child in care deserves care. 

Legally, every 16 and 17 year-old is still a child, even if we may more commonly refer to them as young people.

The state's responsibility to them as a corporate parent should include guaranteeing care until they are 18.

We do not believe that establishing a two-tier care system is in the best interests of children and young people. There is no similar expectation for those living in foster care or children's homes that they will receive a lower standard of support when they turn 16. 

This is why we support #KeepCaringTo18.

For further information on the campaign, please visit Article 39's webpage

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