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Care Leavers: Social Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL15271, tabled on 26 April 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the forthcoming consultation on national standards for unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers, as announced in the Government’s consultation response Reforms to unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers, published on 19 February, will include a question on whether these standards should apply to care leavers aged 18 and over as well as those aged 16–17.

Answered on

29 April 2021

The upcoming consultation focusses on national standards and Ofsted regulation for independent and semi-independent provision that accommodates looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17. These proposals do not apply to care leavers aged over 18.

Local authorities are responsible for accommodating care leavers aged 16 or 17. Where local authorities accommodate care leavers in unregulated settings, the new national standards that we are consulting on will apply. When care leavers reach age 18 and become adults, local authorities do not have a duty to accommodate them. However, local authorities do have continuing duties to help care leavers to make a successful transition from care to independence. These duties include providing care leavers with a Personal Adviser, whose role includes helping them to secure suitable accommodation.

Care leavers aged 18 to 25 live in a range of settings, with varying levels of support depending on their needs. Where a young person is in foster care immediately before their 18th birthday, local authorities have a duty to support them to Stay Put with their former foster carer to age 21 – around half of eligible young people choose to Stay Put. This includes providing financial support to meet all reasonable costs of supporting the young person. The department has announced funding of over £33 million in the financial year 2021/22 to support implementation, an increase of approximately £10 million on the financial year 2019/20.

We are also piloting Staying Close, which provides an enhanced support package for young people leaving residential care. We are committed to the national roll-out of Staying Close in the future. The department also provides funding to local authorities to support care leavers at risk of rough sleeping. Care leavers who become homeless have a priority need in homelessness legislation to age 21.

Many care leavers aged over 18 live independently, either in social housing or the private rented sector. Some care leavers aged over 18 live in supported accommodation. The government has published a national statement of expectations for all providers of supported accommodation that sets out what constitutes good quality provision. A copy of this statement is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supported-housing-national-statement-of-expectations/supported-housing-national-statement-of-expectations.