The government has published its response to its consultation on new standards in supported housing for looked after children and care leavers aged 16-17. An analysis of all responses has been published alongside the response itself. You can read the NHF's response on behalf of our members to the government consultation here.
The Department for Education (DfE) has also published its guidance on the supported accomodation regulations including quality standards. Further Ofsted guidance is expected in April.
Although high numbers of respondents agreed or partly agreed with the proposals in the consultation, the response highlights common concerns from the submissions received, which centre around:
- Need for greater clarity on requirements/training.
- Concern around cost and admin burden leading to reduced supply.
- Need for homely/personalised accommodation to move away from “care” setting.
- Agreement with transition period.
The government has decided that it will proceed with the Quality Standards and guidance mostly as consulted on, with some limited changes:
- Removing references to specific staff qualifications and focusing on experience, with strengthened guidance on what is expected in terms of qualifications.
- Removing the requirement for staff to be trained in the use of restraint and making it clear that restraint should be very rare and used only in exceptional circumstances.
- Removing the requirement for bedroom doors to be lockable in supported lodgings (family settings). Lockable doors will still be required in supported accommodation.
- Make it clearer that government do not expect to see widespread use of non-permanent or mobile settings.
- Change the guidance on supported lodgings to demonstrate the differences.
- Include the recommendation that young people should be able to personalise their own space.
- Clarify that providers should work with young people so they are aware of their own responsibilities in managing their health needs.
- Help providers know what the minimum requirements are around wifi connectivity.
- Provide further detail on missing and safeguarding policies.
- Adding a specific mention of immigration matters in relation to the young person’s records.
- Clarify what is meant by a “serious incident”.
The government will make limited changes to the guidance concerning the administrative requirements on providers:
- Clarifying recommendations/expectations on training/qualifications for staff.
- Further guidance for prospective providers on who should register in respect of different scenarios.
- Further clarity on who should have access to records, including the rights of young people to access their own records.
- Greater clarity on ensuring that young people are aware of complaints procedures.
- More detailed guidance on what constitutes a serious incident.
The government will be proceeding with the plans set out for Ofsted registration, inspection and enforcement.
- Ofsted will publish guidance in early April 2023.
- Government will lay the regulations in early April 2023.
- The government will begin distributing local authority funding via grant payments from April 2023.
- Ofsted will begin to register providers from 28 April 2023.
- Ofsted will publish their registration guidance ahead of the registration window opening on 28 April 2023. This will cover what information they expect to see at registration, as well as guidance on how to accurately categorise provision
- From 28 October 2023, local authorities will not be permitted to place or arrange accommodation for looked after children and care leavers in supported accommodation that is not registered with Ofsted or has not submitted a complete application by 28 October 2023 (There will be a transition period whereby if providers submit a full registration application to Ofsted in advance of 28 October 2023, they can continue to legally operate beyond October until their application has been determined by Ofsted). Providers operating without registration or without having submitted a complete application by 28 October 2023 will be committing an offence, for which Ofsted will be able to prosecute.
- Ofsted will be piloting inspections later this year to develop their approach and guidance ahead of inspections beginning from April 2024.
- Ofsted will begin to inspect registered providers from April 2024.
Support for providers
The government says it recognises that this reform programme represents major change to local authorities and supported accommodation providers and has “listened to the concerns raised by local authorities and providers regarding the perceived increases in costs associated with these reforms.”
The government has therefore contracted the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) to support the sector to prepare for the changes up to April 2024. The NCB will work closely with commissioners and the provider market to raise awareness of the reforms, develop practical tools to support providers to implement and support them to prepare for registration and inspection. The NCB has set up a website and a series of events for providers.