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4.6.7 Placements in Other Arrangements

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023

Department for Education Guidance on Providing Supported Accommodation for Children and Young People - guide to the Regulations on providing supported accommodation for children and young people. It includes the Quality Standards that all supported accommodation providers must meet.

Guidance: Introduction to Supported Accommodation - what providers need to know about registering with Ofsted and running or closing a supported accommodation service.

See also: Placements in Secure Accommodation on Welfare Grounds, Use of Inherent Jurisdiction to Authorise a Placement Involving a Deprivation of Liberty, which provides information on requirements under: Guidance - Placing Children: Deprivation of Liberty Orders - guidance for providers, social workers and placement commissioners on placing children, subject to a deprivation of liberty order (DoL), in unregistered settings.

President of the Family Division Practice Guidance: Placements in Unregistered Children’s Homes in England or Unregistered Care Home Services in Wales

A local authority placing a child should check whether the placement is registered with Ofsted in England or CIW in Wales.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was refreshed in November 2023.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Children Under 16
  3. Children Aged 16 and 17


1. Introduction

Children Act 1989 Section 22C(6)(d) provides that a local authority looking after a child may place the child in 'other arrangements'. Section 23B(8)(b) provides that a local authority may provide 'suitable accommodation' for 16- and 17-year-old care leavers.

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, banned the placement of Looked After children under the age of 16 in supported accommodation (previously known as semi-independent or independent settings) provided in accordance with other arrangements.

From April 2023, such settings for 16 and 17 year olds are required to be registered with Ofsted in accordance with the Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023. Supported accommodation can be used to provide accommodation with support for 16- and 17-year-old Looked After children and care leavers, to enable them to live semi-independently.


2. Children Under 16

2.1 Types of Accommodation

Regulation 27A Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (added by Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021) provides that a responsible authority may only place a child under 16 in accommodation in 'other arrangements' under section 22C(6)(d), where the accommodation is:

  • A care home as defined in section 105(1) Children Act 1989;
  • A hospital as defined in section 275(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006;
  • A residential family centre as defined in section 4(2) of the Care Standards Act;
  • A school within the meaning of section 4 of the Education Act 1996 providing accommodation that is not registered as a children's home as defined in section 105(1) Children Act 1989;
  • An establishment that provides care and accommodation for children as a holiday scheme for disabled children as defined in regulation 2(1) of the Residential Holiday Schemes for Disabled Children (England) Regulations 2013.

Regulation 27B provides an exception to this prohibition in the case of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children whose age is uncertain and who claim to be aged 16 or 17. Such children may be placed in 'other arrangements' placements other than those listed above pending an age determination. Where the child is later assessed as being under 16, the responsible authority may not leave the child in such accommodation for longer than 10 working days beginning with the date on which the child's age has been assessed as being under 16, and the child would need to be placed in one of the specified types of accommodation set out above. For further information, see: Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Child Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery Procedure.

Children aged under 16 may only be placed in regulated settings as set out above.

2.2 Matters to be Considered by the Responsible Authority Before Placing the Child

It is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child's needs are matched to the services provided by the placement.

Regulation 27 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023) provides that before placing the child, the responsible authority must:

  1. Be satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the child, and must have regard to the child's views about the accommodation;
  2. Unless it is not reasonably practicable, arrange for the child to visit the accommodation; and
  3. Inform the IRO.


3. Children Aged 16 and 17

3.1 Types of Accommodation

Regulation 27C Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations (2010) (as inserted by Regulation 36 Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023) provides that a responsible authority may only place a child who is 16 or 17 years old in other arrangements where the accommodation is:

  1. Supported accommodation as defined in Regulation 2 of the Care Standards Act 2000 (Extension of the Application of Part 2 to Supported Accommodation) (England) Regulations 2022, which is registered with Ofsted or where registration is pending; or
  2. Is excepted accommodation.

    Excepted accommodation
     is accommodation:
  1. In a care home as defined in section 3 of the Care Standards Act 2000;
  2. In an institution within the further education sector as defined in section 91(3) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992;
  3. In a 16 to 19 Academy as defined in section 1B of the Academies Act 2010;
  4. In a hospital as defined in section 275(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006;
  5. In a residential family centre as defined in section 4(2) of the Care Standards Act 2000;
  6. In a school within the meaning of section 4 of the Education Act 1996 providing accommodation that is not registered as a children's home;
  7. In an establishment that provides care and accommodation for children as a residential holiday scheme for disabled children as defined in regulation 2(1) of the Residential Holiday Schemes for Disabled Children (England) Regulations 2013.

3.2 Matters to be Considered by the Responsible Authority Before Placing the Child

Regulation 27 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023) provides that before placing the child in excepted accommodation as set out above, the responsible authority must:

  • Be satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the child, and must have regard to the child's views about the accommodation;
  • Unless it is not reasonably practicable, arrange for the child to visit the accommodation; and
  • Inform the IRO.

Before placing the child in registered supported accommodation, the responsible authority must:

  • Be satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the child, and must have regard to the matters set out in Schedule 6;
  • Unless it is not reasonably practicable, arrange for the child to visit the accommodation; and
  • Inform the IRO.

3.3 Supported Accommodation Settings

Department for Education Guidance on Providing Supported Accommodation for Children and Young People includes the Quality Standards that all supported accommodation providers must meet.

The Guidance provides that while most children in the care system will be best placed in foster care or a children's home, from the age of 16, a Looked After child can leave care (becoming a 'care leaver') and/or move to supported accommodation if they are ready for it. This provision can be appropriate for some older children where it is what they want, it can meet their needs and keep them safe as part of a carefully managed transition to independence. The aim of supported accommodation is to support young people to develop their independence in preparation for adult living while keeping them safe in a homely and nurturing environment. The needs of each individual young person and therefore the support they require while living in supported accommodation will differ. It is important that providers consider the individual needs of the young people they accommodate and ensure that the package of support that is put in place for them is consistent with meeting their individual needs.

The Guidance outlines the four categories of supported accommodation and a broad description of what they provide:

Category (regulation 2) Description
1. Supported accommodation in a self-contained unit, where the accommodation is for the sole use of the child or for the child and other individuals living with the child as agreed by the accommodating authority or the supported accommodation undertaking. (Regulation 2(1), para (a))
  • The accommodation is designed for the sole use of the young person placed there, or for the young person and others that may live there as part of their family unit, for example, their partner, sibling and children;
  • Includes bedsits under a licence agreement and self-contained flats, which may be at the same location, or within the same building.
2. Supported accommodation in a shared or group living situation in premises used to accommodate only looked after children and care leavers. (Regulation 2(1), para (b))
  • Shared accommodation;
  • Young people have their own bedroom, and may have their own bathroom, and share communal areas (e.g. Living room/s, kitchen);
  • Provision may include foyer-type accommodation that combines support with opportunities for education, training and employment;
  • This provision may accommodate care leavers aged 18+.
3. Supported accommodation in a shared or group living situation in premises which are not limited to accommodating looked after children and care leavers. (Regulation 1(2), para (c))

See description for 2 above, plus:

  • In addition to being registered to support looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17, this provision may also provide accommodation for people who are not looked after children or care leavers such as young adults with care and support needs.
4. Supported accommodation provided by an individual or individuals in a private residence which is the main residence of that individual or those individuals. (Regulation 2(1), para (d))
  • Provided by private individuals who offer a room in their family home;
  • Provision is typically co-ordinated by a supported lodgings scheme (the registered provider), which recruits and supports a network of supported lodgings 'hosts'.

Schedule 6 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 sets out factors that must be considered by the responsible authority in determining whether registered supported accommodation provided as an 'other arrangements placement' is suitable for individual looked after children/care leavers aged 16 or over. The factors set out below do not need to be considered for 'other arrangements' placements in any of the exempted regulated settings.

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review provides greater detail.

3.3.1 Suitability of Accommodation

In every case, before making an 'other arrangements' placement in these settings the responsible authority must establish that the accommodation is suitable. A location assessment should be completed by the provider at least once a year to ensure the premises are accessible, safe, secure and well maintained.

Suitable accommodation is accommodation:

  • Which is suitable for a child aged 16 and over in light of their needs, including their health needs;
  • In respect of which the responsible authority has satisfied itself as to the character and suitability of the provider;
  • Which complies with health and safety requirements related to the accommodation; and
  • In respect of which the responsible authority has, so far as reasonably practicable, taken into account the child's:
    • Wishes and feelings; and
    • Education, training or employment needs.

Facilities and Services provided

Consideration of facilities and services will be particularly relevant where the young person is not placed in a domestic setting (i.e. with a host family as part of a supported lodgings arrangement or where they choose to live with family or friends) but is placed in accommodation where they are independent or sharing the occupancy. The responsible authority will need to take the following issues into account:

  • The space available in the property:
    • Where the property is shared with others the young person must have their own lockable room allowing them privacy;
    • Where the young person is in education or training the property should offer study space, in their own room or elsewhere.
  • The bathing and toilet facilities, which must be sufficient for the number of occupants in the property;
  • Whether the state of repair of the furniture is adequate where the property is already furnished prior to the young person moving in; and
  • All other facilities should be provided such as heating, hot water, connectivity to the internet and household appliances should be fit for purpose.  

State of Repair and Safety

The property must be comfortable and secure.

The young person should be fully informed about who is responsible for repairs and maintenance to the property, fittings and fixtures and of what to do and who to contact in an emergency, for example, a water leak or if the heating breaks down if the setting is not supported 24 hours a day.

The responsible authority will need to check that:

  • Any agreements are being fulfilled in terms of the property and repairs;
  • All settings meet the relevant health and safety standards and proof can be gained such as gas safety certificates, electrical wiring checks and appliances checks;
  • The accommodation is secure (e.g. is there a burglar alarm; locks on windows; mortice locks) and in a safe location.

There should also be 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 and a location assessment should have been carried out at least annually which looks at the safety aspects of the area with the police. The location should enable the child to be safe from harm.  

Support

All support provided must contribute to the child's assessed needs. Similarly, where the young person is placed in 'supported lodgings', the support to be provided must be carefully matched to their needs.

The responsible authority should establish how the provider has been selected, assessed and trained; and how they are supervised. It will be important that the suitability of providers is kept under regular review. 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 competencies to respond to the needs of the child in order to achieve the goals agreed as part of their care plan.

Tenancy status

Where young people are occupying the accommodation as a tenant in their own name then the authority should take steps to ensure that the young person understands their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement and, where there is uncertainty, make sure that the young person has access to independent advice.

The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability

At the commencement of any tenancy the responsible authority must establish that the accommodation is affordable for the young person on the income/benefits available to them and what is covered as part of their agreement. At the time that the young person moves in, arrangements should be in place for funding rent, any service charges, utilities and other tenancy costs. Other costs linked to the location of the property, for example, transport costs to the young person's place of education and/or work, should be taken into account. The responsible authority will need to establish that the young person understands the nature of the funding arrangements and their responsibilities for contributing to the costs of rent, utilities and other tenancy costs. Arrangements should be agreed between the authority and the young person about whether the contents of the accommodation should be insured and how premiums will be covered.

If the young person is expected to be able to remain in the property after they reach the age of 18, consideration should also be given to these elements of affordability in light of the young person's likely financial situation once they are no longer maintained by the local authority. This may involve liaising with the local housing department about of housing benefit or the DWP in relation to housing allowance if the young person needs help with paying their rent.

3.3.2 Child's views and understanding

The child's:

  • Views about the accommodation;
  • Understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the accommodation; and
  • Understanding of funding arrangements.

3.4 Placement Planning

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. 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/agreement and recognises what is expected of them. 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 recorded in the young person's Pathway Plan.

The factors outlined above are not intended to limit choice for young people who wish to and are ready to move to more independent accommodation as part of preparing them for the transition to adult responsibilities. However, these factors outline the issues that will need to be considered at both a strategic and an individual level whenever commissioning supported accommodation for this group. Attention to these factors will assist authorities to be responsible corporate parents by ensuring that whenever children are placed in 'other arrangements' they can be provided with the necessary stability and support. The primary issue to be addressed in making a placement in 'other arrangements', just as in any other placement setting, will be how making this placement meets the assessed needs of the individual child.

Where a move to 'other arrangements' takes place as part of the pathway planning process to prepare a Looked After child for the transition to adulthood, then this move will represent a significant change to the young person's Care Plan. Such a move should only take place following careful planning that will have been scrutinised at the young person's review meeting, chaired by an IRO.

The review must establish that a Pathway Plan is in place. The plan must indicate how it is intended that the proposed move will meet the young person's needs – e.g. that the support to be provided meets the young person's needs and will help to develop their personal skills. The review too must be satisfied that the young person has been properly prepared. It should be routine practice that the young person will have visited any proposed new accommodation so that they are able to take an informed view about its suitability. The move should maintain as much stability as possible and, in particular, enable the young person to pursue their chosen education, training or employment options. The prospective providers should participate in this crucial review meeting. This will allow the review to establish whether the expectations about what the move is intended to achieve will realistically address the young person's needs as set out in the proposed plan. As at every other review, the young person should be supported to take an active part in the meeting, so that all involved can understand how the move is intended to support the young person's future needs and aspirations.

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. The placement planning process should involve an exchange of all the necessary information included as part of the young person's Pathway Plan, so that the provider has a full understanding of the young person's needs and their role in responding to these.

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 Placement 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).

End