Teens in care are being housed alone in B&Bs
Observer investigation finds increased use of ‘independent living arrangements’. An increasing number of under-18- year-olds in care are being housed in ‘independent living accommodation’ by local authorities, according to an investigation by The Observer and BBC 5 Live.
The report, based partly on answers to Freedom of Information requests, finds that there has been a 28 per cent increase in such placements over the last eight years. Independent living accommodation includes unsupervised bed and breakfast rooms as well as bedsits.
The number of looked-after children placed in independent living arrangements by English local authorities rose from 2,420 in 2010 to 3,090 in 2018. In Wales, over the same period, the number of such arrangements grew by 73 per cent, from 75 to 130.
The Children’s Commissioner is now launching an investigation into the crisis.
Independent Reviewing Officers
NIROMP is clear that Independent Reviewing Officer (IROs) should be challenging to uphold these hard-fought for legal protections. IROs have a clear statutory function to assist children and young people to obtain legal advice and representation where applicable.
All IRO services must have a clear and simple system for IROs to raise their concerns with relevant managers. Referenced in the 2004 Guidance as a “local dispute resolution” process, it must be recognised and prioritised by all levels of Children’s Social Care management, the Local Authority Executive and the relevant partner organisations. Advocacy for the child and agreed measures to assist children and young people to obtain legal advice must also be available to the child.
In using the local dispute resolution process the IRO should direct their concerns as to how the local authority’s action / inaction may breach the child’s human rights. This usually relates to:
Article 3 – the article governing prohibition of torture provides for the right of the child to protection
Article 6 – right to a fair trial
Article 8 – right to family life.
It is vitally important that all IROs are adequately supported to fulfil their statutory obligations to the child or young person. NIROMP’s regional support networks cover the nine government regions of England – offering support to IROs and IRO Managers.
For The Observer report, click here.