Ofsted has set out the process of registration for supported accommodation providers following the news that it will begin offering “essential oversight” of these services for children in care and care leavers aged 16 to 17.
Until now, the provision of supported accommodation for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17 has had no independent scrutiny, potentially leaving children “at risk in unsafe or unsuitable accommodation, including caravans and boats”, said Ofsted.
The body said regulation and inspection will provide “crucial oversight of the sector” as well as assessing whether accommodation is safe and meets children’s individual needs.
Last month, the government published new quality standards that providers of supported accommodation must meet.
Under new regulations, providers will need to submit applications to register with Ofsted by 28th October 2023. After this date it will be an offence to provide supported accommodation without having a registration application accepted as complete.
Ofsted has since published guidance to support providers with their applications. The guidance sets out in detail the registration process, including the evidence required from applicants and how Ofsted will assess the suitability of relevant individuals. Applications will start to be accepted from 28th April.
Ofsted said it will consult on proposals for the new inspection methodology in summer 2023 and will run pilot inspections in the autumn. Inspections of supported accommodation will begin in April 2024.
Yvette Stanley, National Director Regulation and Social Care:
“I am really pleased that we are taking this first step in the regulation of supported accommodation. Supported accommodation can be the right fit for some older looked after children and care leavers who are ready for independence and need varying levels of support. But for too long there hasn’t been any independent oversight of this diverse and growing sector, and the quality of supported accommodation remains far too variable.
We are committed to getting the regulatory balance right. We will act sensibly and proportionally, but we will always have high expectations for children. Supported accommodation should be caring, kind and nurturing. We will continue to engage with children, young people, providers and others as we develop our proposals for inspection.”