Bridging the Gap respond to BBC care findings
Teenagers in care are placed in unregulated homes and left vulnerable to organised crime the BBC reported yesterday.
The BBC found that 70 per cent more under 16 children in care are now in unregulated facilities than was the case ten years ago.
Unregulated facilities are an easy target for organised crime groups and the police has raised concerns about the number of children recruited by the groups.
In response to the news we spoke to Joy Bamford, the founder of youth accommodation provider Bridging the Gap.
She said: "Semi-Independent accommodation for 16-25 year olds is a very important step for young people, if done properly.
"It gives them the space and the tools to develop their living skills and learn to become fully independent and get away from the many discouraging issues in their life in a safe environment where they can learn to become resilient.
"A good service provides care, support and love and shows our young people that they are cared about and to not feel abandoned and alone. There are many good providers out there who provide consistent support and care.
"They care about the young people placed with them and do their best to keep them safe and looked after, teaching them the life skills they need on an individual basis.
"It is important to provide education and work and all the other things but initially the young people have to have the support to find themselves and settle and be able to understand what good support is and trust the people that are caring for them.
"Many have come from backgrounds that is not like this so it is about teaching them how they should be looked after.
"Accommodation and support provisions for 16-21 year olds needs to be registered. For the last 14 years I have felt this is a necessity and even looked at setting up my own set of standards to help with the unofficial houses being set up by inexperienced persons.
"We would like to be registered. We did apply to be in a trial offered by Ofsted a few years back but unfortunately it was not available in our area. If the Ofsted regulations were in place it may mean the good providers will continue to offer much needed support and the ones who fall short will no longer be used or can be supported to get to the right standards to be registered.
"Unfortunately when it comes to placing young people it is about costings and not necessarily what is best for that young person. If they are not supported in the right way it will cost more in the future. Because there are so many places now set up for young people the people who have it right have suffered with the financial cuts and no longer feel valued as a service. If we had registration we could see who has a good service and who hasn’t.
"When supported accommodation is being sourced the cost is the main priority due to budget cuts imposed on social services. This means cheaper options are often chosen to save money. This isn’t right for the young people and there needs to be a set standard for every project so we can all give the young people the right sort of support and work in a consistent way.
"The main priority should always be the young persons needs and how they will be looked after. The children are our future and we need to be giving them the opportunity they need to get on and have a successful life supporting them through the traumas of being a teenager and young adult, giving them someone in their life they can rely on even when they have left.
"It is a commitment bringing up a child, whether it is your own or someone else’s, and we don’t give up on any child. Sometimes provisions like this are the only stability in their lives. We should be doing our best for a successful outcome using nurturing and education to enhance their chances."