Written evidence submitted by NAGALRO, The Professional Association for Children's Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers


Nagalro submission to:


Education Select Committee

Children’s Homes


Call for Evidence.



Nagalro welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the Education Select Committee's call for evidence on 'Children's Homes'.


Our evidence addresses 'The use and appropriateness of unregulated provision'.


Members of the Committee will be aware that Section 31 of the Children Act 1989 makes provision for a Court, following an application by a Local Authority, and if certain conditions are met, to make a Care Order in relation to a named child under the age of 17 at the time the Order is made. A Care Order usually ceases to have effect when the child reaches the age of 18.


Section 33 of the Act states that whilst the Care Order is in force the Local Authority shall 'have parental responsibility for the child'.  In some instances it has become common practice to place children aged 14, 15, 16 and 17 in unregulated accommodation, which means there is no requirement for Ofsted to formally inspect that accommodation. Members of the committee will be aware of major concern about the use of unregulated accommodation which has been particularly highlighted by television documentaries and other media.


Members will be aware that the DfE has announced that the use of unregulated accommodation for children aged 15 and under will be banned from 09 September 2021 when the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/161) will come into force.


However Children subject to a Care Order who are aged 16 and 17 will still legally be able to be placed in unregulated accommodation.


Nagalro is concerned that this in effect has removed the element of 'Care' from a Care Order which has resulted in the amendment of primary legislation by the back door without appropriate parliamentary scrutiny by both Houses.


The Committee will also be aware that the House of Lords debated these Regulations on 22 March 2021 (at Hansard column 692).  We urge the Committee to read the Hansard report of that debate.


Nagalro notes that the previous Children's Commissioner for England, Ms Anne Longfield, in an article published by the Guardian in January 2021 strongly opposed the use of 'unregulated accommodation ' which we draw to the attention of the Committee.   The link to the article in The Guardian is here:


We strongly suggest that the Committee, in its formal report, opposes the use of unregulated accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds both in relation to children subject to a Care Order and additionally to children 'Looked After' under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.


30 April 2021



About Nagalro


  1. Nagalro is the professional association for Family Court Advisers, Children’s Guardians and Independent Social Workers It has approximately 700 full members in England and Wales who represent the interests of children in a range of public and private law proceedings.   Our members are senior, highly experienced children and family social workers who work in a variety of roles.  Many work as independent social workers and risk assessors providing expert witness reports in a wide range of complex cases coming before the family courts; in fostering and adoption agencies; in independent practice providing therapeutic services; as academics; as supervisors, mentors and consultants.  Members have significant experience as managers, chairs of Adoption Panels and other specialist social work practitioner roles.


  1. Members also act as Children’s Guardians and Family Court Advisers for the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) where they work in tandem with children panel solicitors to represent the interests of children in care and other family proceedings.


  1. Our members are primarily concerned to promote the paramount welfare of vulnerable children who are involved in family court cases.  They have an important role in enabling the child’s voice to be heard in court proceedings, so enabling compliance with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.   They assist family courts to reach decisions about what plans will safeguard the child’s interests and best provide for their future welfare.


  1. Issues relating to the potential intended use of unregulated accommodation are of course relevant to our members informing a view about the welfare of the child as the legislation required.


April 2021