Government opens consultation to revise children’s home regulations
The Department for Education (DfE) has opened a consultation seeking views on proposals to revise the Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 by introducing “new quality standards for children’s homes”.
The proposed reforms follow the publication of reports in 2012 from the deputy children’s commissioner and the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, which found failings in the system that left “vulnerable children cared for in placements that weren’t safe or that didn’t meet their needs”. This sparked the DfE to begin a new programme of reform for children’s homes to address “serious weaknesses” in the children’s residential care system.
Parliamentary under secretary of state for children and families, Edward Timpson, noted the importance of consistent and high quality care for every child, no matter the setting: “One key theme that came up time and time again, and it was most often pointed out by the children and young people themselves, was that nobody expected the best of them,” he explained.
“Residential care needs to emulate the culture and values of excellent homes so that every home is aiming high and achieving the best for the children they care for. No longer should those caring for a child see a placement in a children’s home as the end of the road or second best to a placement in foster care.”
Whilst recent regulatory changes focused on improving the safety of residential care homes for children, the proposed changes intend to “substantially improve the quality and consistency of care” providing a space in which each child’s individual needs are met so that they may each reach their “full potential”.
“child-centred quality standards”
The DfE proposes to introduce quality standards within children’s homes, as Timpson explains: “Talking about this ambition with many of those providing and working in residential care led us to consider the creation of child-centred quality standards that would make clear the outcomes children should be supported to achieve while living in children’s homes. These standards match the aspirations we have for our own children and mirror the high expectations we have for children to achieve in important areas of their life including in education and health.”
The consultation document goes on to say: “Each standard has an aspirational, child-focused outcome statement, followed by a clear set of underpinning, measurable requirements that homes must meet to achieve the standard.”
As well as “streamlining” administrative processes by allowing the use of electronic records, the proposal also intends to replace the current national minimum standards with a guide.
Should all the reforms be adopted, Ofsted will use the regulatory framework as a basis to regulate and inspect care homes which all children’s homes providers would be required to meet.
Full documentation, proposal dates and information can be found here.