Emphasis on support under new children's home standards
Friday, September 19, 2014
Children's homes will be required to show how they support young people and respond to their wishes as part of ongoing government efforts to improve standards.
The proposed set of nine quality standards for children’s homes set out the outcomes that children must be supported to achieve while in residential care.
Homes will have to evidence how they are supporting children to achieve positive outcomes when inspected.
Staff will be expected to speak to their children’s teachers, help them with their homework, encourage them to pursue their hobbies and support them in making friends both inside and outside the home.
The proposed standards, which are due to come into effect in April 2015, will be enforced as part of a new Ofsted inspection framework, designed to make sure homes provide a safe and secure environment.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson said: “For the first time ever, all homes will be required to clearly demonstrate how they're supporting children to achieve the best of their ability in important areas of their lives including education and health, while raising the bar by working to tougher new standards.
“I want the care system to propel all children to a life full of achievement and self-belief, not leave them feeling isolated, unsupported and vulnerable.
“These new quality standards will help to do just that – making sure all children receive the best start in life, no matter what their background or starting point.”
The proposed regulations, which are out for consultation until 14 November, represent the second round of regulatory reforms to children’s homes by the coalition government.
The first round of reforms, which came into effect earlier this year, aim to ensure settings are located in safe areas, and children’s homes and local authorities effectively safeguard children at risk of going missing.
Enver Solomon, director of evidence and impact at the National Children’s Bureau, said that despite some excellent children's homes, there is “a worrying lack of consistent high-quality provision across the country”.
“Every child in every residential home should be looked after in the same way that loving parents care for their children and meet their needs,” he said.
“The new quality standards set out by the government today are critical to ensuring this happens.”
But Jonathan Stanley, chief executive of the Independent Children's Homes Association, said his organisation has "serious concerns" about the new regulations.
"There is a lot of work needed for them to better represent the needs of young people in residential settings and the practice required to meet them," he said.
"Providers requested that there should be one consultation for these standards, with explanatory notes, guide and inspection framework. The impact of these standards cannot be understood without having the inspection framework alongside.
"These standards are open to individual interpretation by inspector or provider. This already is making things fraught.
"We should have the expectation that any new standards make things better.”
In March, Ofsted announced it would be delaying the introduction of new inspections of children’s homes so it could take account of the latest regulations.