Ofsted calls for stronger oversight of multiple providers of children’s homes

The children’s social care inspectorate publishes a research report which finds that current laws are not strong enough for providers that own more than one children's home.

29/10/21

Ofsted calls for stronger oversight of multiple providers of children’s homes

Published as part of two new research reports, Ofsted finds that current legislation does not reflect the level of influence that so-called social care groups have on individual children’s homes.

Ofsted says these providers exert a great deal of influence over their settings, but the inspectorate is currently only able to review individual children’s homes. The reports call for stronger regulatory powers to make sure multiple providers and groups are having a positive impact on children.

The research finds that social care groups have some influence and control over the day-to-day running of their children’s homes, including the models of care and policies implemented, which are generally decided by groups and standardised across their homes.

Social care groups often influence the admissions process, sifting referrals before sending them on to their children’s home managers, as well as playing a significant role when considering whether to end a child’s placement.

Current inspection practice reflects the legal responsibility of children’s home managers, who are registered to individual homes, not social care groups. Inspections and judgements are based on a model where managers have autonomy over the day-to-day running of children’s homes, which does not reflect how the sector has evolved to have a significant proportion of children’s homes under a small number of companies.

For inspection and regulation to have the greatest impact, Ofsted’s says that regulatory oversight is needed at group level, as well as at the individual children’s home level.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Regulation and Social Care, said stronger oversight of large providers is ‘vital’ to make sure children are getting the best deal.

“Current legislation is outdated and doesn’t reflect the early years and social care sectors as they operate today. The upcoming review into children’s social care could be a real opportunity to reform this legislation.

“Our research shows that these large providers have a significant impact on their individual nurseries and children’s homes, and ultimately the education and care that children receive. As Ofsted can only inspect individual settings, we are missing an important part of the picture.”

Read the full report on children’s social care groups: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-groups-of-childrens-homes-work

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