Independent Children’s Homes Association makes regional mark

The Independent Children’s Homes Association held the first of what it hopes will be a series of meetings designed to boost its presence in the regions of England and Wales yesterday.

Members from across London and the South East attended the meeting, which will be followed by another regional meeting in the North West. The association, which represents over 70 organisations, is looking to set up a regional structure to inform its work nationally and engage more members in its activities.

Issues raised at yesterday’s meeting included the lack of take-up of the government’s national contract for children’s residential homes, which is designed to provide a model agreement for commissioners and providers. Last month, the ICHA’s executive officer, Roy Williamson, called for the contract to be made compulsory after accusing councils of failing to increase fees for councils in line with inflation – as advised by the contract.

Members also discussed Ofsted’s proposal to publish its inspection reports on children’s homes, which is currently out to consultation. Ofsted publishes all inspection reports concerning other services, but ICHA members warned that publishing children’s homes reports could put vulnerable children at risk from hostile members of the public, people they knew or even paedophiles, if they or their home were identifiable.

Members also suggested priorities for a strategic development plan that ICHA is drawing up, including seeking to increase membership, providing access to legal advice for organisations and developing a kitemark scheme to accredit high-quality organisations.

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