Children’s homes will face tougher inspections from next month, which could see them rated ‘inadequate’ if they are not protecting or promoting children’s welfare.
The new inspection framework, which Ofsted consulted on late last year, will come into force on 1 April. Inspectors will have new powers to give homes an automatic ‘inadequate’ rating if they are not found to be protecting children properly.
Children’s experiences and journeys will be central to how homes are rated, according to Ofsted, while a key judgement will be how well children are helped and protected. The effectiveness and impact of managers will also come under new focus.
Inspection ratings will be changed in line with children’s service inspections, so, the ‘requires improvement’ rating will replace the current ‘adequate’ judgement.
A risk-assessed approach to reassessing children’s homes judged ‘inadequate’ will replace the current policy of returning for a full inspection within six to eight weeks.
The new framework was piloted in nine homes, received 85 consultation responses and Ofsted consulted directly with young people.
Debbie Jones, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said the watchdog wants homes to know and understand the difference they are making in children and young people’s lives.
The new framework “will assess whether children’s homes are providing the best possible care, while improving children’s life chances and helping them to successfully manage their lives as young adults”, she said.
Responses to the consultation were generally positive, but the ‘requires improvement’ grade raised concerns that commissioners would not choose homes with that rating. This echoes recent concerns raised by the Independent Children Homes Association.