Minimum standards will not benefit children

Children will lose out if national standards for children’s
homes are based on minimum requirements rather than a graded merit
system, a Kent children’s home group has warned.

Ethelbert Specialist Homes, which provides residential places
for 40 Kent children, has called for a system similar to the one
currently run by Kent Council where homes strive towards targets of
“exemplary practice”, “good practice” or “acceptable practice”.

The proposed new standards for children’s homes have only a
minimum standard to be attained.

“We should be providing the best care possible and not just be
‘good enough’ to meet minimum standards,” said group director Les
Davenport in a written response to the Department of Health’s
consultation on the standards. He said most of the
Whitehall-proposed minimum standards would reach only the
“acceptable” level on the Kent scale.

The proposal will be a surprise to health secretary Alan Milburn
who was forced to postpone the introduction of some minimum
standards for older people’s homes after homeowners said they would
be unable to meet the standards in the original shorter timescale
because of the costs involved.

Kent’s graded standards system will be lost when the National
Care Standards Commission takes responsibility for standards from
local authorities from April 2002.

But Andy Robinson, head of inspection and registration for
children’s services in Kent, told Community Care he was not worried
that local standards would drop.

“Inspectors from the commission will not be simply ticking boxes
for pass and fail. They may be able to make comments if they see
excellence and good practice,” he said.

The closing date for responses to the consultation document on
national minimum standards for children’s homes is 21 September.
The paper is available at:

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