Police check delays disrupt staffing at children’s homes

Delays in the processing of Criminal Records Bureau checks are
seriously disrupting services in children’s homes and could force
some to close.

Some providers of children’s services are reporting an eight to
10-week wait for CRB enhanced disclosures – checks on staff working
with children or vulnerable adults. This has been exacerbated by
confusion over whether children’s home managers need to register
with the new National Care Standards Commission by the beginning of

The Association of Independent Child Care Providers – a
coalition of 16 companies running nearly 200 child care homes – has
warned that staffing levels at some homes are now so critical that
they could be forced to close. David Ayers, chairperson of the
AICCP, said he had 40 managers waiting for checks. “I’ve got the
people but they can’t start work. Homes can’t operate unless they
are fully staffed.” He added: “If managers aren’t allowed to work
until they get CRB checks do you have children unsupervised?”

Some regional NCSC offices have recognised the problem and are
allowing managers waiting for checks to work in homes under
supervision, but others are not.

John Kemmis, chief executive of Voice for the Child in Care,
said he had applied in early May for nine CRB checks as part of a
new visiting service to secure training centres. A month into the
contract only three have been granted. “We were able to adapt our
working practices but for managers of homes this would cause a
greater problem. The NCSC either has a choice between people that
haven’t had the vetting or they presumably won’t have anyone
looking after the children,” he said.

The backlog has built up because regional NCSC offices are
interpreting the requirements for registration differently –
providers believed those managers already approved under the old
system wouldn’t have to register with the commission.

However, the NCSC said the confusion had arisen because
children’s home providers could transfer their accreditation across
to the new register, but all home managers were required to go
through the registration process. “If providers come across
regional variations they should contact their area manager or
director who’ll make sure they are eradicated,” an NCSC
spokesperson said.

The NCSC is reviewing the assessment process that care home
nurses undergo to register with the commission following concerns
that it could be overly onerous.

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