More inspections for failing homes

Poorly performing children’s homes will be inspected at least three times a year to ensure progress, the government has proposed.

Plans to update the regulatory framework for children’s services to ensure that the Commission for Social Care Inspection is able to focus its inspection activity on providers about which it has the greatest level of concern include cutting the number of times good children’s homes are inspected each year from two to one.

However, those homes deemed to be providing a poor service can expect the inspectors to turn up – announced or otherwise – on average once every four months. A mid-way position of two inspections per year could also be introduced for “adequate” performers.

“We consider that the level of risk in children’s homes and residential special schools and the vulnerability of the children and young people living there is such that a three yearly minimum inspection frequency would not be appropriate,” the guidance states. “We therefore propose a minimum of one inspection a year for all children’s homes and residential special school providers.”

The plan, put out to consultation this week, proposes that the longest interval between inspections for all other providers of children’s social services should be three years. For local authority adoption services, voluntary adoption agencies and adoption support agencies this means no change. However, for fostering services and residential family centres this represents a move from annual inspections to one every three years.

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