Children's homes provide support to often vulnerable young people; ensuring their wellbeing can be complex, and requires rigorous adherence to guidelines.

What are the Children's Homes Regulations 2015?

The Children's Homes Regulations, brought into force in April 2015, aim to ensure children's care, protection, and positive development. These regulations form the cornerstone of quality care and support for children's homes and cover the following:

  1. Nine quality standards: These aim to ensure children's wellbeing and positive development, covering their care quality, perspective, education, achievements, relationships, health, protection, leadership, and care planning.
  2. Safeguarding: The protection of children from harm, abuse, and neglect and the creation of a safe environment.
  3. Staff training and qualifications: The importance of having qualified and trained staff members with the necessary skills and knowledge.
  4. Inspections: To ensure compliance with the regulations, children's homes are subject to regular inspections by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Children’s homes in figures

  • As of 31 March 2023, the number of children’s homes has risen year-on-year by 9%, reaching 2,880 facilities, compared to a 7% year-on-year increase for data released on 31 March 2022.1
  • As of 31 March 2023, private companies oversaw 85% of children's homes (2,450 establishments), with 81% of places, while local authorities managed 12% of children's homes (333 establishments).2
  • The net current expenditure budget allocated for the local authorities is £117.6 billion in 2023 to 2024, 5.9% (£6.5 billion) higher than in 2022 to 2023.3

What are the nine quality standards for children's homes?

The core of the Children's Homes Regulations is composed of nine quality standards that children's homes must adhere to. These aim to collectively shape an environment where children are cared for and nurtured to reach their potential. The intention is to foster resilience, empowerment, and a sense of belonging.

1. The standard of care quality and purpose

Encompasses the children’s needs from a physical, emotional, and psychological perspective. By providing an environment that caters to individual requirements, children should experience a safe haven to encourage growth and development.

2. The children's views, wishes, and feelings standard

This measure recognises the significance of involving children in decisions about their lives. It intends to ensure that their perspectives are heard and taken into account, fostering a sense of belonging and self-worth. By having their opinions valued, children gain both confidence and a deeper understanding of their identity, as well as a valid pathway to expressing their needs.

3. The education standard

This standard guarantees access to appropriate educational opportunities that nurture individual potential. By establishing a supportive learning environment, children can overcome challenges, embrace learning, and find appropriate opportunities to pave the way for their long-term personal and professional growth.

4. The enjoyment and achievement standard

Childhood should be a time of exploration and discovery. This tenet emphasises the importance of fostering an environment where children can have fun while achieving personal milestones. Children should be encouraged to build a strong sense of self-esteem and accomplishment, enabling them to pursue interests, build skills, and celebrate achievements.

5. The positive relationships standard

Building emotional bonds is crucial for children's emotional wellbeing. This standard focuses on nurturing positive relationships with caregivers, peers, and the wider community. Children should be guided to develop the social skills, emotional resilience, and support network they need to thrive by fostering connections rooted in trust, respect, and care.

6. The health and wellbeing standard

The health and wellbeing standard ensures residents' comprehensive physical and emotional care. It encompasses access to nutritious meals, medical support, mental health services, and a focus on healthy lifestyle. Children should develop lifelong habits, resilience, and a strong foundation for a healthy future by promoting wellbeing.

7. The protection of children’s standard

This tenet stipulates the importance of establishing a secure haven for children, involving rigorous staff vetting, incident reporting, and emergency protocols. This is vital in creating an environment of trust, ensuring children's safety, fostering positive relationships, and providing protection from harm and maltreatment.

8. The leadership and management standard

The foundation of a well-run home lies in strong and engaged leadership and management. This measure underscores the importance of effective leadership, skilled staff, and efficient management practices. By establishing sound management structures, children's homes can rigorously maintain high standards of care, ensuring residents receive consistent support and guidance.

9. The care planning standard

Every child's journey is unique, and this standard recognises that. It mandates the creation of personalised care plans tailored to each child's needs, goals, and aspirations. By developing individualised roadmaps for growth, children are given the best opportunities to confidently overcome challenges.

Who inspects children's homes?

Ofsted is the central registration authority, overseeing the adherence to regulations and conducting inspections since 1993. Ofsted conducts inspections on the following criteria:

  • Educational excellence: Assessing the quality of learning provided.
  • Attitudes and behaviour: Evaluating the home environment and student conduct.
  • Personal development: Supporting students' personal development for their future.
  • Effective leadership: Gauging the home's management by its leadership team.

Ofsted children’s homes inspections generate reports that aim to highlight accountability and transparency in care provision.

Which establishments must comply with children's homes regulations?

Ofsted is responsible for overseeing and inspecting a wide spectrum of care facilities covered by children's homes regulations:

  • Secure children's homes
  • Boarding schools
  • Short break care centres

The objective across all these children’s care environments is to ensure consistent quality care is in place. These inspections are intended to be comprehensive and aim to evaluate the prioritisation of quality care, wellbeing, safety, and development of children.

What else should children's homes consider?

The running of care homes is complex, and it is vitally important for organisations to safeguard themselves through children's homes insurance. While the core focus remains on nurturing young lives, care homes should not overlook the importance of safeguarding against unforeseen circumstances.

Why does children’s homes insurance matter?

  • Employers' liability covers compensation claims for employee injuries.
  • Public liability safeguards against injury or property damage claims from residents or third parties.
  • Abuse and molestation coverage protects against claims of abuse incidents.
  • Professional indemnity offers a defence against claims arising from perceived negligence.
  • Treatment risk insurance guards against liabilities from administered treatments.
  • Residents' personal belongings coverage protects possessions.
  • Buildings and contents insurance is vital to ensure repair or replacement in case of fire or flood.

Benefits of comprehensive care insurance

Whereas children's homes insurance is specialised for the unique needs of residential care facilities for children, comprehensive care insurance has a broader scope catering also to healthcare and care-related settings. The choice as to which is more applicable depends on the specific needs and risks associated with the care facility in question.

  • Comprehensive protection: Comprehensive care coverage ensures complete safeguarding of care facilities and their assets.
  • Financial resilience: A safety net against unplanned costs, securing budgets from unexpected challenges.
  • Staff welfare: Addressing employee injury claims and safeguarding their wellbeing.
  • Legal support: Provides legal assistance in liability claims, ensuring proper defence.
  • Reputation shield: Protects against incidents that could impact the care home's image.

Due to the unpredictable nature of children's homes, insurance helps proactively safeguard against the unknown. Children's homes insurance and comprehensive care insurance are more than just protective shields. They signify commitment to the safety and wellbeing of the children in care.