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9.3 Minimum Standards For Children’s Homes


  1. General Introduction
  2. Legal Status of the Standards
  3. Structure and Approach to Inspection
  4. Reference to 'child'
  5. Application and Standards for Short Breaks
  6. Child Secure Accommodation
  7. Review of Care Standards
  8. Access to the Standards

1. General Introduction

The Children’s Homes and Child (Secure) Accommodation Minimum Standards document sets out the Standards that registered providers are expected to apply to their service. These are the minimum Standards required and the Regulation of Care Act 2013 requires that the DHSC considers these Standards when making regulatory decisions; there are opportunities within the Standards for registered providers to be creative, innovative and dynamic when applying them to their service, and providers should use them as a baseline from which to deliver and develop services to the children and young people who use them.

As such, the Standards are designed to be applicable to the wide variety of different types of children and young people accommodated, including children with disabilities or other special needs.

The Standards have been developed to require and encourage registered providers/managers to deliver services:

  • The child’s welfare, safety and needs should be at the centre of their care;
  • Children should have an enjoyable childhood, and benefit from excellent parenting and education; enjoying a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills;
  • Children are entitled to grow up in a loving environment that can meet their developmental needs;
  • Every child should have his or her wishes and feelings listened to and taken account of;
  • Each child should be valued as an individual and given personalised support in line with their individual needs and backgrounds to enable them to develop their identity, self-confidence and self-worth;
  • The specific needs of disabled children and children with complex needs will be fully recognised and taken into account;
  • Looked after children should wherever possible maintain relationships with birth parents and their wider family;
  • Children in residential care should be given the opportunity to experience as fully as possible a supportive and homely environment;
  • Staff are provided with development opportunities to enable them to provide the best care for children;
  • A genuine partnership between all those involved in the care of the child is essential in ensuring that the best outcomes for children are delivered; this partnership includes all statutory agencies involved.

2. Legal Status of the Standards

The Standards are issued by the Department of Health & Social Care under section 35 of the Regulation of Care Act 2013. Regulation 9 of the Regulation of Care (Care Services) Regulations 2013 requires registered persons to ensure that the care service meets all minimum Standards applicable to that service. The Standards are issued for use by the Registration & Inspection Unit who take them into account when undertaking inspection of children’s homes.

The service provider can also use them to self-assess their own service and they can provide a basis for staff induction and training; they also provide reassurance for parents, guardians and professionals that the care delivered to children meets agreed Standards that aim to ensure good outcomes for children being looked after. Children and Young People can also read them and know what to expect from their care provider.

3. Structure and Approach to Inspection

The minimum Standards for children’s homes focus on delivering good and achievable outcomes for children. The expected outcome for each standard is clearly stated in bold text and is supported by criteria, which if met, indicates that this outcome will be achieved. The Department takes a proportionate and flexible approach to the supporting criteria, which do not have to be followed exactly, if the provider can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the inspector that the outcome is being met in a different way. The exception to this is that anything in the criteria that is duplicated in the Act or in Regulations must be met.

Inspectors will use evidence which demonstrates the provider’s compliance with Standards, regulations and the primary legislation, as well as information from other sources to make an inspection judgement about the overall effectiveness of the service and the registered persons continued suitability to provide that service. There is a range of ‘steps’ that can be taken by the regulator to ensure that services remain ‘fit for purpose’ and in this respect inspectors have a monitoring role that goes beyond simply carrying out an annual site visit. The Department has published inspection guidelines which can be accessed via the web-site and will show registered persons the approach taken to inspection.

4. Reference to ‘child’

To make the Standards easier to read the term ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used throughout. However, all references to these terms are to be read to include any person accommodated at the home (other than staff or volunteers). Sometimes this may include a young person who was placed at the home as a looked after child and continues to remain at the home after their 18thbirthday while they complete their school studies. Adults may be accommodated in a children’s home under appropriate circumstances as long as the home remains ‘wholly or mainly for children’ as required by section 22(1) of the Regulation of Care Act 2013.

5. Application of the Standards for Short Breaks

There are some Standards that don’t apply or partially apply and this is made clear within the Standards.

6. Child Secure Accommodation

This is a separate registration under the Regulation of Care Act. Standard 25 deals specifically with this category but in addition all the preceding Standards also apply.

7. Review of Care Standards

These Standards will be reviewed in 2016.

8. Access to the Standards

Access to the standards can simply be achieved by using viewing, Children’s Homes & Child (Secure) Accommodation Minimum Standards Registration & Inspection Unit.