Children's Minister Speaks about Reforms in Residential Child Care

  • The government has revealed a broad range of reforms to fix the country's bad residential child care system.

    Children's minister, Edward Timpson said: "Residential child care has been ignored and left to fail for too long."

    "He also said that the reforms will lead to a much sharper focus on transparency, a drive for higher quality in children's homes and stricter measures to hold councils and homes to account for the decisions they make when placing children."

    He made it clear that children's homes will need to meet higher standards of safety and quality.

    -Paper Family II- A seven-month investigation into children's homes by BBC Panorama discovered that one in four children are placed in homes rated 'inadequate' or 'adequate' by Ofsted, and over half of children in residential care are placed away from their local area.

    Edward Timpson alleged that:

    "Children's residential care has been ignored for too long, leading to unacceptable failings in the system. We've worked hard over the last year to identify the problems and are now taking strong action to tackle them.

    However, children in care should expect the same standards that we would want for our own children. Our reforms will improve the quality of care and tackle the out-of-sight, out-of-mind culture and poor decision making, so vulnerable children are safe.

    I'm a strong believer that transparency drives up quality. Our package of reforms will remove the secrecy which has shrouded residential care for too many years -shining a light on where local authorities and care homes can do better." 

    The government's reforms will implement recommendations.

    The following measures were outlined today: 

    • That new homes should be opened by Ofsted in safe areas and these should be runned by skilled providers; rules should be introduced to this effect.
    • The safety of the children in the homes that are already opened in less safe areas should be guaranteed or Ofsted will close them down.
    • The staff that work in childrens' homes should achieve minimum qualifications.
    • Except where it involves risk identifying children, the full inspection of children as well as ownership should be published.
    • Homes must also clearly indicate what they need to be provided so that the childrens needs may appropriately met.
    • Rules should be introduced so that homes can tell councils when to move in or out of the area.
    • Out-of-area placements will only be subject to an approval by a senior council official.

    Ofsted's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said:

    Ofsted welcomed the new procedures, including those "which will strengthen our ability to drive up standards in children's homes and act against poor performing providers to help keep these young people safe".

    Later this summer, the government will circulate additional data and analysis on the whereabout and quality of care homes, and how children are placed in councils.

    These will be used to harness the progress of authorities on choosing and paying for places in children's homes, and inspire them to find more local placements.

    "From September, Ofsted will inspect local authorities' performance to examine how they are meeting the statutory requirements to reduce the number of children who go missing from care."

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