Ofsted warns against use of unregistered children’s homes

Ofsted has issued a fresh warning against the placement of vulnerable children, including those subject to deprivation of liberty orders, in unregistered children’s homes.

Children subject to deprivation of liberty (DoL) orders have complex needs and require high levels of skilled care and supervision. Too often, these children are placed in illegal unregistered settings without external oversight.

New guidance, published this week, makes clear that settings offering children’s home services for children subject to DoL orders should register with Ofsted in England or the Care Inspectorate Wales.

The court order does not exempt the provider from being registered. Operating a children’s home without registration remains illegal.

Ofsted has also updated its guidance on how it prioritises applications to register children’s homes when local authorities need urgent placements for children.

This means that providers accommodating children who have been placed by a local authority in an “emergency”, children who are subject to a DoL order, and unaccompanied asylum seeking children can have their application expedited. However, registration requirements and regulations must be met before a provider is deemed suitable.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s Director for Social Care, said:

“It’s unacceptable that some of our most vulnerable children with very complex needs are living in places with the least oversight; where we do not know if they are safe, or if the people caring for them are suitable or skilled enough to meet their needs.

We know that many children deprived of their liberty are placed in illegal unregistered settings. It is important that providers register and local authorities play their part to ensure vulnerable children are only placed in registered settings.”

Read the “Placing children: deprivation of liberty orders” guidance.

Read the “Registering children’s homes in an emergency: priority applications” guidance.

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