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Quality Standards in Children’s Homes: Early experiences of implementing the new regulations

This report from the National Children’s Bureau presents the findings and recommendations from a small-scale study exploring early experiences of implementing the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015 and accompanying guidance, which replaced the National Minimum Standards. The study was undertaken by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) Research Centre and commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) in autumn 2015.

The new regulations and accompanying guidance came into force on 1 April 2015. Together they set out requirements that must be met by everyone providing residential child care. They include Quality Standards which incorporate aspirational, child-focused outcome statements, and underpinning, measurable requirements for homes.

This qualitative study involved carrying out 21 interviews with a sample of home managers and other stakeholders from the sector between October 2015 and December 2015. It was designed to explore:

  • Examples of new emerging practice and positive learning
  • Barriers and facilitators affecting implementation
  • Perceptions of further support or changes required.

The sample included managers from 15 homes of different sizes across seven UK regions. Participants came from private, voluntary sector and local authority homes, with different Ofsted ratings and different types of provision (ranging from those providing emotional and behavioural difficulties to those supporting children with disabilities to other more specialist homes including secure accommodation). In addition interviews were carried out with three local authority managers and three stakeholders, from associations supporting residential child care. Emerging findings were shared, tested and extended at a workshop hosted by DfE with managers from other homes in January 2016.

The sample was purposively selected to ensure the inclusion of managers from a cross section of children’s homes in order to capture a range of views and experiences. This approach to selecting the sample, as well as the small sample size, however, means that the study cannot draw any numerical conclusions about the prevalence of these views and experiences.