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Ofsted research published into matching of children to children’s home places

Ofsted has recently published research and analysis into the matching of children to available placements in children's homes. Ofsted had identified that not much was known, particularly on a qualitative basis, about why children enter children's homes and therefore conducted a study to better understand how children are matched to placements and to what extent the child's wishes and feelings are considered in the decision-making process.

Ofsted identified that whilst local authorities in England have a 'sufficiency duty' to ensure as far as reasonably practicable that there is sufficient accommodation within their area to meet the needs of children in care, there is an 'uneven distribution' of children's homes across the country and a well-known lack of suitable accommodation.

Some of the key findings showed:

• the current placement was the first time ever in care for almost one fifth of the children

• residential care was part of the intended care plan for just over half of the children

• foster care was part of the original care plan for just over one third of the children

• two thirds of the children entered a children's home because of some form of interruption in their previous care: foster placement breakdown (41%), children's home breakdown (15%) or family breakdown (12%)

• the move to a children's home was planned for almost four fifths of the children; that is, all the necessary preparations were made in advance

• the move to a children's home was an emergency move for one fifth of the children; that is, events either at home or in another care placement meant that urgent action had to be taken that resulted in the child entering the children's home

• around three quarters of the children were judged – by the inspector and registered manager – to be well matched to the home

Ofsted intends to publish a further report later in 2022 as to what services children's homes are able to provide and what needs they are able to meet.

For the Ofsted research and analysis, click here.

Julia Queen, Barrister, Coram Chambers