Children in unregistered homes a ‘national issue’

The placement of young people into unregistered care homes in Birmingham is a ‘national issue’, the chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Trust has said.

Speaking following an Ofsted inspection of the city’s children’s services, Andy Couldrick said that while placing 16 and 17-year-olds into unregistered homes is kept ‘to an absolute minimum’, he conceded that it was sometimes necessary to take such steps in order ‘to keep a young person safe’.

Ofsted had highlighted the issue in its report into the service, writing: “For those children aged 16 to 17 years old placed in unregistered children’s homes, there has been insufficient management oversight to assure the quality of placements.

“Decisions to place children in unregistered homes have been made following extensive searches.

“The small number of unregistered placements for 16 to 17-year-olds are not subject to the same level of senior management oversight, meaning that there is not the same level of assurance that children are well cared for.

“When alerted to this by inspectors, senior managers agreed during the visit that this would be addressed.”

And, when asked about the practice at this week’s cabinet meeting, Mr Couldrick explained how and why unregistered homes are used by the service.

“There’s a national challenge around placement sufficiency and the number, particularly of older people, coming into care is growing,” he said.

“Sometimes we have to put arrangements together that keep a young person safe but in an environment that doesn’t have Ofsted regulation. It happens all over the country, and we keep it to an absolute minimum.

“When we do it we report ourselves to Ofsted, so we’re completely transparent about it. That’s what leads to them making reference to it when they come and examine our services.

“Ofsted acknowledge that it’s a national issue, they just want to make certain around the arrangements that we have, and the supervision of those arrangements, and our efforts to bring them to a close as quickly as we can by moving young people on into regulated care in registered homes, and that that process is overseen.

“And they concluded that it largely was, and pointed us to make sure we do the very best that we can.”

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