Children’s Homes Data Pack
The Department for Education published the Children’s Homes Data Pack in September 2013.
This pack presents data about children’s homes in England. It provides information on the children in the homes, the homes and their quality, their location and ownership, their cost, and the children’s homes market. The Government believes that transparency is an essential tool in driving up quality and much of this information is being published for the first time.
The data in slides 18, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31 and 36 is available in the spreadsheets that accompany this pack.
Children’s homes fulfil a number of purposes and cater for a range of children’s needs, from late entrant adolescents with challenging behaviour, who have spent long periods of time out of school and may quickly return to their family, to young people at risk of CSE (child sexual exploitation), children and teenagers with complex mental health problems, and respite provision for disabled children.
Provision is mixed between local authority-owned homes, and homes owned by the private and voluntary sector; most local authorities (LAs) make use of both. There are a variety of private provider ownership structures, including private equity and venture capital, family-owned companies and individual social entrepreneurs.
For the first time, we are publishing the inspection judgements awarded to the homes of the largest private providers. We also present a comparison of the inspection judgements of LA-owned and privately owned homes, which suggests little difference in quality. Costs in both are high relative to alternatives (e.g. fostering).
The data shows where there is under-supply and over-supply of places in local areas; and how LAs vary in their use both of out-of-area placements, and placements far from a child’s home. These may be in the interests of the child; but they may also increase risk.
The data in this pack poses challenges for local and national government and all providers of children’s homes. More data, and further analysis, will be published in future as it becomes available. The Government is working with Ofsted, LAs and providers to improve the market, match local supply with demand and understand better how cost and quality affect individual children’s outcomes.
Summary and Context
The national market is not dominated by any single large provider, with the largest 20 private companies between them
providing just over a quarter of all placements. However in some LA areas single providers own a significant proportion of the supply.
The data suggests that the geographical supply of places in general does not match demand. The picture is complex as some homes cater for highly specialised needs and hence draw children from a wider area.
We also need a better understanding of the different types of specialist provision, the quality and location of these homes.
Forthcoming research1 suggests that LAs lack information as to the location, quality and precise specialism of places available. Furthermore, LAs (working singly or in partnerships so that they have the necessary scale) could do more to effectively forecast their demand for services, and engage with the market as to the level of need they predict and the range of services that they require.
The Government’s Conclusions and Next Steps
The Government wants to ensure the best placements and outcomes for children in residential care.
Greater transparency will help, which is why we are publishing this data pack.The data pack poses questions for central Government, local authorities and private and voluntary providers.
The Government is working with Ofsted, LAs and providers to explore improvements in themarket. We will set out proposals later in the year.
Press the link to see the Children’s Homes Data Pack