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Highest number of children’s homes registered could be in response to COVID

The highest number of children’s homes were registered by Ofsted between April and August, potentially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ofsted registered 176 new children’s homes between 1 April and 31 August, the highest number recorded in that period. This follows a continued increase in registrations year on year since at least 2015 and a small number of these registrations were fast-tracked where provision was urgently needed.

Of the 176 new homes, 155 were run by private companies, 13 were run by local authorities and eight were run by voluntary organisations.

Twenty three of the 176 new children’s homes were registered on the site of a previously closed children’s home and are classed as re-registrations. Of these 23 re-registrations, 11 occurred within a year of the previous registration closing. The other 12 had been closed for longer than a year, with five being closed for over five years. It is possible that local authorities and other providers have reopened old settings to cope with the additional demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or due to other increased demand.

London has had the fewest children’s homes for many years. However, between 1 April 2020 and 31 August 2020, 13 new homes opened, higher than in the same period for at least 10 years. This was an increase of 11%, the highest percentage increase of any region. One of these homes was only opened temporarily to cover the additional demand due to COVID-19.

The North West had the highest number of children’s homes at both 31 March and 31 August 2020. The number of homes rose from 590 to 633, a 7% increase.

London had the fewest homes at 31 March (122), but saw the largest percentage increase in the number of homes. There were 13 new homes, and no de-registrations, in the region between 1 April and 31 August. This caused an 11% rise in the number of homes.

Ofsted conducted 255 monitoring visits to 171 children’s homes of all types between 1 April 2020 and 31 August 2020, representing 7% of all homes open as at 31 August 2020. Of these 171 homes, 12 had resigned and 11 were suspended on 31 August 2020.

All full inspections of social care providers were suspended in March 2020. As monitoring visits of children’s homes do not lead to inspection judgements, the overall effectiveness grades have not changed since the publication of Children’s social care data in England 2020. At both dates, 80% of children’s homes were judged good or outstanding.

Secure children’s homes have the lowest proportion of good or outstanding homes (69%) and the highest proportion of homes judged requires improvement to be good (31%).

Main findings: local authority and children’s homes in England inspections and outcomes autumn 2020

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