Introduction to children's homes

When and how to register with Ofsted if you want to open or manage a children's home or secure children's home.

Applies to England



This guide explains what a children’s home is and what you must do if you intend to open one.

You should also read our main guide to registration, which applies to all children’s social care services and our guidance on recruiting staff.

View Ofsted’s registration services and forms.

Updates to this page

Published 12 April 2012
Last updated 24 May 2024 + show all updates
  1. Removed the need for a financial reference, following a change in legislation.

  2. Updated the ‘Children’s homes that provide care and accommodation for adults’ section to include information about individual circumstances where it would be in the child’s best interest to live in a children’s home after their 18th birthday. We have also the updated the ‘Guidelines for judging if a home is meeting the ‘wholly or mainly’ definition’ section and added a new paragraph to the ‘Principles to apply where a young adult resides at a children’s home’ section.

  3. Clarification added to the location assessment about consulting with relevant local bodies and updated the unregistered section to clarify when we may undertake a criminal investigation. We have also removed guidance on indicators for supported accommodation that is now in our guidance for registering supported accommodation.

  4. Guidance on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children removed in the interim whilst the Home Office and Department for Education review current position.

  5. Clarified the section 'When you do not need to register' and removed guidance on unregulated establishments as this content is currently under review.

  6. Clarified our guidance about applications to manage more than one children’s home.

  7. Added link to guidance about applying to register a multi-building children's home.

  8. Clarified our guidance on one manager managing two homes.

  9. Revised guidance on applying to manage more than one children's home.

  10. Revised throughout for clarity.

  11. Minor updates to reflect a legislation change on exemptions from registration for 16 to 19 academies (p5), and to clarify existing guidance on unregulated and unregistered providers (p16).

  12. Updated this guidance to clarify that we do not register satellite children’s homes.

  13. Updated to make it clear when unregulated and unregistered services should register.

  14. Updated to bring in line with legislation changes in 2015.

  15. First published.

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