Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): adoption support agencies

Guidance on how Ofsted inspects adoption support agencies.

Applies to England



Our first principle of inspection is to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives. The SCCIF is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ framework. The evaluation criteria are broadly consistent across the different types of children’s social care services but they reflect the unique nature of each type of service.

The SCCIF means that:

  • we apply the same judgement structure across the range of settings
  • the experiences and progress of children and other service users, wherever they live or receive help, are central to inspections
  • there are key areas of evidence that we usually report on at each inspection

Our approach is further underpinned by the following 3 principles that apply to all social care inspections:

  • to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives
  • to be consistent in our expectations of providers
  • to prioritise our work where improvement is needed most
Published 22 February 2017
Last updated 8 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Minor amends to the guidance on case tracking to make it consistent with the independent fostering agencies and voluntary adoption agencies SCCIF guidance. Guidance added to the ‘Inadequate judgements: next steps’ section on feeding back to local authorities.

  2. Minor changes to the evaluation criteria to align, where applicable, with other framework changes on children’s progress, the management of risk and the need to appoint a registered manager, if the post is vacant, within 26 weeks. Small change to guidance for inspectors on recording evidence in the inspection database.

  3. Minor edits for clarity in the 'Timeframe' and 'Monitoring visit' sections. Revised text referencing the updated 'Ofsted code of conduct' policy.

  4. Added updated SCCIF for April 2022: added guidance for when inspectors discover possible unregistered provision.

  5. Updated guidance on the scheduling of inspections of agencies previously judged inadequate or requires improvement to be good, to make this consistent with our guidance on all adoption and fostering agency inspections.

  6. Added guidance on inspecting adoption support agencies during COVID-19 restrictions. Updated guidance to reflect the changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling (including the timeline) that we introduced in September 2020. Updates to the 'Frequency of inspection' section to include a rolling 3-year inspection programme. Minor edits for readability.

  7. First published.