Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): children’s homes

Guidance on how Ofsted inspects children's homes.

Applies to England



This framework sets out Ofsted’s process for inspecting children’s homes.

Our approach is 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 5 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. This framework has been updated to clarify that, when applying the framework, inspectors will take appropriate action to comply with Ofsted’s Equality Act duties, clarification on the opportunities for providers to discuss and/or provide information on potential equalities duties, including reasonable adjustments for individuals, clarification regarding Ofsted’s updated arrangements for publishing the report, quality assurance and handling concerns and complaints in line with Ofsted’s new complaints process in the timeframe sections, references to Ofsted’s pausing process, minor revisions to the evaluation criteria re children’s health needs, clarification on Regulation 45 reports, updated ‘Inspections where no children are living at home’ section and updated section on reporting concerns about the administration and management of controlled drugs.

  2. Additional guidance on deferring an inspection, inspector conduct during inspections, when and how the provider can raise issues, concerns or complaints during and after the inspection, supporting the well-being of the provider’s managers and staff during inspections and visits, attendance at keeping in touch meetings, discussions with staff and feedback meetings and who the provider may share provisional and final inspection outcomes with.

  3. Clarification on the focus of assurance inspections in the 'Assurance inspection findings’ section.

  4. Minor changes to the evaluation criteria to align, where applicable, with other framework changes on children’s progress and experiences, the management of risk, the use of restraint and the need to appoint a registered manager, if the post is vacant, within 26 weeks. Small changes to guidance for inspectors on recording evidence in the inspection database, including corrected Annex As. Clarification on the time inspectors spend on site for inspections of residential special schools which are also registered as children’s homes. Additional guidance for the inspector to inform the Children’s Commissioner when the inspection judgement is inadequate.

  5. Minor edits for clarity in the 'Frequency of inspections', 'Scheduling' and 'Monitoring visit' sections. Revised text referencing the updated 'Ofsted code of conduct' policy.

  6. Added inspection guidance for April 2022: replaced interim inspections with assurance inspections; clarified guidance on inspecting multi-building children’s homes; made minor amends to the evaluation criteria and added additional guidance for when inspectors discover possible unregistered provision.

  7. Updated the ‘Frequency of inspections’ section in response to the newly published Regulations which are effective from 1 October 2021. Also, in ‘The inspection report’ section, added clarification on the non-publication of child-friendly summary reports.

  8. Removed guidance on assurance visits, as we are no longer carrying these out.

  9. Updated guidance to reflect the changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling (including the timeline) that we introduced in September 2020. Reference added to the frequency of inspections being subject to consultation. Added guidance on inspecting children’s homes during COVID-19 restrictions. Minor edits for readability.

  10. First published.