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

22. Inspections where no children are living in the home

What happens if there are no children living in the home at the time of inspection.

If there are no children present at the first inspection after registration, an interim inspection is carried out. This focuses on whether the service continues to meet registration requirements. However, no judgement is given. The interim inspection report must be used and the following statement made in the report:

The home has not provided [accommodation] to [children and young people] since its registration on [insert date of registration]. This inspection focuses on whether the children’s home meets its statutory requirements in order to maintain its registration and is ready to accept placements. [Inspector to include any relevant text]

In these instances, Ofsted does not make a judgement about effectiveness. If the requirements of registration are not met, the inspector can raise requirements or recommendations.

Where a home has no children in placement at the time of the inspection but has accommodated since the last inspection and intends to admit children within the next 3 months, the inspector, in consultation with their manager, determines what the most appropriate type of inspection is. This is usually a full inspection. The inspection focuses on whether the registration requirements continue to be met, including appropriate management arrangements so that the home is suitable to accommodate children. The inspection also takes into account any changes the provider has made to improve the quality of the care provided.

If children have been accommodated since the last inspection, it may be possible to use information about their placements as evidence about the experiences and progress of children. Inspection activity can include talking to children who have recently left and the professionals who have worked with them.

Where a home does not have children living there, does not intend to take placements and plans to remain closed for some time, no inspection is undertaken and therefore no judgement is made. A condition that the home notifies Ofsted if it intends to accept a placement is imposed by sending a notice of proposal to the provider and then a notice of decision. The condition must be worded as follows:

[The home] must inform the Chief Inspector of their intention to accommodate children at the home at least 3 months before any child is accommodated.

The condition set out above must be in place in order for the home to be exempt from inspection.

Ofsted will not inspect the home for as long as the condition is in place. When the home wants to accept placements again, the condition should be removed following a visit to the provider to ensure the provider and premises remain fit for registration. Where the condition is removed between 1 April and 30 September in any year, Ofsted will carry out one inspection (usually a full inspection) before 31 March of the following year. Where the condition is removed between 1 October and 31 March, Ofsted will not inspect until the following inspection year (starting 1 April).

Where closed homes re-open, Ofsted will carry out 2 inspections in the following inspection year (the first of which should usually take place before the end of June of that year) – unless the home received or receives a full inspection in the inspection year it re-opened where it is judged outstanding or good. Here, only one inspection is required in the following inspection year.