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

28. Homes that accommodate young adults

Information about inspecting homes that accommodate young adults.

The Care Standards Act 2000 requires a children’s home to provide care and accommodation ‘wholly or mainly’ for children. This does not prevent a home from accommodating a young adult or adults, as long as it accommodates more children than adults. A child is defined as a person aged 17 or under.

Children living at a children’s home are often vulnerable and/or disabled. Therefore, it is not always right for them to leave the children’s home by their 18th birthday. It may be in their best interests to stay at the children’s home. The reasons for this may include where:

  • the young person’s moving-on placement has fallen through and the placing authority is seeking alternative arrangements
  • the young person is in education and wishes to finish their course
  • the young person wishes to remain with siblings who are also accommodated at the home
  • there is agreement, including the young person’s, that they are not yet ready to leave and a focused plan is in place to achieve this

Ofsted’s duty to inspect children’s homes, provided by section 31(3)(a) of the Care Standards Act 2000, remains in place even if the home only accommodates young adults at the time of the inspection. This does not apply to a volunteer, a member of staff or other person living at the children’s home.

The Children’s homes (England) regulations 2015 apply to children and young adults living at the home.

Inspectors can discuss the operation of the children’s home with any young adult residing at the home.

Inspectors should, wherever possible and appropriate, ask a young adult’s permission to view their records, unless their mental capacity means that informed consent is not possible.

Children’s homes are not required to carry out a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on young adult residents. However, homes must identify any potential impact on the children also living in the home.

Ofsted may take action or impose conditions to address any impact that young adults accommodated at a home are having on children living in the home.

Homes should have in place appropriate transition plans for every young adult living there to ensure that their move from the home is planned and that their stay in the children’s home is appropriate.

28.1 Guidelines for judging whether a home is meeting the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy

We apply the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy over a reasonable period of time, rather than on any given day. This is to take into account children’s homes’ individual circumstances and the needs and best interests of children and young adults.

In the majority of circumstances, we determine whether a home is ‘wholly or mainly’ for children over a 12-month period. This means that, for the majority of time in any 12-month period, a home must accommodate more children than young adults, even if at times it does not. We will accept any 12-month period for this definition. It is not restricted to calendar or academic years.

In some cases, we may extend this 12-month period to an 18-month period (after a young person has turned 18) when this covers a young person leaving school. This is to recognise that disabled young adults are entitled to receive secondary education up to the end of the June following their 19th birthday.

We expect all providers (regardless of whether they are using the flexibility in the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy or not) to identify the risk and impact of every young adult living at the home on any children at the home. We expect providers to take action to minimise the risks and the negative impact on children.

Every young person in the home must have a regularly updated and reviewed moving-on plan and care plan, including a transition plan if the young person will require support from adult social care. This is to ensure that homes use the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy in the best interests of young people and not as a way of circumventing the law or allowing young people to stay beyond a reasonable period of time.

28.2 Inspecting and enforcing the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy

Inspectors check whether homes are complying with the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy. They should clarify the home’s intentions, such as whether it wishes to remain as a children’s home or change to an adult care home.

If we believe that providers are not complying with the ‘wholly or mainly’ policy, we will consider what action to take. This may include taking enforcement action against the home for failing to comply with its statement of purpose or for failing to run the establishment as a children’s home. We may also impose bespoke conditions on its registration if our concern relates to the impact of young adults on children at the home.