Secure Children’s Homes provide specialist care in a secure environment for some of the most vulnerable young children in England to protect them, and others around them from harm, including girls at risk of child sexual exploitation.
In light of the growing demand for placements of children considered vulnerable, it is important that the system of provision sufficiently meets the changing needs of children that need to be placed in a secure setting.
The Department for Education is conducting a review of Secure Children’s Homes to examine the current and likely future need of places and what changes, improvements or new forms of provision may be required to ensure those needs are met. We have also announced steps to improve practice, such as better data collection on children who go missing.
Through the Innovation Programme we have also invited proposals for new ways of supporting vulnerable adolescents, including a number of bids that seek to prevent Child Sexual Exploitation.
The Department has recently consulted on changes to children’s homes regulations to introduce new Quality Standards. This includes a specific standard setting out that children are to be protected from harm and enabled to keep themselves safe.
We are also undertaking wider reforms to social work practice, including the development of new assessment and accreditation system which will provide a practice based career pathway for children’s social workers in England, announced by the Secretary of State at the recent NCAS conference and an expansion of schemes like Frontline – which will improve the quality of social work.