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Regulation 5 - Engaging with the wider System to ensure each Child's Needs are met

5. In meeting the quality standards, the registered person must, and must ensure that staff:

  1. Seek to involve each child's placing authority effectively in the child's care, in accordance with the child's relevant plans;
  2. Seek to secure the input and services required to meet each child's needs;
  3. If the registered person considers, or staff consider, a placing authority’s or a relevant person's performance or response to be inadequate in relation to their role, challenge the placing authority or the relevant person to seek to ensure that each child’s needs are met in accordance with the child's relevant plans; and
  4. Seek to develop and maintain effective professional relationships with such persons, bodies or organisations as the registered person considers appropriate having regard to the range of needs of children for whom it is intended that the children's home is to provide care and accommodation.

Relevant plans are defined in the interpretation section of the Regulations (regulation 2) as: any placement plan; any care plan; any statement of special educational needs; any education, health and care plan ("EHC plan")[1]; and where the child is a youth justice child any detention placement plan, or any other plan prepared by that child’s placing authority in relation to the remand or sentencing of that child. 'Relevant' thus has a meaning here that is distinct from the normal meaning of that word. If a child has any of the above plans, they will fall within the meaning of 'relevant plans', but a child may not have all of the plans defined as 'relevant' (for example, there will be children living in children's homes who do not have an EHC plan). Similarly, a child may have a plan that the Regulations define as 'relevant', but may have no impact on the issue the provider is considering at that point in time, and providers should not feel obliged to make a plan apply where it does not. The essential point is that a child’s plans should form the basis of their care, and providers should use their judgement as to what is relevant in each case, taking the plans listed in the definition in the Regulations as a starting point rather than a complete list or a tick-box exercise.

'Relevant Persons'

Any person, body or organisation who the registered person considers to be relevant in relation to the care, protection or safeguarding of a particular child living in the home in all the circumstances.

‘Seek to’

These words have their ordinary dictionary meaning, which is ‘try to’.

[1] In some cases the child’s special education needs statement (SEN) will be a relevant plan, until such time as it is reviewed (the latest date being 2018) and replaced with an EHC plan.

Regulation 5 sets out overarching requirements that run across all of the Quality Standards. To meet the aspirations embodied in the Quality Standards, children’s homes need to connect with and be part of the wider support system for each child in their care. No children’s home will be able to meet, on its own, all of a child’s needs. It is crucial that the home works in close partnership with all those who play a role in protecting and caring for the child, but particularly the child’s local authority and statutory social worker. The registered person and the staff of the home cannot force a relevant person to engage or work productively with them and the regulation does not require this. The registered person should evidence what they have done to achieve engagement, including any actions taken to escalate concerns.

The home should play a full part in promoting the best interests of the child, proactively advocating for the child to ensure that others play their role and deliver the high quality support that is needed.  Such partnership working should always take place: before a child arrives; while the child lives in the home and where the child prepares to return home, move to another setting or leave care. Where a placement is made in an emergency, the registered person should quickly engage with relevant persons to provide the best immediate care.

Regulation 5(a) requires the registered person to’ seek to involve’ the placing authority that places a looked-after child in the home, which in practice means working primarily with their statutory social worker. [4] The requirement to work with social workers and other relevant people is repeated at other places in the Regulations and Guide, but in this instance the duplication is a justifiable reinforcement in light of the crucial importance of a strong working relationship between the home and the authority with parental responsibility for a child placed there. Not all children in homes are looked-after– for these children too, a close working relationship is essential with those with parental responsibility for them, usually their parents or other carers.

There will also be cases where a home needs to engage with more than one local authority. For example, where a looked-after child is placed in a home in a different local authority area, or a child accesses education or other provision in a different area to that of the home.

Beyond local authorities, there are other people, bodies and organisations that have responsibilities towards children in children’s homes. Many of these are referenced specifically in the Regulations and Guide. They might include health and education services, Local Safeguarding Children Boards, leaving care services, IROs, voluntary agencies, the police and youth offending teams. This list is not exhaustive. The important thing is that homes take the initiative in identifying others who must play a part for their children and engage with those relevant people proactively, advocating for the children in their care.

Where the placing authority or another relevant person does not provide the input and services needed to meet a child’s needs during their time in the home or in preparation for leaving the home, the home must challenge them to meet the child's needs (see regulations 5(c)). Staff should act as champions for their children, expecting nothing less than a good parent would. The registered person should consider the use of an independent advocate (see The Children's Views, Wishes and Feelings Standard, Independent advocacy and children's rights) if the child’s needs are not being met.

[4] Section 23ZA Children Act 1989 and Part 5 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

Where children are sentenced to custody and placed in a secure children's home, or remanded and placed in either a secure children's home or open children's home, the home should ensure that they seek to establish effective working relationships with the Youth Justice Board and relevant youth offending teams, as well as each child's parents/carers or other relevant persons.

Secure children's homes should pay particular regard to children living in secure accommodation that may have moved further from home and may be at a greater risk of disconnection with those involved in their care. It is important that these children should be supported to understand who the relevant persons involved in their care are, and what each relevant person's role is in their care.

Regulation 5(b) does not apply to short break settings. Children are commonly only in these settings for short periods of time and their placing authority (usually their parents/carers) remains responsible for their wider care. However, short break settings should seek to build relationships with others involved in the child’s care in so far as this is appropriate in relation to their role within the wider system for the child.

Last Updated: February 9, 2022