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Agenda item

Overview and Scrutiny Review, Children's Residential Care Homes - Report of Councillor Heather Smith, Chair of Children and Young People's Overview and Scrutiny Committee


The Panel considered a report of Councillor Heather Smith, Chair of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee which provided information relating to the review of Private Children’s Residential Care Homes by the Children and Young People’s, and, the Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committees.  A copy of the review report was attached to the report at appendix 2 (for copy of report see file of minutes).


Councillor Smith explained the aim of the review which was to gain a better understanding of concerns associated with private children’s residential care homes and summarised the key findings, the response from the service, and, the recommendations. One of the review recommendations related specifically to the Corporate Parenting Panel which was that the Panel receive information from Durham Constabulary, for looked after children, with a focus on reports of missing from home.


In response to comments and questions from the Panel, Councillor Smith explained the following.


At the time of the review, there were 22 private children’s homes in County Durham providing approximately 90 beds. Evidence gathered suggested that information sharing between local authorities and residential care homes was inconsistent.  80% of children’s residential care homes are run by a variety of private providers including charities and private companies, and all have different procedures and policies in place.  The review also found that there is a greater demand on the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) from private children’s residential care homes.  The working group received information from Durham Constabulary indicating an increase in demand from children’s residential care homes and the group felt that this should be monitored.


Councillor Smith informed the Panel that, at present, there is no accreditation process for private children’s residential care homes, and, during the review, an accreditation process had been developed which was being piloted by three private children’s homes where looked after children from County Durham reside.


The Panel noted that private children’s residential care homes are subject to Ofsted inspections and Regulation 44 visits and they receive information on training courses provided by Durham Children’s Safeguarding Board, however, not all private homes engage.




a)    That the report be noted.

b)    That the Corporate Parenting Panel receive regular information relating to reported incidents to Durham Constabulary, for County Durham children looked after, who reside within any residential children’s care home within County Durham, with a specific focus on reports of missing from home.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714