In its welcoming the Ofsted report ‘Why do children go into children’s homes?’ in which the regulator calls for an audit of needs NCERCC explains the necessary ‘granularity ‘of data that in their view will be needed.
NCERCC asks the question, ‘ To what degree can it be claimed that we ensure the right place, at the right time, for the right child? Is this by design, as would be the case if Sufficiency was defined as specificity? If it is not uniformly the case, then by how many degrees are we off-task through acting in a system that is anti-task?’
Directly addressing government NCERCC calls for the Sufficiency Duty to be given new interpretation as ‘Specificity,’ with a focus on needs rather than numbers. They write ‘it is apparent that the current wording, definition, and possibilities of interpretation do not directly lead to a granularity of needs being at the centre of thinking, planning, strategy, and review. Either the lack of specificity/granularity is intentional, or it requires urgent attention to the Sufficiency Duty. Specificity needs to replace Sufficiency.
NCERCC explains there is no need for new legislation seeing the new interpretation following previous such moves by the DfE and Ofsted.
NCERCC link this granular data and specificity to a new approach to children’s commissioning and the design of a strategy that will deliver the type of homes needed.
NCERCC calls for DfE to be resolute if a needs audit concludes that more children would be better and more successfully placed in residential settings, and or that there is an evidenced need for more residential settings, and or there is a requirement for a wider range of specialism in children’s homes to meet children’s distinct, assessed needs.
The Ofsted report promised further research on this matter and NCERCC see it important that the focus is widened to include fostering and unregulated settings. For the ‘fullest population and granularity of data.’ Ofsted note that they found there were children in a children’s home because there were no fostering placements available. In NCERCC’s view a follow-on enquiry should ascertain if there are children in fostering whose needs would be better met in a residential setting. NCERCC seeing unregulated settings as residential care see that these children must be included.
The purpose of the call by NCERCC is to counter the situation that ‘by not placing ‘the right child in the right place, at the right time’ the false economy both in the childhood and life-time costs of failing to meet children’s assessed needs is observed.’
Empathetic with decision makers NCERCC sees the need for, ‘Understanding the organisational culture of children’s commissioning is to see the gap between what the guidance says and what actually happens. We need commissioning to be a child-centred parenting and child care practice to counter current placement making overload approaches. We need commissioning that is child-centred, resilient, reflective, supportive, as part of a relational culture and practice that could integrate providers and commissioners, supply and demand.’
Jonathan Stanley, Principal partner for NCERCC, said ‘Our purpose is to show the appreciation needed is of the unfolding nature of responding to need and placement making Ofsted are providing an insight into the complexity of high-level needs. The report is a welcome start to the development of the sophistication that is needed.’