skip to Main Content
Looking to read the latest articles? Please click here
Was Anyone Expecting ‘Care’ To Be Removed From The Lexicon Of Children’s Services? If You Didn’t Think It Could Happen Read On …

Was anyone expecting ‘Care’ to be removed from the lexicon of children’s services? If you didn’t think it could happen read on …

In the discussions over the Care Review or Supported Accommodation for Care as a concept to be removed from the lexicon of children’s services. But this is what has happened.

In the NCERCC response to the Care Review we wondered about how ‘relationships’ would be used to remodel children’s services. The removal of ‘Care’ is where it has led to.

Here’s some evidence

Introduction to children’s homes: a children’s social care guide to registration (April 2018)

Appendix A sets out the difference between Care and Support.

Introduction to children’s homes (Updated April 2023)

Introduction to children’s homes – GOV.UK (

No Appendix A.

Care has been removed.

In the consultations regarding Supported Accommodation NCERCC provided a lengthy analysis of Care with references to research and theory.

You can find both on the NCERCC website

Evidentially there is a definition of Care that exists in relation to Children in Care.

It was said recently that there is no definition of ‘care’ in the legislation.  That will send people researching and we await their results.

If it is the case we have operated on the basis of the definition of Care being integral to all we do, that we now find it may have been left implicit and to be understood tacitly can lead us to think this is loophole that is being exploited.

If it is found there is no definition then what have we been doing for decades?

Questions start to tumble (with no expectation they will be answered)

  • What does ‘best possible care’ as in the early pages of the Guide to the Quality Standards mean?
  • What is a Care Plan?
  • What will become of Care Orders?
  • What is the basis of the Care Standards Act?
  • Is Children’s Social Care to become Children’s Social Support?
  • Does the Quality and Purpose of Care standard and Regulation 6 have no objective reference? Presumably it must do if inspectors are to grade Outstanding, Good, Requiring improvement to be Good, Inadequate? Ofsted inspections have an evidence base to inspector judgement and they are overseen by their management. Presumably they are using a measure, a concept, there are thresholds from one level to another?

Care appears 142 times in the Quality Standards and Guide for children’s homes. These then stand to be substantially rewritten. And in recent days we have heard people speaking of rewriting legislation, regulations and inspection frameworks. For example, ADCS in their position paper Regional Care Cooperatives (another reference to ‘Care’ here) – pre-requisites for success ADCS_RCC_pre-requisties_for_success.pdf give as a prerequisite, “ There must be a regulatory review and reform as a result. The Children’s Home Regulations are out of date and no longer fit for purpose, they hinder delivery of flexible, suitable provision”.

The current prevailing policy view was explained at a recent conference, “Young people’s needs cannot always be easily categorised under either ‘care’ or ‘support’ – these are part of a complex continuum” and “High-quality supported accommodation should be caring, kind and nurturing.” The speaker expanded in the discussion that followed ‘… one day a child may need support but things happen and at other times they may need care”[1]. Having concepts and definitions tying settings to delivering one or the other was presented as an obstacle to a child accessing what they need.

This could be a good position from which to argue the case.

However, it doesn’t take much to unravel.

A child can have support in a care environment, they don’t need to go to another for support (setting aside the idea that you cannot provide support without care – what is support without care?). They can be supported by the people who care for them. This is good practice according to the research evidence. Arguably unless one has cared for a child it will be difficult if not impossible to understand and provide what support they need. So going to a setting where you can have support and sometimes care from new people is not good practice. It also diminishes the important input of positive role modelling by children who have achieved a resilience from those who are in the process of achieving it. Resilience is absorbed from the environment it is not given, children with resilience as role models are important.

On this basis the argument for Supported Accommodation to be a Schedule of the Children’s Homes Regulations and for the Quality Standards applies strongly.

Settings that are soon to be registered as ‘support’ will not comply with the Children’s Homes Regulations or Quality Standards with regard to qualifications and experience of managers, qualifications, knowledge and training of staff

To be technical for a moment to consider Care in a performative framework for evaluation. If we see Care only as performative we fail to see the specificity and interrelation of needs of children. We can fail to validate implicit and important aspects of Care such as ‘belonging’. Care as a concept implies care ethics and practices beyond the performative. How you do, what you do matters. It is what makes Care – and Relationships. It is what you do and the way that you do it that is integrated into the Regulations, Quality Standards and particularly the Guide to Quality Standards, that was the whole purpose of the Guide to describe those important things regulations and standards could not.

A while ago in Westminster there was a discussion about actions that were ‘defensible’. This received sharp correction, actions should be ‘justifiable.’

The loss of Care requires we have that discussion again. What now is defensible and justifiable if there is no definition, no reference. There is no objective Care that provides consensus between, say, a provider and an inspector, power is shared in a relationship. If all is subjective then the interpretation is to be determined by the person with the greatest power.

The loss of Care is not just a rewrite of legislation and guidance. It acts to rewrite the theory and practice of care. Foundational to Residential Child Care practice is Structure and Culture.  Subjective interpretation sweeps away this foundation. We become structureless.

Is this the intention behind the call for ‘regulatory review and reform’? Is this what ‘flexible, suitable provision’ means?

The concept of liquid modernity was coined by the sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman as a metaphor to describe the condition of constant mobility and change he sees in relationships, identities, and global economics within contemporary society. Bauman visualised a transition from a solid modernity to a more liquid form of social life (i.e., “unable to keep any shape or any course for long…” and “…prone to change…”

As the speaker said at the conference, ‘There is no plan … We will be finding out as we do it.’

[1] We may not be reporting exactly what was said currently as we were shocked and though we brought ourselves back quickly some words may have been missed or we made a sense of what we think we heard – we have checked with others and they substantiate our recollections. We are happy to correct the record if we receive further advice from the speakers.