I have a property that is empty and I am thinking of setting up a children’s Home – how do I do it?
We have had a number of enquiries in this regard. In the main they have been small property developers that have purchased and upgraded properties with a view to selling on and have then been unable to do so in the current financial climate; therefore are looking for an alternative use for those properties. A second area of enquiry has been from people working in the local authority sector, being somewhat disgruntled with the provision within the local authority and feeling they would be able to do a better job by setting up on their own. This answer is geared more for those "property developers" who have little or no experience in childcare. You are advised to refer to the OFSTED website: Ofsted: Children's social care registration - Introduction to children's homes 12 April 2012 – Ofsted A guide explaining in more detail what the law says anyone intending to open a children’s home must do to in order to apply for registration. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/childrens-social-care-registration-introduction-childrens-homes and consult carefully the regulations as they pertain to the running of children's homes. The sector is highly regulated and you will need to be aware of the need to employ staff experienced in childcare and not least a Registered Manager who meets OFSTED requirements. The lead-in time to establishing a children's home is not insignificant and you will be faced with significant setup costs not only in terms of the property but in terms of recruitment of staff, training, establishing written procedures etc etc. ICHA would caution anyone who is not experienced in residential childcare and is not up to speed with current market conditions against setting up a children's home in these current difficult trading times or at least ensure that you have researched the need in your proposed geographic location very carefully. Be aware that many local authorities operate an approved provider list many of which are accessed through a tender exercise and it may be that you will have to wait until the approved list is re-tendered until you can tender to be on that approved supplier listing.
I have a bad inspection report from Ofsted - what do I do and will ICHA help me deal with this issue?
If you are a member then ICHA can arrange for an experienced member to talk you through what actions you can take and will offer you observations based on your report. As an organization we have, in general, enjoyed a positive relationship with Ofsted and are able to ask specific questions on our member’s behalf. Our experience is that OFSTED reports can vary from inspector to inspector and region to region but where non-members have contacted us the criticism of the provider has in the main been valid and a more experienced provider would not have attracted the criticism/observation from the OFSTED inspection. ICHA cannot assist non-members in considering aspects of the bad/poor OFSTED report. Members and non-members are advised to consult the OFSTED website which does advise on the appeal process.
I’m looking for someone to do Regulation 44 reports – can you assist?
If you e-mail the ICHA office we will place your request in the weekly bulletin that is sent to all members and it may be that one of our members will contact you directly with suggestions. This is open to both members and non-members. The ICHA office does hold some details of professionals available to do such reports and if they are relevant to your geographic area these details will be forwarded to you. ICHA does not recommend any of these contacts in terms of the quality of their work and it is for you to ascertain their level of competence!
We need staff training – where can I get this training?
If you e-mail the ICHA office we will place your request in the weekly bulletin that is sent to all members and it may be that one of our members will contact you directly with suggestions. This is open to both members and non-members. ICHA does not recommend any of these contacts in terms of the quality of their work and it is for you to ascertain their level of competence!
Insurance – our insurance quote has increased significantly – any thoughts?
ICHA has negotiated preferential deals with certain insurance companies. These preferential deals are only open to members. Members are informed as to contact details through the members’ area of the website in addition to the members’ weekly bulletin.
A young person is being removed on financial grounds – what can we do?
In this current financial climate such actions are sadly not rare. There are a number of examples of such actions been undertaken without convening a LAC review and where significant professionals believe this is contrary to the young person's best interests. The Children's Minister, ROGER MORGAN, the Children's Rights Director for England (correct as at March 2012) has indicated that he will intervene in such circumstances and he can be approached directly. It is the case that a young person can complain to the local authority at any proposed such action but ICHA is aware of a number of cases where this process would seem to have failed the young person. If you are a member we will put you in touch with an experienced member within ICHA who may be able to advise you on possible courses of action that you can take; or you are welcome to attend a General or Committee meeting and seek advice from those experienced professionals attending.
Referrals are declining – are other providers finding same – any suggestions?
In summary, all providers are experiencing a reduction in referrals despite the number of childcare orders being on the increase (true as at March 2012). Experience would suggest that those referrals that are made relate to young people with significantly increased needs relative to those that were referred in previous years. It is also the case that many young people that would have been referred to residential care are now being referred to fostering agencies and this is a cause of concern to the ICHA since there is great deal of evidence that many referrals made are inappropriate to a foster placement, and often result in multiple failed placements. ICHA is unable to advise non-members further in this regard but on behalf of the membership are continually raising these concerns with certain local authorities and key people in central government.
Are there any providers that are willing to share procedures or is this available on the ICHA website?
Certain members do share procedures but there is no formalized process for doing this. If you are a member you can make this request through the ICHA office who will place your request either on the website or in the weekly bulletin. We are not able to assist non-members in this regard.
What benefits would I get by joining the ICHA?
ICHA is a trade association representing independent providers of residential children’s homes in England & Wales. We are actively involved in promoting the needs of the sector and the children and young people who benefit from our services, by: • Being the largest representative body of children’s homes providers in the UK with 80% of all private & voluntary beds and over 50% of Homes in the country; 179 member organisations, 1064 children’s homes and more than 3965 beds in total (at 1st March 2016). • Meeting with Ministers and Government officials. • Political lobbying so that the voice of the sector is heard. • Being represented on National and Regional bodies, including: a) D.F.E. b) C.R.B. c) C.W.D.C. (to 1st August 2012) d) C.R.N. e) Welsh Assembly f) Local Authority Consortia Groups g) Ofsted We are member led and run on democratic lines – 1 member: 1 vote. We have a committee of 17, nominated by members. Each committee member takes a lead on certain issues – e.g. web-site, annual conference, membership, children’s rights, political activity, press and publicity. We also have Sub-Committees for Research & Development, Contracts and Commissioning and Finance. We hold General Meetings, usually in the Midlands for ease of access, where members can ‘network’ and share quality practice and discuss issues; and to which we regularly invite relevant speakers such as representatives from Ofsted, Children’s rights etc. We produce a Weekly E-Bulletin informing members of developments in the sector, relevant items in the press, training events and other associated topics. We hold a conference each year and/or we speak at other national conferences and events. We manage our own web-site – where our members are listed individually. We produce an annual Commissioners Handbook that we disseminate to Commissioners. Each ICHA member has a page within the book to describe the services they offer. We have office staff that are available to assist members whenever they can. We employ Jonathan Stanley, residential child care expert and formally of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care who joined ICHA in July 2011 as consultant for policy and practice. For more information about ICHA, or to join, contact us as follows: Email: email@example.com www.icha.org.uk
ICHA weekly bulletin – can I request to receive? – I am not an ICHA member.
No, the weekly ICHA E-Bulletin is for members only. We use it to inform members of developments in the practice, updates in policy & practice, relevant items in the press, training events and other associated topics.
Does ICHA operate any regional groups?
ICHA has explored this in the past but is not currently running regional groups with the exception of WICHA which is, if you will, a regional group albeit that the region is the whole of Wales! ICHA does periodically convene regional meetings at the request of members where there is a particular issue(s) in that region. Where appropriate, non-members may be invited to these meetings.
A local authority is in our view practicing dangerously with a child we are looking after – advice please?
By enlarge ICHA assumes that members should be aware of actions that they can take. That said we do appreciate that it is helpful in many such situations to seek advice from an experienced member who may have other observations that are helpful – in other words it's always good to talk! Where a member has such concerns they should contact the ICHA office and we will endeavor to put you in touch with an experienced member in such matters. We are unable to assist non-members in this regard but would advise the obvious – in other words the child's interests are paramount and it is important that there needs are met at the expense of any business relationship that you may have with the local authority concerned!
We are not a member – would we be able to attend a meeting to see what you are about?
Absolutely! Please contact the ICHA office and they will arrange for you to attend. Please do note that if there is a confidential matter that is being discussed you may, as a non-member, be asked to leave the meeting whilst that item is under discussion. That said that is a very rare event!
How can I get a comparison of residential fees? – I want to see if our fees are competitive.
Essentially you can't. One advantage of being an ICHA member is that the networking that is afforded does allow members to exchange such information on an informal basis. There are no published figures on this to our knowledge and equally one has to be careful in interpreting such figures. For example some of our members will charge a fixed fee but that will include their therapeutic services in the fee – therefore it is essential to look at the services that are provided – a criticism that ICHA has of a number of commissioners. Local authorities do have to publish amounts of over £500 that are paid out but again these figures are by and large unhelpful without knowing the needs of the young person concerned etc. There is nothing to stop you asking a local authority for fees paid but again without the underlying information the figures are unhelpful and the local authority may decline to release such information on the grounds they are commercially sensitive. If you were to make a freedom of information request a local authority can again decline to release such figures on the grounds they are commercially sensitive. If anyone comes across any such figures and underlying information that is helpful the ICHA would be happy to circulate to all members.
I am thinking of joining ICHA – what is the process and what fees will I incur?
If you are thinking of joining ICHA you will need to contact the ICHA office, by e-mail for an application pack firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an initial one off administration fee of £75 and then your annual membership fee will be assessed on the number of beds you have. Currently (April 2015) the membership fee is £1.313p per bed per week with a minimum of £350.50 and a maximum of £6,060. So, 8 beds, say, would cost 8 x £1.3135 x 52 = £546.41 per annum. It is worth remembering that included as part of this fee is your entitlement to a page in the ICHA Commissioners Handbook, produced annually which goes to Commissioners in Local Authorities in England and Wales. We know that a number of Commissioners do consult the Handbook when looking for placements, particularly so when they are unable to find a suitable placement through their usual day to day commissioning practices.