Media Release ICHA Response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Report (10 Mar 22)

 

Media Release

ICHA Response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Report

10th March 2022

The following is ICHA’s initial response to the CMA report.  We will be reviewing the report in detail and providing a more thorough response following further reflection.

ICHA support the findings from the report and welcome the insights that it provides. The findings of the report make clear how the children's social care sector, including children’s homes, must improve to be able to care for the most in need children and young people.  

ICHA recognise the need for improvement in areas identified by the CMA and are systematically addressing these with our members and through our work with Department for Education (DfE), Ofsted and local authorities.

The CMA report rightly highlighted that there are insufficient placements available in children’s homes, particularly for children with complex needs. However, it is critical that it is acknowledged that this issue is predominantly caused by insufficient workforce, not physical homes. 

Whilst recent funding initiatives enabling local authorities to access capital for new children’s homes are welcome, without appropriately qualified and experienced staff to work in these homes, the problem will remain. Further, there is a risk that local authorities will be under pressure to staff these new homes with candidates who do not have the necessary qualifications and experience to meet the needs of children and young people.  This will put children and young people at risk.

As the membership body for children’s homes in England and Wales, we are acutely aware of the need for improvement in areas of the sector, and are taking action to address these. Our actions include:

·         Undertaking a national workforce development program including, for the first time ever, a national recruitment campaign.

·         Establishing a national programme of training and development for all levels of staff working in children’s homes.

·         Identifying where regulation related to qualifications can be changed to improve the skills and competencies of the children’s homes workforce.

·         Working with Ofsted to identify how the introduction of portability for Registered Managers could work to expedite the opening of new homes.

A report also highlighted the necessity to improve our understanding of the needs of children and young people.  This will improve the ability to match the needs of the child to a suitable service, and it will improve the ability of local authorities to plan for future need.  To address this ICHA have been working with multiple stakeholders to introduce the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment to improve understanding of needs, local authority forecasting and sufficiency strategies. More information here: https://www.tcomengland.org/

We believe that the CMA rightly focused on commissioning and regulation as key areas impacting sufficiency, particularly in relation to the need for granular data to inform the development of new provision and improve providers’ confidence to accept children with complex needs.

We believe an opportunity to investigate the demand side of the market equation was missed. There are currently a record number of children in care. The most sensible strategy to reduce the expenditure on children in care is to reduce the number of children coming in to care. However, this will require significant investment in Social Work and a reversal of cuts to local authority budgets.

We are engaging with and have requested support from the DfE in our workstreams to improve the children’s homes sector. We hope DfE support will be agreed.

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

ABOUT ICHA

The Independent Children’s Homes Association Ltd (ICHA) www.icha.org.uk  is the voice of providers of residential child care services and resources across England and Wales. We are a Not-for-Profit Limited Company.

ICHA represents both large and small providers with membership drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors.  Some members have just one home whilst others have many homes across a wide geographic area.

WHAT WE DO

We provide knowledge, expert guidance, resources and day-to-day support to our members as we work together to deliver exemplary residential child care.

We work directly with local and national government, regulators and allied public services, consulting on policy and changes within the sector. We ensure that the voices of our members are heard, through consultations, government responses and liaison with the media.

We actively develop partnerships, collaborations and professional communities to share best practice - for the benefit of our members, the sector and all those cared for within it.

OUR VISION

Exemplary residential child care
OUR MISSION

Drive excellence in residential child care through innovation, collaboration and sector leadership.

 

 


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