What is a children’s home?

A children’s home is a residential facility providing accommodation, care, and support for children and young people who cannot live with their families. It offers a safe and nurturing environment where trained and qualified staff members, including social workers, caregivers and support workers, create a home that caters for children’s emotional, educational, and physical development.

The government, through OFSTED, regulates and supervises children’s homes to ensure the wellbeing and welfare of children who may have experienced abuse, neglect or other challenging circumstances in their family life.

Children’s homes provide essential services and support to the children and young people in their care.

These include:

  • Accommodation: Children’s homes offer a safe and secure place for children who cannot reside with their families.
  • Emotional support: Staff members in children’s homes provide emotional support to help children cope with past experiences and build positive relationships.
  • Education: Homes provide access to education to ensure vulnerable children are supported in their academic endeavours and equal opportunities are available for learning and development.
  • Health and wellbeing: Enabling to the delivery of proper medical care, including regular check-ups and access to necessary healthcare services.
  • Life skills training: Helping children to develop essential life skills such as cooking, personal hygiene, money management and decision-making, to prepare them for independent living.
  • Therapeutic interventions: Supporting children who have experienced trauma or have specific emotional or behavioural needs receive therapeutic interventions, counselling, and other specialized support.

Children enter children’s homes for various reasons, including:

Family breakdown: Providing temporary or long-term care for children whose families are experiencing challenges, such as parental illness, addiction, parental separation or domestic violence or other circumstances that would make it either unsafe or unfeasible for the child to remain at home.

Abuse or neglect: Children’s homes offer a protective environment for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other forms of maltreatment. At the same time, appropriate interventions are undertaken to address their wellbeing and safety.

Foster placement breakdown: In some cases, foster placements may not work out for various reasons, and children may require alternative care arrangements.

Behavioural difficulties: Children’s homes can provide the structure, guidance, and therapeutic services needed to support children with behavioural or emotional challenges.

Transition and rehabilitation: Children’s homes support young people transitioning from other care settings, such as foster care, back into a family environment or independent living.

Risk of going missing: For children who repeatedly go missing or are at risk of exploitation on the streets, children’s homes offer a stable and secure environment.

Unaccompanied minors: Children who arrive in the country as refugees or unaccompanied minors without family support may be placed in children’s homes until suitable arrangements for their care and immigration status are made.

The Independent Children’s Home Association has produced a series of short videos breaking down some of the misconceptions people may have about children’s homes and gives an insight into the experiences of young people who live in them.


Providers wanting to open a home in Sandwell

Prior to committing to opening a home in Sandwell providers are encouraged to speak with Sandwell Children’s Trust to understand the types of placement that are needed for Sandwell children. Sandwell Children’s Trust will be able to advise providers if there any specific issues in them opening a home in a particular location. Fo example, there is an increased risk of exploitation or there are other homes in close proximity.

Planning permission

Providers are encouraged to seek pre-application advice. It is a way of finding out whether the proposal is lawful development and does not need planning permission given the scale of the children’s home proposed. Advice will also indicate if you are likely to get planning permission before the submission of a formal planning application. It can reduce the time taken to determine your lawful development certificate or planning application and improve the quality of the application you submit. Additionally, although the pre-application advice should not be treated as certainty of getting planning permission, the process serves to discourage the submission of applications which are clearly inappropriate. This could potentially save you paying a costly planning fee for a proposal which may not get planning permission.

We would also encourage all proposed children’s home providers to have a robust management plan which includes staffing, waste disposal, parking, noise control and procedures for complaints.

Concerns about a children’s home

If you have an issue or concern about a children’s home, you should contact the service first. It’s usually the quickest option as it can address your concerns directly and most concerns can be resolved at this stage.

If your concern is not resolved, or you feel you did not receive an adequate response, you should follow the organisation’s complaints procedure.

Children’s homes are regulated and inspected by OFSTED. You should contact them if:

  • you are not satisfied with the response from the provider after you have followed its complaints procedure
  • you feel unable to contact the service concerned about this particular issue

It’s useful to make notes of any key people involved with dates and times.

Report a child at risk

If you are concerned about a child, report it. To raise a concern about a child please call 0121 569 3100.

If a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police (call 999).