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W3C Compliance

7.2.3 Residential Placements Contracts Monitoring


This chapter describes the responsibilities of the Access to Resource Team functions to ensure contract compliance and that the placement is meeting the needs of each child. The chapter highlights the methods by which the monitoring of the placement is undertaken – which is also an integral role of the child’s social worker, particularly around safeguarding and meeting the child’s needs.

This chapter was added to the manual in May 2017.


  1. Purpose
  2. Reports and Notifications
  3. Child’s Statutory Review
  4. Child’s Social Worker
  5. Site Visits
  6. Financial Record
  7. Placement Panel

1. Purpose

The Access to Resources Team (ART) is responsible for monitoring the contracts they make on behalf of Merton council with independent providers of residential placements in children’s homes and schools. The purposes of monitoring the contract are to:

  • Ensure that the provider is meeting the terms and conditions of the contract;
  • Ensure the quality of the service being supplied is of high quality in meeting the needs of the child;
  • Confirm the Placement achieves good value for money for the council; and
  • The placement meets in full, the requirements of the Children’s Homes Quality Standards and Regulations 2015 and of the Children Act 1989.

Monitoring by ART has the twofold purpose of ensuring contract compliance, and also that the placement service being provided remains appropriate to the needs of the child. Whilst contract and placement quality assurance is a separate process to the social care assessment of the child and to their care plan, it is essential to the care of the child entrusted to the provider, and ART staff and managers are social care professionals, making a significant contribution to the improved outcomes for the child, to the Care Plan for the child, and to the safeguarding of the child, in close working partnership with the child’s social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer.

Monitoring additionally provides the opportunity for shared learning across the social care workforce, and of raising expectations of providers. Nationally, the quality of children’s care is significantly improved and generally good, as noted in the 2016 report by Sir Martin Narey, Residential Care in England, but learning from the recent past (included in the Narey report) demonstrates that the close scrutiny of residential placements by placing social workers and their high expectations of them, must be sustained.

The means for monitoring are given below.

2. Reports and Notifications

Children’s homes are inspected annually by Ofsted with an additional interim unannounced visit. The reports of these inspections are scrutinised by ART. Ofsted will notify the Director of Children’s Services about any serious concern they have for the provider, and if the provider is judged to be unsatisfactory. In these circumstances the relevant Head of Service will convene a planning meeting to take appropriate action. In other circumstances, where Ofsted are reporting judgment outcomes that do not seriously impact the care of the child, but do raise issues for the regulatory compliance and performance of the provider, ART will notify the relevant Head of Service and liaise directly with the home to ascertain what immediate improvements they are making. The relevant Head of Service will arrange for a social work visit to the child and make a decision about the appropriateness of the provider’s response and the quality of care for the child. Safeguarding the child is the paramount concern, but where there are no significant safeguarding concerns, consideration will be given to the stability of the child’s placement and the continuity of care.

In addition to their Ofsted reports, ART will also receive from the provider their monthly Regulation 44 report. This is an independent report from an experienced and qualified person who will visit the home on a monthly basis to report on the performance, staffing, quality of care, and conditions of the home as outlined in the regulations. ART will scrutinise the monthly report to ensure that any issue requiring further enquiry is identified and they will follow this up with the provider, alerting the relevant Head of Service to the need for the enquiry and of the outcome of their enquiry.

The provider is also required to notify the council directly of actions required of them by Ofsted and are also required by Children’s Homes Regulations including Quality Standards (2015) Regulation 40 to notify the council of significant safeguarding and care events for the child, or of any child accommodated in the home, and these events include allegations against staff. See Notifications of Significant Events Procedure. ART will receive these notifications, although if urgent - as when a child is missing or self harms - it is usual for these to be notified directly to the child’s social worker for action - and copied to ART.

ART will ensure that the relevant Head of Service is notified and liaise with them to ensure that actions arising are coordinated and allocated appropriately between the teams.

3. Child’s Statutory Review

The child’s Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) undertakes the statutory review of the child’s placement and care plan within the required timescales. Unless for exceptional reasons, the review will be conducted in the children’s home and attended by the child, their social worker, their key worker in the home, parents, and other people involved with the child, including where possible from education and health. (See Looked After Reviews Procedure). The IRO should also meet with the child on their own outside of the review, usually as a separate visit to the child. The IRO must notify ART of any concern about the placement arising from the review of their visit to the child, and also communicate this to the relevant Head of Service for action. ART will liaise with the relevant Head of Service to ensure that actions arising are coordinated and allocated appropriately between the teams.

4. Child’s Social Worker

The child’s social worker will ensure that they see the child alone when they visit the child in placement and will speak to the staff to ascertain if there have been any concerns for the child or significant events since their last visit. The social worker should also ask for further information about any incident of physical restraint of the child or sanction imposed on the child; looking at the statutory records of these held by the home. If the social worker has any concerns for the placement, or for the care of the child provided by the home, of for the physical environment of the home, they will notify their manager and also notify ART. ART will liaise with the relevant manager and Head of Service to ensure that actions arising are coordinated and allocated appropriately between the teams.

5. Site Visits

ART will undertake at least one compliance visit to each home where a child is placed, the date and time of the compliance visit to be determined by the length of the child’s placement, or projected length of stay. This will be no less than an annual visit for a child remaining in placement for one year or beyond. The purpose of this visit to the provider is to ensure contract compliance. The visit will include:

  • Tour of the building and of the child’s room (with the child’s consent);
  • Checks of documents, including Statement of Purpose, ‘logs’ records and reports held on the child;
  • Staffing (numbers, qualifications, DBS);
  • Health & safety arrangements;
  • Safeguarding arrangements;
  • Facilities;
  • Food and meals;
  • Participation and engagement arrangements;
  • Education arrangements;
  • Health needs arrangements;
  • Life and independence skills training.

An unplanned visit may also take place if any concerns have been raised with ART as outlined in this procedure.

6. Financial Record

ART is responsible for ensuring that the council receives good value for money from the provider and monitors the weekly, monthly, annual, cumulative, and projected spend for each residential placement. ART will monitor any additional payments to the provider outside of the basic unit cost when these have been agreed for specified care and support needs for the child, and ensure that payments are ended to timescale. ART will report on spend to the Placements Panel so that it can exercise additional scrutiny. Quarterly spend is reported to the Departmental Management Team chaired by the Director.

7. Placement Panel

The Head of Service for ART attends the Placement Panel which closely monitors the child’s progress and care plan if they are placed in a children’s home. This meeting is chaired by the Head of Service for LAC. The Head of Service for ART will ensure that the Panel is aware of all the gathered information about the placement as outlined in this procedure.