Ofsted are set to start accepting applications for registration from 28 April 2023, for those providing supporting living to children in care and care leavers aged 16 to 17.
We have set out below some of the key points to consider in readiness for making your application.
Check who needs to register.
This may sound like an obvious point, but the arrangements for providing supported living are often more complex than other types of social care provision, and involve input from various organisations. Some thought should be given as to who, or what, organisation needs to register with Ofsted.
The Department for Education’s guidance sets out that one person (including an organisation) must take on the role of registered provider. The accountability to meet standards and regulations will usually lie with the person/organisation leading on the provision of the overall support package. However, if additional support is commissioned from other organisations, the Provider will still be responsible for ensuring the regulatory requirements are met.
Ensure that the registered person, registered service manager and/or leaders within your organisations are familiar with the Department for Education’s ‘Guide to the Supported Accommodation Regulations including Quality Standards’.
This will be your organisation’s ‘go-to’ guide and framework for operating the service within the regulatory sphere. It will be the basis on which Ofsted conducts its assessment of your application for registration, as well as future inspections once registered. The understanding and implementation of these regulations and standards are therefore fundamental to your organisation’s success, and the support you provide to young people.
Check which ‘category’ or ‘categories’ you are applying to operate support accommodation under.
There are four categories of supported living that applications can be made under:
- Supported accommodation in a self-contained unit, where the accommodation is for the sole use of the child
- Supported accommodation in a shared or group living situation in premises used to accommodate only looked after children and care leavers
- Supported accommodation in a shared or group living situation in premises which are not limited to accommodating looked after children or care leavers
- Supported accommodation provided by an individual or individuals in a private residence which is the main residence of that individual or those individual
You must operate only within the category or categories stated on the registration. If you intend to change category at a later date, you will need to apply to Ofsted to vary the conditions of registration.
Seek independent advice and support.
If you are unsure whether you are required to register, under what category you should register or about compliance with the regulations, seek independent advice before making your application to avoid any delays and to avoid your application being rejected.
An independent review and/or audit of your service in anticipation of making your application for registration can provide you with some helpful insight and may pick up on issues that can be addressed before they are picked up by Ofsted during the registration process.
If a complete application for registration with Ofsted has not been made before 28 October 2023, it will be a criminal offence to carry on or manage a supported accommodation service on or after this date.
Whilst there is likely to be a period of grace, the regulation of supported living accommodation has been high on Ofsted’s agenda for a number of years and there is clearly political support for ensuring these changes are effective. It is therefore likely that Ofsted will have an appetite, as well as the resources, to pursue prosecutions after this date, of any organisations operating without registration.
If you need advice on registration requirements, compliance or meeting the regulations, we offer specialist regulatory advice to Providers seeking registration with Ofsted. Please contact our specialists on 0161 8271808.