£140m charity forced to close children’s home over ‘widespread failures’

Charity

A major charity has apologised after one of its children’s homes was shut down by regulators.

Action for Children said it was “deeply sorry” and admitted that services at the home had “not met our usual high standards”.

Ofsted suspended services at the home after an inspection in March found it was “inadequate”.

The charity said it was working with the regulator to reopen the service “as soon as possible”.

The home has not been named. 

The Ofsted report, published today, said: “There are serious and/or widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and/or the care and experiences of children and young people are poor and they are not making progress.”

It found: “Staff spoken to by the inspector did not know how to report safeguarding concerns appropriately.

“There has been minimal action by managers and leaders to ensure that staff understand good safeguarding practice.”

Inspectors also raised concerns that injuries to children at the home “have not been recorded or reported appropriately”.

The report also said: “Leaders and managers failed to notify Ofsted of an incident that involved a serious allegation. 

“This was not reported to relevant external agencies. Senior leaders were unable to provide evidence that any action had been taken. Failure to report such concerns prevents external scrutiny and oversight to ensure that children are safe.”

Action for Children stressed that an independent investigation into the allegations, commissioned by the charity, “found no evidence of safeguarding or child protection concerns”.

Action for Children runs 11 children’s homes, according to the most recent data, and raised more than £140m last year, making it one of the country’s largest charities by annual income.

An Action for Children spokesperson said: “As a charity supporting more than half a million children, young people and families in the UK, we strive to deliver the best care to all those we support. We are deeply sorry this service has not met our usual high standards.” 

They pointed out that Ofsted had rated the same home as “good” just over a year ago, adding: “Our absolute priority is to keep children safe. We are taking the findings extremely seriously, working immediately to address the issues with a comprehensive Ofsted action plan. 

“We now have new management in place to implement that plan and staff at the service have undergone further safeguarding training. We are now reviewing the learning to share across our organisation for best practice.”

Action for Children said it challenged some of Ofsted’s findings “which we think were inaccurate”.

They said: “We are working closely with the local authority, where we have two other services rated as ‘good’ and want to build further communication and constructive engagement with the regulator. 

“We are taking all steps necessary to resolve the issues so we can reopen the service as soon as possible for the families and children who need it.”

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