External management of residential child care establishments: national guidance

Guidance for those with external management responsibilities for any residential child care establishment, including childrens homes, secure care and some residential schools.

Appendix 2

Key Inquiries and Reports

Key Inquiries & Reports Key messages for external managers
Another Kind of Home: A review of residential child care (Scottish Office, 1992) Commonly known as The Skinner Report. 'It is important that middle managers have a good understanding of the homes tasks and functions and that they have a clear responsibility to ensure a high quality of care in the homes for which they are responsible' (p.82). Good management of residential child care services should be based on effective strategic planning and a vision for residential child care. This strategic role for middle managers is emphasised while at the same time recommendations to increase the operational responsibilities of 'officers in charge' (Rec.63). Skinner concludes that the responsibility for affecting the required change and improvement to residential child care lies primarily with external managers.
'Choosing With Care' - The Warner Report - The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Selection, Development and Management of Staff in Children's Homes ( HMSO, 1992) This report was focussed on the selection, development and management of staff in children's homes. It considered grouping homes under a single manager and linking management of homes to fieldwork. The report recommended that employers, wherever possible, should ensure that the person to whom heads of homes report has experience of residential care (Rec.41). In discussion with residential child care staff the writers found that the respect for the external manager is diminished if they do not have residential experience (p.94). In the same report it was suggested that an induction for the external manager would help increase knowledge. Another issue identified was that of accountability and the importance of staff knowing who they were accountable to and who their manager was accountable to.
The Children's Safeguard Review (Kent, 1997). The Children's Safeguard Review (The Kent report) reported on the measures and arrangements for protecting children in out of home care across Scotland. The external manager is considered as one of the potential safeguards 'residential units benefit from having a line manager who knows the staff and the residents well, and is liked and trusted by them' (p.79). The report considered the role of 'external eyes' in providing safeguards for children in residential care suggesting the importance of independent visitors and advocates but also noting that not all "external eyes" should be independent of responsible authorities. 'A key figure in the protection of children should be the dedicated line manager, outside the children's unit, who specialises in child care or better still in residential child care, having had experience of working in it' (Rec.48). The report also recognised the pressure these individuals can be under and the workload sometimes affecting their capacity to offer the level of support required. It is recognised that employers must recognise the importance of senior staff maintaining contact with residential units (Rec.49).
"People Like Us" (Utting 1997) A review of safeguards for children living away from home in England and Wales. It noted that external management should be: "continually vigilant in safeguarding the welfare of the children for whom they are responsible. The role of the external manager is critical to preventing abuse" p.174 The report noted weaknesses in arrangements for visiting services and emphasised the key role the external manager has in supervising the person in charge and ensuring supervision is available to all staff. The report concluded that "overall excellence" was the best safeguard and a "protective strategy" must include management which "pursues overall excellence and is vigilant in protecting children and exposing abuse" p.1
Edinburgh's Children: The report of the Edinburgh Inquiry into the abuse and protection of children in care (Marshall et al., 1999) There were a number of references to the role of external management: Lesson 12: External managers did not recognise that there were serious problems in one of the homes investigated. Lesson 14: The children in Dean House (home run by independent organisation) were not aware of McLennan (convicted of sexual and other abuses against children) having a boss. Lesson 23: Staff in Dean House experienced the governors as distant. They said that their attempts to talk about their concerns were not responded to. Lesson 26: There was no clear allocation of roles and responsibilities and no clear accountability. There were particular comments on the visits of external managers. In the Director of Social Work's contribution he notes that: 'the external manager of a residential unit ….is a key person in picking up on regular visits any oppressive or inappropriate behaviour'. This monitoring can include planned and unplanned visits, attendance at meetings (staff and residents), supervision of the unit manager, involvement in training days, sampling of case files/care plans, reading of incident register etc (p.181). However, he noted that 'these visits had been reduced' (due to 'financial restructuring'). The Inquiry found that external managers did visit units but frequency and time on site had been adversely affected by increased responsibility on the individuals concerned. It also noted that some young people did know the name of the external manager but others did not and this may be a cause for concern (Lesson 14). The Inquiry recommends that sufficient time was allocated to external managers to visit units and senior management should recognise the value of these visits (Rec. 69). The report also raised concerns about the accountability of residential homes, especially within independent organisations and the role of their external management.
'Lost in Care' - The Waterhouse Report investigated the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974 (Waterhouse et. al., 2000) The report is critical of all levels of management in the local authorities, especially in relation to the monitoring and supervision of the homes. The section in relation to Clwyd describes senior management as having a 'lack of awareness of its responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child' and also noted that 'weakness of management arrangements' contributed to the lack of care (p.91).
Historical Abuse Systemic Review: Residential schools and children's homes 1950 - 1995 (Scottish Government, 2007) The Tom Shaw report recommended that legislation and policy should be evaluated for fitness for purpose (p.155). It also suggested setting up a task force which would, among other things, ensure that monitoring and inspection of residential child care services would focus on what can be done to best safeguard children and enable them to achieve their potential (p.156). Support for staff from external managers was key (p.204). Effective monitoring and inspection was given particular significance in the concluding remarks emphasising that good governance, external evaluation, informed supervision and support and good guidance contribute to the best protection of children in residential child care (p.161).
National Residential Child Care Initiative ( NRCCI) (2009) The National Residential Child Care Initiative reported in 2009, producing four substantial reports. The workforce report makes specific reference to the role of the external manager and recommends this piece of work as well as reaffirming those from the Kerelaw report in relation to supervision and professional development of unit managers. Another significant issue raised within NRCCI was the responsibility of local authorities for young people placed out of authority or with non-local authority providers. There are no statutory requirements for the structures of management or governance which mean that these can be varied. The workforce report states that the expectations of the external management of services should apply to all regardless of structure.


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