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Important Update – The Secure Welfare Coordination Unit has an updated referral form from 1 April 2019.
More details can be found in the SWCU section.

Welcome to the Secure Children’s Homes website. There are 15 individually managed Secure Children’s Homes throughout England and Wales encompassing a range of services within a secure environment that support the individual needs of the children in its care. They provide placements for boys and girls aged between 10 and 17 and include full residential care, educational facilities and healthcare provision. A very high level of intensive help is offered to each young person, with low children to staff ratios. The secure children’s homes work closely with multi-agency partners to deliver individualised care plans.

This website has been built to support social workers, local authorities, commissioners, partner organisations, young people and their families and guardians. It provides an overview of the homes and their services to demonstrate the exceptional quality of specialist care that each home provides. There are then links to the individual homes where much more specific information can be obtained. The website also provides a guide to the referrals process to facilitate making a placement.

The Secure Accommodation Network (SAN) is the body responsible for the development and promotion of Secure Children’s Home services and as such provides this website. Its membership consists of representatives from all Secure Children’s Homes. Some of the most vulnerable and at risk young people are placed in Secure Children’s Homes and therefore they are subject to in-depth regulation through Ofsted. The Secure Accommodation Network meets regularly to review national policy and work with national agencies to continue to develop best practice and improve outcomes for all.

We hope you find this website useful and informative and encourage you to keep in touch with the Secure Children’s Homes via this website and the Secure Accommodation Network. Please provide feedback, share your experiences and keep up to date with the latest developments in this effective and specialised area of children’s services.

Welfare Safety Checks Framework

The framework for observations was developed in response to two fatal incidents in secure children’s homes investigated by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, who recommended that the Department for Education and the Welsh Government produce such a framework. The DfE and the Welsh Government accepted this recommendation and agreed that a framework for observations should be developed by the sector for the sector. The Secure Accommodation Network led on the production of the framework with some logistical support from DfE. The Welsh Government and DfE commented on the document.
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Secure Welfare Coordination Unit 2018 Data

The Secure Welfare Coordination Unit (SWCU) has been collecting data on welfare placements in secure children’s homes since 2016. Data from the secure children’s homes is collected by the SWCU on a daily basis. The unit collects data on all aspects of referrals for young people and the outcomes of those referrals, including where there have been challenges to making placements. This data is used by the sector and by the DfE to build greater understanding of what is working and where changes may be needed in the future

A monthly summary of the data on is available to view here. The summary includes data on secure welfare bed availability, referrals, placements before secure and placements on exiting secure. This data is experimental and has developed over time in order to support the sector. The use of the SWCU is not mandated so this data does not cover each placement and it is only based on referrals received through the SWCU. This is not an official statistical release, it is collected over a short time series and is intended only to provide summary of the secure welfare estate.

The DfE are aware of the current challenges around bed availability and capacity within the sector. There are a number of factors which affect bed availability and occupancy rates. A secure children’s home must assess each referral received and make a decision on whether the young person is an appropriate match for their home, this is based upon the profile of the other young people in the secure unit, their current staffing level and the needs of the young person the local authority is seeking to place. The registered manager of the secure children’s home always has the authority to refuse a referral and has a responsibility to ensure all children in their home are kept safe. The DfE does not have a direct role in the commissioning of secure children’s homes beds or the placing of individual children requiring secure care and the SWCU has no powers to place individual children or to compel managers of homes to accept referrals but works with secure homes to help facilitate the finding of a suitable placement for any children who are referred.

The DfE have agreed with Ministers to take forward a reform programme within the secure children’s home sector which will include the formation of a central commissioner of beds and the development of new secure welfare provision to increase capacity in the sector and continue to support the sector through the Capital Grants Programme which has provided £40m worth of funding to homes for renovations and to extend units to increase the number of beds.

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New Referrals Process Guidance Booklet

The Secure Welfare Coordination Unit has created a guidance booklet to support the referral process for a secure welfare placement. The booklet includes the process, statement of responsibility, FAQ’s and mock referrals.

This guidance booklet can be found on the Referrals page.

A personal account of a young persons journey during a welfare stay at a Secure Children’s Home

A secure welfare placement is a placement route which is not taken lightly by a local authority as it entails depriving a young person of their liberty. When this decision is taken, a young person can be informed of the decision in different manners and, at the time a decision is made, it can be unknown to the young person what a placement within a secure children’s home will look like for them, or even how long they might reside there.

A young person who has resided within a secure children’s home on welfare grounds has written an account of their journey within the placement and the positive impact it had on her.

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MP Dr Phillip Lee Visit to Clayfields House

Dr Phillip Lee tweeted about his visit commenting on the great work done educating and caring for some of the most challenging young people in Britain.