Children and families services: For parents and carers

Types of children and families services Ofsted regulates

Our regulation of children and families services covers children’s social care.

We register six sorts of children’s social care. We only register children's social care providers after checking they and their premises are suitable. We can cancel their registration if they don't meet the legal requirements. 

  • Adoption support agencies
    Adoption support agencies provide counselling, advice and information to anyone affected by adoption as set out in relevant regulation.
  • Children's homes
    Children's homes give care and accommodation mainly for children and young people under the age of 18 where the local authority agrees this is in the child’s best interests.
  • Independent fostering agencies
    Fostering services find and recruit foster carers and then support them to look after children where the local authority agrees this is the best thing for the child. An independent fostering agency is an organisation which recruits, trains, assesses, registers and supports foster carers. Children and young people looked after by the local authority may be placed with foster carers who are registered with an independent fostering agency.
  • Residential family centres
    Residential family centres provide short-term accommodation for children and their parents. During the placement the centre assesses the parents' ability to look after their child and respond to their needs.
  • Residential holiday schemes for disabled children
    These schemes provide holidays for disabled children. They may operate at any time throughout the year. There is no minimum number of days which they can operate but they cannot operate for more than 56 days in any 12-month period. No individual child may be accommodated for more than 28 consecutive days in any 12-month period.
  • Social work providers
    Local authorities can delegate their statutory functions for looked after children and care leavers to private or voluntary providers – we call these social work providers (SWPs). SWPs must register with Ofsted before local authorities can delegate functions to them.
  • Voluntary adoption agencies
    A voluntary adoption agency is a not-for-profit organisation that finds families for children who need to be placed for adoption.

Annual Report 2012/13