Children's Social Care

Whether you run a children’s home, a special school, or fostering agency you are subject to regulation.  Ofsted and/or the Department for Education can act against a provider if they believe they are not complying with relevant legislation. 

Below are just some of the ways that Ridouts can help your business.

After a service has been inspected Ofsted will produce a draft inspection report recording its findings.  This includes rating a service.   Negative findings, breaches of regulations and ratings of ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ can have a negative effect on a service. 

Providers have a very short period of time to make factual accuracy comments.  If you do not make representations, you will be deemed to accept the findings.  Inspections can lead to other enforcement action. 

Poor inspection findings can lead to children being removed from services by commissioners.

Ridouts can help you to challenge the factual accuracy of the report.  We will work with you to gather evidence and put together as robust response as possible.  

Compliance Notices are issued when Ofsted believes that a registered person is failing or has failed to comply with a legal requirement imposed on them.  Failure to comply can result in a provider being prosecuted and is a specific ground upon which Ofsted can cancel a provider’s registration.

Ofsted state that there is no right to appeal a Compliance Notice but Ridouts has been successful in having Compliance Notices withdrawn. 

If Ofsted believes that a child, young person or adult may be at risk of harm if there are further admissions to a children’s home it can issue a Restriction of Accommodation Notice.  This prevents a children’s home from accepting any new placements.  Whilst restrictions are for time limited periods they can be extended by Ofsted.  

Often these Notices will prompt local authorities to assess existing placements which can lead to children being removed, leaving the home financially vulnerable.

Ridouts can work with you to present evidence to Ofsted as to why a Restriction is no longer needed, or appeal the Notice to the First-Tier Tribunal.

Ofsted has the power to cancel, suspend, or vary your registration with serious consequences for your business.  It can do so on an urgent basis which can leave you unable to run your service.  Ofsted can take such action by issuing a Notice of Proposal, a Notice of Decision and/or applying to a Magistrates’ Court when it believes that you are failing to comply with the relevant legislation. 

Ridouts can work with you to build a robust response to these types of action.

Cancellation of a children’s home registration also triggers related disqualification legislation. The legislation can prevent those who have had their registration cancelled, and relevant persons connected to a cancellation, from being involved in a children’s home (and other services) in the future. 

Providers may find themselves involved in safeguarding investigations.  Enquiries can sometimes lead to difficult, protracted and opaque section 47 safeguarding investigations.  They can lead to embargoes and young people and children being removed from the home. 

Ridouts can help you navigate, progress and challenge these investigations, where required.

If a child is harmed or dies in your care as a result of suspected abuse or neglect then you can find yourself under the spot light of multiple interested parties.  This will include a Local Authority Safeguarding Children Board and Ofsted and providers may find that the police and coroner are also interested.

A Serious Case Review (“SCR”) will be held to learn lessons from the situation however, often a finger gets pointed at the professionals who were caring for the child when they died, despite there being multiple party input to that care package. These processes can be complex, daunting and overwhelming.

Ridouts is well placed to advise a provider during a SCR which are often document heavy, detail driven investigations.

The purpose of an inquest is to establish facts.  It is not to apportion blame and the conclusion should not use language that suggests civil or criminal liability.  However, there are conclusions and language used that may have a negative impact on your service, including findings of neglect.  If managed properly then the risk of damage to your business from negative findings can be minimised.

Ridouts can help you navigate, appropriately participate and advise you on how to manage these proceedings.

The Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England and providers that wish to carry on regulated activities in England, must register with it.   If a provider carries on a regulated activity without being registered it is a criminal offence which is prosecutable.

The CQC has a wide range of powers, as the regulator, and frequently exercises those powers.  It has the power to:

  • Register providers wishing to provide regulated activities, as well as decline to register them
  • Inspect providers, rate a provider/service and publicly publish an inspection report.
  • Request information and documentation from providers under Section 64 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008
  • Take enforcement action against a provider in the form of:
    • Warning Notices
    • Fixed Penalty Notices
    • A Notice of Proposal (“NOP”)/Notice of Decision (“NOD”) to Cancel, Suspend or Vary a Provider’s Registration. This can be done on a slow basis (under Section 26 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008) or on and urgent basis (under section 31 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008)
    • Applying to a Magistrates’ Court to cancel a Provider’s registration on an urgent basis (under section 30 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008)
    • Prosecuting a provider for various offences

Ridouts only acts for providers of health and social care and can:

  • Advise on how to register with the CQC and challenge any refusal to register you.
  • Advise on the appropriateness of a section 64 request and on what documents should be provided, if any.
  • Challenge a draft inspection report and its facts and ratings via the factual accuracy comments process.
  • Challenge an inspection report’s ratings through the Rating Review process.
  • Challenge the appropriateness of a Warning Notice being issued and/or being publicly published.
  • Challenge a Fixed Penalty Notice.
  • Draft representations and appeals to Notices of Proposal and Decision and advise in relation to an urgent Magistrates’ Court cancellation hearing.
  • Advise in respect of a CQC prosecution.
  • Advise in respect of a Letter of Intent, which usually proceeds a section 31 Notice of Proposal or Notice of Decision.
  • Advise in relation to judicial review proceedings against the CQC for public law breaches.


Ridouts provides time sensitive, effective, results-driven advice to the sector.  The combination of staff skill mix, knowledge and experience means that our clients receive a service that helps them to find solutions to often complex and damaging situations.

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Ridouts is a team of specialist health and social care lawyers, providing dedicated legal advice for care homes, GP practices, children’s homes, dental practices, domiciliary and home care agencies, supported and independent living services and both private and NHS hospitals.     •     +44 (0) 207 317 0340   
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