Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF)

  • Gov Legislation
  • Author:UK Government
  • Published:March 2022 (Last updated)
  • Country: United Kingdom

Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): independent fostering agencies

Guidance on how Ofsted inspects independent fostering agencies.

Published by: Ofsted
Published on 22 February 2017 and Last updated on 11 March 2022

This framework sets out Ofsted’s process for inspecting independent fostering agencies.

Our approach is underpinned by the following 3 principles that apply to all social care inspections:

  • to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives
  • to be consistent in our expectations of providers
  • to prioritise our work where improvement is needed most


The social care common inspection framework (SCCIF) applies to inspections of:

  • children’s homes.
  • secure children’s homes.
  • independent fostering agencies.
  • boarding schools and residential special schools.
  • voluntary adoption agencies.
  • adoption support agencies.
  • residential family centres.
  • residential holiday schemes for disabled children.
  • residential provision in further education colleges.

The SCCIF means that:

  • we apply the same judgement structure across the range of settings listed above.
  • the experiences and progress of children and other service users, wherever they live or receive help, are central to inspections.
  • there are key areas of evidence that we usually report on at each inspection.

The SCCIF is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ framework. Where necessary, the SCCIF reflects and addresses the unique and distinct aspects of each type of setting. However, the evaluation criteria we use to make judgements and the accompanying guidance are, wherever possible, consistent across settings.

To focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives

We have reached a general consensus with the main social care stakeholders that social care inspections should focus on the experiences and progress of children. We regularly ask children, and the adults who look after them, what matters most about children’s experiences and progress.

Using this to guide us, we focus the criteria for our judgements on the difference that providers are making to children’s lives. Adults can only support children well if they’re given the time, resources and information they need to do this, so we also take into account the quality of the support that the adults who care for children receive.

To be consistent in our expectations of providers

It’s important that professionals and members of the public can compare services that do similar things. We make this possible by being consistent in what we expect from providers.

We use the same judgement structure and the same evaluation criteria, whenever possible, irrespective of where children live or receive help.

Our inspection methods and published guidance only differ when there is a good reason. This includes taking a similar approach to deciding on the frequency of inspections.

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SCCIF Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF)
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