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Help at Hand’s efforts to increase access to advocacy for children in homes or residential schools that have a provisional rating of inadequate  

Help at Hand is the Children’s Commissioner’s advice and representation service for children in care, children living away from home, children working with social services and care leavers.  

On 1st April 2023 Ofsted and the Childrens’ Commissioner’s Office entered into a new data sharing agreement. The purpose of this agreement is to ensure children who are in homes (Children’s Homes and Residential Special Schools) that have a provisional rating of  inadequate have access to advocacy.  

Children in homes that have been rated inadequate may have received poor care and/or may be facing a move from their home; it is important that their voices are heard. Advocates could help the child by making a complaint or by ensuring their wishes about where they want to go next are heard by professionals.  

How it works 

Ofsted shares with the Help at Hand team the details of the home Ofsted have provisionally rated inadequate and the names of the authorities that have placed children there.  The Help at Hand team contacts those authorities to check that the children have access to an advocate and can speak to the Commissioner’s Help at Hand team if they want to.  

We hope that our notifications increased access to advocacy for this group of children. The responses we have highlighted that many of the children did not already have advocates and we were contacted by some professionals who did not know how to refer to an advocate.  

We welcome children, advocacy services, and local authorities feedback on how this new notification system is working for them.  

Children and young people or their advocates can contact Help at Hand by calling 0800528 0731, emailing [email protected], or through our online form: Get in touch | Children’s Commissioner for England (    

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