A DAMNING report into a children’s home in Warrington has revealed how management failed to prevent young residents from being sexually exploited.

The home, the name and address of which has been withheld by Ofsted, also failed to appropriately respond when a child alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by an older male.

The quality assurance visit was carried out to ensure that children were safe after concerns were identified from safeguarding notifications.

But during their visit in February, Ofsted representatives found ‘significant shortfalls’ in safeguarding practice and procedures.

The privately-owned children’s home, which is run by provider Cambian Childcare, is registered to care for and accommodate up to two children who may have emotional, behavioural or learning difficulties.

In their recently published report, inspectors said: “The interim manager and staff do not appropriately respond to incidents that occur, nor do they implement effective strategies to safeguard and protect the children living in the home.

“Two children live at the home and they are frequently going missing from home together. The provider has assessed that both children are at risk of child sexual exploitation.

“Records demonstrate that on numerous occasions, children have told staff that they have met unknown adult males and had engaged in sexual activities to gain money.

“Children have also informed staff that they have been scared about their own safety when out of the home.

“Staff are not sufficiently responsive in their approach, nor is it clear what actions staff have taken to reduce risks or what attempts have been made to prevent further occurrences of the children going missing from home.

“Despite the seriousness of a recent incident when a child alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by an older male, the interim manager has not identified clear strategies or processes for staff to follow to reduce this risk.”

The report goes on to say that staff lack the experience and skills to manage and understand risks posed to children as a result of them being sexually exploited, leading to insufficient action being taken.

Inspectors say there is a lack of stability and consistency, compounded by the fact that the home does not have a stable staffing team.

Since the visit at the end of February, one child has moved to a different children’s home, while home leaders are seeking to engage more meaningfully with the child remaining in the home.

The report concludes: “It is Ofsted’s view that the shortfalls highlighted at the visit are serious, and demonstrate that safeguarding practice is not sufficiently robust and does not promote the safety and welfare of children.

“Poor leadership and management practice, and a lack of ability to take effective action to improve the quality of care in the home, have compromised the safety, experience and progress of the children living in the home.

“Ofsted reasonably believes that a child may be at risk of harm if it allows further admissions to the home at this time.”

Following the publication of the report, a Cambian Childcare spokesman said: “The young person concerned remains safe and well now in one of our specialist services.

“We have appropriately reviewed our policies and procedures and continue to work with all agencies to ensure the safety of the young people we support at all times.”