New inspection tool for day care services

From October 2017 to March this year, the Care Inspectorate has been piloting a new inspection tool across some of the daycare of children’s services called Short Observational Framework for Inspection (SOFI).

SOFI helps inspectors to record their observations of the impact that staff interactions have on the quality of outcomes for young children in services such as nurseries and playgroups.

The tool was originally designed for use in care homes where people have dementia or severe learning disabilities and therefore lack the capacity to verbally communicate their views, but SOFI has now been adapted to support the evaluation of quality interactions in children’s settings.

Audrey Donnan, Team Manager, said: “We are using the tool to focus observations during inspection with children under three years of age, with a particular focus on two-year-olds.

“SOFI supports the assessment of outcomes for children by providing indicators about what to look for within interactions and a recording format to support professional dialogue with staff during the inspection.

“Directly observing children and staff is an important way to help us to assess the quality of care and learning being provided. An observer can attempt to tune into children’s experience, look for clues in their general mood and engagement and how staff providing care and learning interact with children to provide positive interactions.”

SOFI fits within the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) framework as it puts children’s experiences at the centre and serves to improve outcomes for children.

The sharing of the focused observations with staff on the experiences of individuals will identify aspects for improvement relating to the wellbeing indicators of safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included (SHANARRI).

Audrey added: “The quality of care that children experience has an impact on their learning and development. Children need to feel secure in their environment to explore and learn. The attachments that are formed with adults will have a significant impact on their ability to develop. SOFI is a tool to help us inspect services from the child’s perspective.”

The SOFI pilot findings will be assessed at the end of March to see how the tool can be rolled out for the inspections of other children’s services.