A uniform national contract for children's charities providing residential care could soon be in place.
Members of the Association of Directors of Social Services are working on the first draft of the contract, which should be completed next month.
If accepted, the new contract will replace the individual contracts charities have to agree with each local authority that places a child in one of their homes.
Andy Haines, chief executive of the Together Trust, which runs 25 children's homes and takes placements from more than 20 local authorities, gave a qualified welcome to the move.
"The fact that there are a variety of contracts is unnecessary bureaucracy," he said. "But each child has individual needs and their care plans must be reflected in the detail of the contract."
The new contract has been developed by Hertfordshire County Council.
Tracy Bowers, the commissioning officer at the council, said the contract would ensure high standards of care, reducing bureaucracy and repetition for providers.