Cabinet members will be asked to approve a report to set up a new council-managed children’s residential home at their next meeting on Wednesday 13 January. The report proposes a five-bed residential home in Barnsley, which will provide high-quality placements for children in need of care.
Barnsley Council’s ambition is that all children are cared for by families and the majority of children in care are looked after in family placements. Consequently, the council has very few council-run children’s homes. It's important that Barnsley Council offer a choice in provision and for a small number of children, residential care is best. When this is needed, and there is no capacity at the existing council-managed residential home, external placements are procured. The report proposes a new children’s home to make sure that capacity is available and external, out-of-borough placements can be avoided.
By caring for children in a council-managed residential home, the council can ensure that children get the right emotional and wellbeing support, stay in their local area, at their school and with their social network. A smaller residential home also offers a more personalised approach for young people, which has been demonstrated locally and nationally to deliver positive outcomes for children in care.
A council-managed residential home not only ensures children aren’t moved out of the borough, and that they are receiving the very best quality of care, but it also reduces the financial impact of using external providers. In the past five years, there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of children in care nationally, which has meant that the number of placements needed is greater than council-managed residential care capacity. The average weekly cost of an external placement has also risen year-on-year.
The location for the residential home hasn’t been chosen at this stage, but when it is, there will be extensive consultation with the local community and key stakeholders.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Service, said: “This report is driven by what’s best for our children - keeping them in Barnsley so they are close to their families and friends, local services and the places they know. As part of the proposals, there will be a health and wellbeing support worker working across both children’s residential homes to ensure the level of care is excellent and that our young people are supported to have the best possible outcomes.
“A property and location for the proposed children’s home have not yet been chosen, so the report sets out a broad range of indicative estimates for what the property may cost, including potential refurbishment and costs. Once a property is chosen, a further report will be presented to cabinet with the actual costs and savings outlined. We’ll also consult and engage widely with the local community and stakeholders.
“I’m confident that the new home will be well-run and provide excellent care for children, while complementing our existing high performing children’s residential home.
“If the report is approved, we’ll consult with the Care 4 Us Council, to make sure the views of children in care and care leavers are incorporated into the planning and development of this residential home. Representatives will also be involved in the recruitment and selection of staff.”