Children’s homes review supported by councillors

Plans to revamp children’s homes in Leeds have been given a seal of approval by council decision-makers at a meeting this afternoon.

Leeds is revamping the way it looks after children.
Leeds is revamping the way it looks after children.

The authority’s ruling executive board of councillors heard plans to specialise each of the city’s residential homes for children and young people.

A report which went before members proposed a new arrangement which would involve each children’s home in the city take on a specialism for those with particular needs.

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Opposition party group leaders broadly welcomed the proposals, but added that further investment in children’s homes was needed.

Leeds is revamping the way it looks after children.

What does the council propose to do?

A report given to members of the executive committee suggested the following:

– One home will become a short stay “Safe Space” home to help young people on the “edge of care”.

– One home will become a “Wraparound Care Hub” providing outreach and

respite support to foster carers who care for adolescents.

– One home will become a “Moving to interdependence” home with a trainer flat and a network of linked properties to help older young people prepare for life in the community.

– Two homes will be reorganised to provide intensive “Towards Home” support

to help young people successfully return to their birth family or foster care.

The report added: “These homes will all be supported by an expanded multi-agency team of psychologists, youth workers and personal advisers to improve joined up help for this vulnerable group.”

What does the council say about it?

Leeds City Council’s head of children’s services Steve Walker said: “We are keen to ensure the care provided here is of the highest possible quality. It’s important to make sure we have the right balance of skills and placements, which is why we have changed the nature of placements.

“From the feedback we got from young people, they were telling us that they wanted to live in a home like everybody else’s. We closed the three large homes and opened smaller ones.

“There had previously been a tendency before to look at residential care as a destination, rather than a service.”

What about the opposition councillors?

Leeds City Council’s Liberal Democrat group leader Stewart Golton said: “Our residential homes are a core part of our offer. Many people think they’re old fashioned and associated them with orphanages.

“The demand for such kinds of care highlight the fact that the authority can’t accommodate for residential care.

“We under-budget in that area. I welcome the work that is being done to look at our portfolio of homes. We are quite keen the council increases its stock of residential care.”

Conservatives group leader Coun Alan Lamb said: “This report was very welcome.

“It would have been helpful if we had included the specific homes we are talking about so we could make a more informed decision.”

Mr Walker responded to Coun Lamb that the names of each individual home could not be identified publicly, as many of their names refer to the streets they are located in, and naming them could compromise the safety of vulnerable residents.