Children’s minister outlines plans to address problems in secure children’s home field
Hampshire Council will co-ordinate all placements for children in secure children’s homes, it has emerged.
Hampshire Council will set up a new unit to co-ordinate placements made by all local authorities from early May.
“The unit will remove some of the administrative difficulties and delays from phoning around multiple homes, multiple times to secure a vacancy. The unit will also provide a mechanism for gathering and sharing much-needed data on overall demand for places, flows into and out of the system and on the characteristics and needs of the looked-after children involved,” said Edward Timpson, children’s minister.
In a letter to the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services Dave Hill and chair of the Local Government Association Children and Young People’s Board Councillor Roy Perry, Timpson announced plans for “a short, focused programme of support and capacity building for secure homes early in 2016/17” for the harder to place children.
“Homes will be invited to bid for funding, identifying what additional, tailored capacity building activities, including specialist staff training, would add value to their home and its ability to respond to the highest needs children,” the letter said.
Timpson also outlined plans to strengthen links between secure children’s homes and mental health services. He said an evidence-based model of care for children and young people with complex mental health needs will be developed with the sector to improve the life chance of vulnerable young people and ensure that they make a successful transition to community and mainstream mental health care where appropriate.
Timpson announced that £1.4m of funding will be made available during 2016/17, followed by recurrent funding of £2.8m for the next three years, on top of monies already invested to increase CAMHS services in secure homes.
Addressing sector concerns that No more children’s homes should be lost, Timpson concluded: “Secure children’s homes lend vital support to many of our most vulnerable children. I believe the action outlined here – the commitment to further joint work to establish the case for long term change coupled with some early, focused action and investment to address the immediate pressures - provides a practical and positive way forward. I look forward to continuing to work with you and others on this over the coming months.”