London Councils has announced that boroughs are using Department for Education funding to develop a new secure children’s home in the capital.
The country is facing a shortage of secure children’s welfare placements, with no service in London, meaning that children are often forced to move a significant distance away from the city when they become available. These placements are crucial as they allow vulnerable children to stay safe when other placements have the ability to do so. Children who are likely to require this support have often:
- Suffered from a great deal of trauma
- Faced unmet emotional, mental and physical health needs
- Experienced lots of instability
- Missed significant amounts of education
Specialist welfare placements for up to 24 highly vulnerable children with complex needs will be provided through the new services, whilst also including accommodation for up to four children who no longer need to be housed within a secure environment. This will allow them to benefit from a period of extra support as they look to transition back into the community. Not only will the most vulnerable children in London be supported through this facility, but it will also contribute to the alleviating of some of the national capacity issues that are faced elsewhere.
Executive Director of Children and Families at the London Borough of Barnet, Chris Munday, who is leading the project as Regional Chair for Commissioning and Resources at the Association of London Directors of Children’s Services, said:
“A new secure welfare provision, in London, will help boroughs provide the right support, at the right time, to improve outcomes for London’s most vulnerable children.
“Currently, due to the shortage of secure welfare placements, children are waiting several months for a placement, and these are usually around 200 miles from the capital - far from their families, friends and other people that are important to them. This distance also has a negative impact on the work we do to prepare children to leave secure care and settle back into the community.
“Alongside this, we are seeing a worrying increase in applications to deprive children of their liberty in less suitable provision, because secure welfare provision is just not available.
“This important project, which I am proud to lead on behalf of ALDCS, is part of a wider programme of work that London boroughs are delivering together to tackle the shortage of suitable local placements for the extremely vulnerable children we are working with.”
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