Bradford Council’s Children’s Services is proposing to make changes to the way children’s residential care is provided to help ensure more children are accommodated within the district, minimising disruption to their lives.
A report to be discussed at the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26 July will outline plans to buy 12 beds from external children’s homes providers within the district, or within a 20 mile radius of the district. These homes would be for children and young people aged 10-18 and would provide 24 hour care, staffing and support, which would meet the children’s education, health, cultural and social and independent living needs.
Children would be placed in this accommodation on a short to medium term basis with some possible emergency care provision.
The move will reduce the likelihood of children being placed outside the district due to there being a guaranteed number of available beds. This means they can, where appropriate, maintain contact with family, friends and reduce any disruption to their education.
Bradford Council’s provision of children’s residential care is duty-bound by the White Rose Looked After Children Residential Framework Agreement – a regional agreement between 12 Yorkshire and Humber councils* over how looked after children services are purchased, which allows this kind of block purchasing.
The Council also has a ‘Suffiency Duty’ which requires authorities to be able to show they are taking steps to provide ‘reasonably practicable’ accommodation within their area. A review of this ‘duty’ has been carried out over the last 18 months. This has concluded that there is still a need for externally-provided short to medium term residential care, i.e. accommodation provided by other agencies as well as the council. This would enable the authority to meet unexpected demand for beds.
The Council also hopes to increase the number of foster carers and reduce the number of in-house residential beds.
Coun Val Slater, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It is distressing enough for a child having to be taken into local authority care, so we need to do everything we can to keep them within their local area, near to family, friends and school. This at least means they have something constant in their lives. And there is now a need to reshape our services to make this happen wherever possible.”