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Children’s home strategy would improve care and reduce costs

Children and young people

Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Children's home plan

A five-year plan could see more vulnerable children looked after closer to home and generate significant savings for Middlesbrough Council.

Mayor Chris Cooke and his Executive team will be asked this week to back a strategy designed to reduce the use of expensive external placements for children in care.

The changes would see the Council purchase more properties to be used as children’s homes to grow its own residential care offer.

Children’s Services would also enter new partnerships with local accommodation providers.

A report to Executive forecasts the changes could save the Council almost £2m over four years and sets out several benefits of children being cared for in the Middlesbrough area.

They include supervised family time being easier to manage, stronger relationships and an increased potential for children to return home.

Social workers can also have greater oversight on care and education plans when a young person is living in the Middlesbrough area.

Safeguarding concerns mean some children and young people have reasons for living outside of the area and these arrangements wouldn’t change.

Cllr Zafar Uddin, Executive member for Children’s Services, said: “The plan to be considered this week puts the wellbeing of the children in our care first.

“Having Middlesbrough children looked after closer to home is extremely beneficial to their upbringing. They’re likely to feel less isolated and are more part of our community.

“At the same time, it puts us in a position where our arrangements are more cost-effective which is vitally important as we look to make the Council’s financial position more sustainable.”

On average, Middlesbrough Council residential placements cost £3,300 per week, compared to an average cost of £5,600 per week for an external placement.

Children’s Services in Middlesbrough saw its overall Ofsted rating upgraded following an inspection in March 2023. And the town’s provision for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities were given the highest possible rating following an Ofsted and Care Quality Commission inspection last October.

Executive will consider the residential care report on February 28.