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Agenda item

Consultation on the proposal for a planned closure of Silverwood and Cherry Tree House children's homes and the agreement to the relocation of Nelson Street Leaving Care Service to Hollowgate.

 

To agree the commencement of consultation on the proposal for a planned closure of Silverwood and Cherry Tree House children’s homes and the agreement to the relocation of Nelson Street Leaving Care Service to Hollowgate.

 

 

Report of the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services

Cabinet Member:     Councillor Watson (in advisory role)

Commissioner:         Bradwell

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report which sought agreement to commence consultation on the proposal for a planned closure of Silverwood and Cherry Tree House children’s homes and to relocate Nelson Street Leaving Care Service to Hollowgate.

 

It was reported that the ‘Looked After Children and Care Leavers Placement Sufficiency Strategy 2015 – 2018’ had identified that too many looked after children in Rotherham lived in residential care and that more children needed to be placed in a family based setting. A comprehensive review had been undertaken and completed in February 2016, which incorporated the views of children and young people, including young inspectors and the Looked After Children Council, parents and carers, feedback from councillors and a range of professionals who have worked with children who have complex needs.

 

It was noted that the Council had three children homes with Silverwood being the one remaining home that provided long-term care for male and female young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Cherry Tree House and Liberty House provided long-term care and short breaks, respectively, for children with disabilities and their families. It was further noted that the Council had three leaving care accommodation and support services in a property adjacent to Silverwood (formerly known as the Annexe); Hollowgate and Nelson Street, which provided care to young people transitioning from residential care to semi-independent living.

 

Cabinet Members recognised that there had been issues with the Council’s children homes and that a significant amount of work had gone into improving them. However, it was not possible to make the two homes outstanding and with unit costs being very high and social workers indicating that they had little confidence in place children in the homes, it was necessary to consult on th proposal to close the home. The Council’s ambition was for children to be looked after in family settings and reference was made to the current campaign to recruit more foster carers to secure more local placement options.

 

Commissioner Bradwell indicated that she concurred with the comments of Cabinet Members and added that she had visited the two homes and found that the physical environments were not acceptable for modern use. Consequently, the ambition had moved towards providing care within a home environment, not a council residential home environment. The Commissioner indicated that she would like a fully costed plan which detailed the proposed timescales for the recruitment of foster carers, which is fully costed. 

 

Commissioner Bradwell agreed:

 

(1)  That the consultation on the proposed closure of Silverwood Children’s Home and Cherry Tree House be commenced.

 

(2)  That a further report on the outcome of the consultation in relation to Silverwood Children’s Home and Cherry Treet House be submitted to the first Cabinet and Commissioners’ Decision Making Meeting following the conclusion of the consultation.

 

(3)  That the Hollowgate Leaving Care Accommodation be retained.

 

(4)  That the Nelson Street Leaving Care Service be relocated to Hollowgate, and the building be decommissioned, remain closed and be returned to the Corporate Property Unit.

 

(5)  That the short breaks provision at Liberty House be continued.

 

(6)  That the property adjacent to Silverwood Children’s Home be retained whilst the current residents’ care needs are reviewed.

 

(As this is a Commissioner decision, it is not subject to ‘call in’.) 

Supporting documents: