New Residential Care Homes for Children Planned in Blaenau Gwent, Pending Need
MORE residential care homes for children could be established in Blaenau Gwent – if the need is there.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, November 29, senior councillors were given an update on the project to convert two properties in Tredegar into residential care homes for children.
The council bought two detached houses, called Madison House and Mon Calpe, which are located off Picton Road, Dukestown for the scheme.
The Planning Committee approved a change of use planning application last March.
But there have been delays with the project, and an opening date of January 1 has been pushed back to the end of July next year.
The delays have been down to the timescale of getting the homes registered with Care Inspectorate Wales and around designing the changes to the properties and awarding a contract to a firm to make the necessary adaptations.
Interim director of social services, Tanya Evans said: “This is our first children’s home in Blaenau Gwent and we’re looking forward to this project coming online in 2024.”
She hoped that having children live in care homes in Blaenau Gwent, close to their homes, family, friends, and education would improve their lives as well as produce financial savings for the council.
The scheme is also partly to address government expectations.
The Welsh Government has said that they want to “eliminate private profit” from the care of children looked after by local authorities in Wales by the end of the current Senedd term in 2026.
To do this local authorities across Wale will need to establish their own residential care homes for children.
Cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, Cllr John C Morgan asked: “Do you think that’s going to lead to an increase in the need for homes run by ourselves?”
Ms Evans said: “Absolutely, which is why we’ve taken this step for this project and we’re hopeful this one home will meet the needs of Blaenau Gwent, we’re keeping that under review but clearly if it doesn’t, we will be looking to increase the provision in years to come.”
She stressed that setting up the care home is a “huge undertaking” for the authority.
Ms Evans said: “Particularly as this is the first time, we’ve done this and we’re drawing on the experience of our neighbouring local authorities who have been doing this for a long time.
“There may be the need for us to have more children’s care homes in the future, but we need to set up one and run it successfully before we embark on any other projects.”
Deputy council leader, Cllr Helen Cunningham: “I welcome this, it’s good to hear the updates and the progress on this important piece of work.”
She asked how soon would the homes be able to take the maximum number of children.
The expectation is that four children live at Mons Calpe.
At Madison House, the plan is to provide emergency care for two children and accommodation for two youngsters over 16 years of age as stepping stone from care to living independently.
Cllr Cunningham pointed out that the report said that £123,000 of “cost pressure” would fall on next year’s budget as the homes would start out by taking only three children.
Ms Evans explained that children currently with private care providers were being reviewed on whether it is “the right thing” for them to move placements.
She added that it was being made “very clear” that any children brought into council care now would be placed in private residential homes as a “short term measure” as they would be expected to move to the newly opened home next year.
Ms Evans said: “The matching of children living together is crucial because if you get that wrong you are developing a pressure cooker of children with very complex needs.
“There’s lots of considerations and we may not be able to achieve full occupation immediately.”
Cabinet approved the report.
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