Posted: Sun 6th Aug 2023

Swansea council aims to increase children’s residential homes to reduce out-of-county placements and address concerns of nearby residents. /

SWANSEA Council is trying to build up its stock of children’s residential homes to reduce out-of-county placements, and wants to allay any concerns of people living close by them.
Chris Griffiths, the council’s principal residential services officer, said finding the right property in the right location and recruiting staff could be tricky.
He also told a child and family services scrutiny panel that some private operators of children’s homes were withdrawing from the sector because of a Welsh Government plan to eliminate private profit.
He said that as of April 1, 2026, any new children’s residential homes will have to register as not-for-profit.
Mr Griffiths said: “The amount of demand is very difficult to meet in-house.”
Julie Davies, head of child and family services, said the council would like to continue working with a couple of Swansea-based private children’s care providers, and said she hoped the Welsh Government would publish its definition of not-for-profit to provide clarity.
The council currently has a three-bedroom residential home for older teenagers in a semi-rural location, and proposes adding two bungalows on site for those transitioning to an independent life.
It also has a three-bedroom residential home in an urban area. Both properties are registered with the regulator Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).
The council has another property which remains in the planning stages. The aim is to create a one-bed “semi-secure” setting for young people with more complex needs.
The adjacent semi-detached property is earmarked for a two-bed setting for children and young people who need emergency placements.
Finally, a four or five-bed home is proposed in a semi-rural area to support 12 to 18-year-olds who have suffered abuse or neglect, with a therapeutic clinician on site.
Mr Griffiths said in-house provision would help reduce the council’s use of unregulated children’s placements, which was caused in part by a shortage of foster carers.
He said children in unregulated emergency settings sometimes had to move after a couple of weeks, or a month, which had a negative impact on them. But he said unregulated settings were overseen and risk-assessed robustly by the council.
Cllr Cheryl Philpott asked what challenges the council had when it consulted people living near to proposed children’s residential homes.
Mr Griffiths said some neighbours had safety concerns, while cabinet member for care services, Cllr Louise Gibbard, said it was understandable that some people would be “a little bit reticent”.
Cllr Gibbard encouraged councillors to assist in this regard and convey to the public how important children’s residential homes were.
The scrutiny panel was also told that improvements at the council’s Ty Nant children’s residential home, where young people were now allocated three rather than one case worker, were continuing.
At one point CIW had issued the home with five “priority action notices” for non-compliance but Mr Griffiths said all of these had been successfully addressed.
He added that feedback from the young people residing at Ty Nant and in particular family members, was positive.
According to the report before the panel, one family member said: “We feel she’s really, really well supported and cared for. We feel we’re in a safe cocoon, in a really good place. We know she’s being taken care of, it’s been massive for us.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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