Council expects increase in number of residential children’s homes
Elgan Hearn Local Democracy Reporter
Extra residential care homes for children could be established in a Gwent borough according to councillors.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 29 November, senior councillors were given an update on the project to convert two properties in Tredegar into residential care homes for children.
The council purchased 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 1 January has been pushed back to the end of July next year.
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 Wales will need to establish their own residential care homes for children.
Cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, Councillor 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, Councllor Helen Cunningham said: “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.
Councllor 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 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.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.