Children’s homes face a bleak future

The future of the three children’s homes in Devon is very bleak after the announcement that Devon County Council plans to close them.

We have won a brief hold on this, pending a review of the closure decision by councillors on a scrutiny committee at Devon County Council, but a final decision is expected on Wednesday, March 12.

Ideally, all children would be living with their families in a caring, loving and supportive home.

That’s not always possible and for whatever reasons a small number of children and young people may need a place in a children’s home.

And if that has to happen, wouldn’t we want the children’s home to be as close as possible, helping to maintain family links where that can be done.

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Closing the three children’s homes and keeping no county council-run facility will mean using privately run children’s homes, possibly sending children out of the county, or relying on a small number of ‘super foster families’ with additional training and skills to support children who may well be very damaged emotionally.

Devon says it wants to be a ‘commissioning council’ – it doesn’t see itself running services. Rather it will ‘buy in’ care services.

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Closing Devon’s children’s homes takes away another choice.

The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind and out of county’ perhaps sums up the thinking at County Hall.

It’s not the children’s fault the county council has run into problems with some of its children’s services, but if the homes are closed they will end up paying an unfair price with perhaps less scrutiny and checking than is currently the case.

That’s not a future or children’s service I think we should welcome or accept.

Councillor Alan Connett

Shadow Leader of the Council

Devon County Council

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