A PERSHORE residential home which provides care for youngsters with complex social and emotional difficulties could face the axe as cash-strapped county council chiefs bid to save more than £500,000 a year.
Orchardene on Station Road is one of four homes across Worcestershire in the firing line as part of sweeping changes to the county’s approach to looking after children in care.
Members of the County Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve plans on Thursday (October 18) to slash the number of residential homes in Worcestershire from 12 to six in a bid to provide
Four homes which provide long-term and short breaks for children with disabilities will remain open at sites in Evesham, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and in Worcester.
But Orchardene, together with Rivendell in Bromsgrove, Oak House, Worcester and The Riddings, Bricklehampton could be axed as council bosses seek to close a further two homes to deliver the savings need as they attempt to tackle a £17.9million budget deficit.
Nationally there has been a significant increase in the numbers of children in care. Between 2010 and 2016 the numbers of looked after children in England rose by 10 per cent.
In Worcestershire, there are approximately 820 looked after children and young people. A proportion of the increase has been a result of the service taking more proactive action to protect children from harm as part of its improvement journey from an inadequate Ofsted judgement at the beginning of last year.
Coun Andy Roberts, cabinet member for Children and Families, said: “Supporting our children and families to stay together when it is in the best interests of the child has to be the right thing to do. Children and young people who enter care often perform less well at school and are much more likely to achieve poor outcomes later in life.
“By investing more into preventing our children from coming into the care system, we can keep families together and improve the lives of our children and young people.”
Evidence from a similar approach in Essex, which is Worcestershire’s improvement partner for children’s social care, has shown effective strategies to keep families together helps to keep children in school, reduces youth homelessness and has resulted in a seven per cent decrease in the number of children entering care.
Subject to the proposals being approved by cabinet members there will be a consultation process with children, young people and families and stakeholders in relation to the implementation of the new approach.
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