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Cost of placing children in care discussed at council meeting

THE cost of placing children in residential care was discussed by a task and finish group following approval of this year’s budget for Ceredigion County Council.

Corporate lead officer for specialist services adult and children, Carys James, said that she was glad that the working group had noted the budget impact of residential placements, which was a problem across Wales.

It currently did not have a huge impact in Ceredigion but it’s a situation that changes daily, said Mrs James, adding: “We only need a family to come forward with many children and matters might change.”

There are no residential placements in Ceredigion and when required they are found regionally, or even further afield, with “significant” costs, the healthier communities overview and scrutiny committee were told on July 11.

Mrs James added that there were currently bids underway for Welsh Government funding to build a regional unit for Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

When it came to court orders for secure accommodation Mrs James said “we had an individual in Liverpool but we’ve been as far as Shetland looking for a placement for a person.

“It’s very difficult when the court says ‘secure unit, local authority go and find one.’”

Cllr Lyndon Lloyd said that a regional fund should be set up to support local authorities facing sudden costs but there were questions about how it would be run fairly.

The working group made four recommendations to cabinet to consider including ensuring they are “mindful when considering future draft budgets that situations can change with regards to the number of children placed in residential homes on a daily basis and the monies required to pay for those placements can fluctuate.”

There is also a need to “ensure that when a child reaches adulthood that the transition period is as smooth as possible, taking into account individual needs” and “explore sharing resources with neighbouring authorities.”

Greater focus was to be put on transitioning to adults and living more independently as well as working preventively and early intervention with younger children.

A concern raised by committee chairman Cllr Mark Strong involved drug problems and the increase of county line trafficking.

He was told that as part of the current department restructure there was to be a substance misuse team put in place to focus on what could become an increasing problem.

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