BLAENAU Gwent council is looking for a building that it can convert into a residential care home for children.
At a meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s People scrutiny committee on Tuesday, September 6, councillors will receive a report, explaining why the facility is needed.
Interim director of social services, Tanya Evans will tell councillors that Blaenau Gwent will bid for £750,000 of grant funding from the Welsh Government.
Ms Evans said: “The purpose of this report is to seek support to develop a business case to provide local authority children’s residential provision in Blaenau Gwent in collaboration with a neighbouring authority.
“Too often children are placed out of county or out of country, at great expense, removing them further from their families and social networks.
“As our social services department do not have the expertise or capacity to manage our own children’s residential provision, we would need to explore our neighbouring authorities supporting us in this role and managing the provision on our behalf.
“If any collaboration is agreed, it will take approximately take 18 months – to two years to make the bid for capital funding, identify and purchase the property in Blaenau Gwent.”
Blaenau Gwent would then need to make alteration to the building to make sure it complies with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) regulations so that it can be registered as a children’s home.
The report goes on to say that in 2019/20 the cost of residential placements for “children looked after” was £2.5million.
In 2020/21 the cost had dropped to £2million as the number of children needing residential provision had dropped.
The report indicates that average cost of looking after a child in care is up to £4,600 a week.
Ms Evans said: “The current plan is to source a home in Blaenau Gwent that can accommodate four children.
“We would initially look to place new children who require residential care in
this new home alongside identifying which children currently in residential
care we could move closer to home.”
Ms Evans says that choosing to do this would “not necessarily result in cost savings” but will result in more effective use of resources.
“Children will be living in Blaenau Gwent and the costs of facilitating family time and social work travelling time will undoubtedly be reduced,” said Ms Evans.
The number of children under Blaenau Gwent’s care has fluctuated over the last decade.
In 2013, the figure was six, increasing to 18 in May 2019 and dropping back to 12 as of March 2022.
Comments from the scrutiny committee will be added to the report which will be discussed by the Cabinet for a decision on September 14.