TWO new children’s homes are set to be created in Leicester to help boost the number of council-run homes for children and young people in care.
Plans have been drawn up to convert two former council-owned houses in Aylestone and a former children’s home site in Braunstone into homes that will provide places for five and six young people respectively, between the ages of eight and 17.
The proposed expansion would mean that Leicester City Council would be able to care for more children and young people in-house, increasing capacity from five children’s homes, caring for up to 30 children and young people, to seven homes caring for up to 41.
“The city council is determined to provide the best possible care for the children and young people we look after,” said Councillor Sarah Russell, deputy city mayor for social care.
“The vast majority of children who can’t live with their birth families live with foster carers, but this isn’t right for everyone, and increasing demand for children’s social care services in recent years means there has been a significant rise in demand for residential children’s homes. This is the case across the country.
“This has led to an increase in the use of external providers. We will always need to do this, and they can offer a high standard of care, but we also believe there are substantial advantages to providing more of these homes and care ourselves. For a start, all our city council-run children’s homes are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, demonstrating our experience and expertise in providing quality care.
“All of our homes are within the city, which means children and young people can continue to receive support within their communities rather than them moving away from Leicester. This continuity and stability can be very important to children experiencing major disruption to their lives.
“There are also financial advantages to providing more places ourselves. External providers can raise fees and that is outside our control, but by providing places in-house we can control costs – as well as benefitting from economies of scale across all our children’s homes.”
The estimated costs for creating each of the new homes are around £1,100,000 each. Leicester City Council has been awarded £500,000 towards the first home from the Department for Education’s children’s homes capital funding programme.
Cllr Russell added: “We are proposing to use part of the council’s capital budget – the money we set aside for big projects – to fund the rest of the project. We consider this a really important use of our resources to help support and protect some of Leicester’s most vulnerable children and young people.”
There are currently more than 50 children and young people living in external residential children’s homes at any one time, with an average cost of £3,900 per week. The average direct cost at an in-house home in 2020/21 was between £3,400 and £3,800 a week.
Both proposals will be subject to planning application processes, which include an opportunity for members of the public to comment on the proposals.