Secure children’s homes could be forced to close if they do not get enough referrals for secure welfare beds, home managers have warned.
The Secure Accommodation Network (SAN), which represents 24 homes in England and Wales, said there were about 40 vacant welfare beds “in any one week” out of a total of around 150, and predicted this would increase.
According to SAN, “uncertainty in the market” has led to the closure of six secure children’s homes since 2004. It said councils were often unaware of vacancies within the secure estate because of a lack of national advertising.
The Department for Education and Skills is investigating the reasons for the vacancies, but SAN is concerned about the “viability” of its research. In a document produced by SAN, the group claimed the DfES investigation consisted of short telephone conversations with just 13 local authorities.
SAN chair Mary Graham said: “The DfES needs to look at why the demand for secure welfare beds has dropped.” The DfES said it would publish its report in a few weeks.