The body which represents local authority secure children’s homes has welcomed a government pledge to prevent further home closures, with numbers having fallen by 40% in the past five years.
The paper promised updated guidance on placements in secure homes, which will stress that placements should be considered a positive option.
And it said the government would work with councils, which place looked-after children with significant welfare needs, and the Youth Justice Board, which places young offenders, to develop a strategy to explore future demand for places and achieving a reasonable geographic spread.
Roy Walker, deputy chair of the network, said he was pleased to see the commitments in the white paper as it had been a “long battle” to get the value of the secure estate recognised. The number of secure homes has fallen from 31 to 19 in the past five years.
Walker said they were an easy target for councils to close because they were not seen as politically attractive.
Walker said there had been no logic to the way secure homes had been closed and said the home he managed in Hull had young people from as far away as Northamptonshire.
He said placing a child in a secure home could be a positive move if it improved behaviour and allowed resources to be devoted to them, and pointed out that some private sector alternatives were now more expensive.
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