A high level meeting to discuss vacant beds in local authority
secure children’s homes will go ahead despite a recent
decline in the number of empty beds, writes Chloe
Social services directors fear vacancies would force the closure
of some of the homes and a vital source of care for vulnerable
children would be lost.
The number of vacancies steadily increased from zero in June
2004 to 36 in May this year, according to figures from the Youth
Justice Board. However, the number of vacancies steadily reduced to
18 two weeks ago.
John Coughlan, chair of the children and families committee at
the Association of Directors of Social Services, said 18 vacant
beds still meant a large proportion of the sector was standing
empty. “It is impossible to tell whether this is a
blip,” he said.
The Association of Directors of Social Services, the Department
for Education and Skills, the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, the Youth Justice Board and the Secure Accommodation
Network are set to meet next month.
Coughlan said councils had experienced difficultly getting beds for
welfare (rather than criminal justice) placements in the past and
had consequently stopped looking for beds.