Essex

Essex teenager wins care home undertaking from council

A boy who has had 15 foster parents since he was taken into care has won an undertaking from Essex County County over the closure of a care home.

The 17-year-old boy - who cannot be named - has lived in the home, which the authority is proposing to close, for four years.

The home is one of seven the council wants to shut to save about £1m a year.

It has now promised to his legal team not to move him or shut the home until his views have been taken into account.

The council also pledged that the boy would not be moved unless it had found him suitable alternative accommodation.

The undertaking also applies to other "settled" children at other Essex homes facing closure.

'Foolish things'

The council said its policy had always been to protect the interests of "looked after" children and move them to more suitable placements.

Mr Justice Collins said it was a "crying shame" that the council had failed to communicate its intention to "protect the interests" of every child to the children themselves and those representing them.

Ordering the council to pay legal costs, the judge said "foolish things" had been said by the authority about deadlines for closing the homes.

The failure to reassure the children had led to "money being spent on what was an unnecessary claim".

In its undertaking to the court, the council said it would "take proper account" of the children's views, and not try to move them until any dispute that might arise over their future had been resolved - if necessary by the High Court Family Division.

The council also promised to keep on enough staff to take care of the children until they were found new placements.

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