South East Wales

Courts 'lack trust' in Bridgend's children's homes

Two children in a field - posed library picture

Children in care in Bridgend are being placed miles from where they live as courts do not trust the council's homes, a report says.

The council is reviewing provision at its two children's residential homes, Sunnybank and Newbridge House.

Staff say a high number of children are being placed in out-of-county care by the courts, due to a "lack of trust" in the service.

Bridgend council has been asked to comment.

Earlier this year, another report into the county's provision warned children in care could be at risk of sexual exploitation because the homes were based in areas where criminal damage, threats to kill and child abuse had taken place.

The new report by the corporate director of social services and wellbeing looks at the current situation ahead of changes to the service.

On average, more than 10 Bridgend children are being cared for outside the county at any one time, at a "significant" cost to the council, with the average placement costing £160,000 a year per child.

During meetings staff raised concerns a "lack of trust from the courts in the service's ability to achieve outcomes" was leading to the high number of out-of-county placements.

Other concerns highlighted include:

  • A lack of placement options and children being placed far away from home
  • No alternative homes for those with complex needs
  • Insufficient facilities to help young people move on from care, meaning children are staying in the homes "longer than necessary"
  • No emergency beds
  • The layout of the homes is not "encouraging a positive, psychologically informed environment".

As part of changes to the provision, the report suggests opening a new "hub" with emergency beds at Newbridge House and a new medium-term four bed house at Sunnybank.

The changes would also see the creation of a new team to deal with the growing demand for therapeutic services.

The report will be considered by councillors on Monday before the new model is put to the council's cabinet for approval.

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