Review of children's homesPublished Friday, 27th May 2016
The move to put more children in care with foster families is part of Rotherham Council's ambitious plans to overhaul its children's services.
As part of its improvement strategy the council is considering closure of two of its remaining three children's homes, so it meets aspirations for children in care.
Rotherham Council currently has three children's homes – Silverwood, providing long term care for youngsters with emotional and behavioural difficulties, Cherry Tree House and Liberty House – which both provide long term care and short breaks for children with disabilities.
Rotherham Council is on a significant improvement journey which has already seen major changes across many children's services.
As part of this children-centred borough vision, the council has reviewed its children's homes to assess whether they are fit for purpose.
Last year it closed two children's homes – St Edmunds and Woodview – after they failed to meet the high standards expected by the council.
This review makes it clear that both Silverwood and Cherry Tree House, although not deemed unsafe, do not provide the best possible homes for young people and that the council should now look to close them.
Families who use the homes, as well as staff, will be being consulted with over the possible closure.
Council Leader Cllr Chris Read said: "Our aspiration is to be a child–centred borough and what that means is that we put children at the heart of everything we do. This includes making sure as corporate parents that we place the children in our care in the best possible locations for them to be able to thrive and grow both as children and then onwards towards adulthood.
"In the case of Silverwood and Cherry Tree there is evidence of progress, including in terms of Ofsted ratings, but as far as we are concerned this has not moved far enough, fast enough,"cadded Cllr Read. "We needed a rapid rate of improvement and this simply has not happened despite everything we have tried to do to help."
Commissioner Bradwell said: "Rotherham still has too many children in residential care, as large numbers have been inappropriately placed over long periods of time in children's homes without looking sufficiently at other solutions. We want to move away from this and put these children instead in family based provision, like foster care and other family placement options."
A specialist manager has also been employed to provide assurance regarding the care currently provided to the two remaining residents within Cherry Tree House, until a final outcome has been decided. The remaining residents of Silverwood have already been found alternative accommodation.
The review is being published in order for the council's remit to be transparently understood by families and staff who are to be consulted with regarding potential closures. It will be considered by Cabinet and Commissioners on Monday, June 6 with a paper outlining proposals to close both Silverwood and Cherry Tree, but retain the well regarded provision at Liberty House. The quality of Liberty House is valued by families and has been consistently rated good by Ofsted.
The Commissioners and Cabinet are expected to agree a period of consultation over the future of the two children's homes. A further report on the outcomes of the consultation will be submitted for a final decision on the closure proposal later this year.