Express & Star

Wolverhampton councillor: Why my council is providing homes for the city’s children

‘Corporate parent’ Wolverhampton Council is setting up two new homes for children. Cabinet member Councillor Chris Burden explains why.

Councillor Chris Burden says it is vital to treat all children as our flesh and blood

As a council, we always say it’s our priority for our children and young people to get the very best start in life.

That should be the case, whatever challenges they may face.

We see ourselves as a ‘corporate parent’, and by that we mean we believe our cared-for children and young people should be looked after as if they were our flesh and blood.

They should be receiving the best possible care and achieving the best possible outcomes.

There has been much coverage nationally about the lack of good quality residential placements for children and young people which are close to home – and currently some of our children and young people are placed as far away as Scotland.

This is not good for them, as they cannot be with their friends, their school and everything that is familiar to them.

Nor do we believe that it is good for the taxpayer – as the cost of placing children elsewhere is becoming increasingly expensive.

National legislation makes it clear that we councils must place children in care as close to home as possible.

In addition, placements are typically encouraged within residential settings, where young people can get involved in the community and lead safe, settled and ‘normal’ lives, with the help and support of qualified and experienced staff members.

And so, as a council, we were proud to approve plans to buy two family homes in the city, where we will be able to provide safe and loving environments to up to four children and young people in care, two in each property.

We know concerns have been raised by some local residents.

By way of reassurance, it’s important for readers to understand how these new family homes, which will be registered with Ofsted, will operate.

Both properties have previously been family homes.

And they will continue to be run in the same way, meaning there will be no more noise or activity than can be expected with any other family dwelling.

The children and young people will be cared for by a small group of specially trained and qualified staff who already have relationships with them.

And they will take on a de facto parenting role as corporate parents.

The needs of each young person will be carefully matched to ensure they are compatible with one another.

They will go to school, have friends round and go out as any other young person would.

We are investing in our children and our young people, because we believe it is the right thing to do.

If we don’t, we will be forced to keep placing our children with private companies, or out of borough.

With our own Family Homes, which we own together as a city, we can ensure that we have a future for our children. They will be in their own communities, and they will be cost-effective for the tax payer.

Any private company can open a children’s home wherever they want, and charge us whatever the market decides.

Instead, we will act as a city, look after our own, and ensure a better future.