Councillors to examine outsourcing Essex children’s homes

Proposals to outsource residential children’s homes in Essex are to go before councillors tomorrow. The council’s cabinet will be asked to vote on plans that could see seven children’s homes either sold to private providers or closed altogether.

In the officer’s report that will be presented to the council’s cabinet tomorrow afternoon it states: “This report sets out proposals to outsource the authority’s seven children’s residential homes to achieve savings. The report suggests that if a suitable external provider cannot be found for any or all of the homes, they will have to be closed and the staff put at risk of redundancy and the children moved to alternative placements. In this event, it is important that there is full consideration of all costs, and appropriate budget provision made.”

Leverton Secure Unit and Leverton House, are the only units that will be saved under the plans.

In December 2008, Essex council became the first authority to introduce a social pedagogy system in its children’s homes, a system of theory, practice and training that supports the overall development of the whole child.

The report set to be debated by councillors adds: “Clearly, a considerable proportion of the costs currently deployed to deliver in-house provision will be required to offset an increase in use of external residential places on closure or transfer. However, we are also developing a range of strategies, services and resources that will enable us to reduce our reliance on residential placements, and these will generate savings in the longer term.”