Consultation Begins On Closure Of 5 Children’s Homes

Birmingham City Council have begun constulation over the possible closure of five childrens homes in Birmingham, as part of the cuts to the council’s 2012 budget.

The homes are Chamberlain Road in Billesley, Fountain Road in Harborne, Kings Lodge in Oscott and South Acre and Viscount House, which are both in Dudley. GMB say their closure will cost 170 jobs, and the council expect to save £3m.

However, the last time they closed children’s homes it ended up costing 41% more with some of the most vulnerable people in Birmingham being sent to care homes hundreds of miles away from their city.

Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Coun Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services, said:

For the vast majority of looked-after children, it is far better they grow up in a settled family environment as this improves their life chances, both emotionally and in terms of educational achievement.
However, there will be a small number whose needs are better suited to residential care and we will be concentrating our resources in fewer children’s homes in order to focus on the needs of these young people.

Tom from Birmingham Against the Cuts said:

The council expect an increase in fostering to cover for the loss of homes for children in care, but they are also cutting the budget for fostering by £1m so it’s not at all clear how they think this will happen. Nonetheless, they have set an “ambitious target” to increase the number of foster families by 50% – from 600 to 900 in order to cover the loss of these 5 homes. When this doesn’t happen, they will instead pay far more to house these children far away from the city they have grown up in, something which may have a devastating affect on someone who really needs stability and security in their life.

Recent threats to close Charles House and Cambourne House were seen off following campaigns led by parents and supported by local anti-cuts activists. Both these houses provided respite care for disabled children – the big worry with the homes now under threat is that the children in care who will be affected do not have parents that will campaign for them.
It is therefore even more important that their communities – the people of Birmingham – stand up and stop these closures, to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our city.

If you leave near any of the homes under threat, please write to your councillor and ask them to explain how they expect to house these children with foster parents whilst also cutting the fostering budget, and why they think this move will not end up costing more money, as it did last time Birmingham City Council closed children’s homes.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Consultation Begins On Closure Of 5 Children’s Homes

  1. steve

    so your main concern is the cost to the City Council?

    • No, our main concern is the effect it will have on the children concerned.
      The likely additional cost to the council is relevant though given that they reason for the closure is to save money and in my opinion the most likely argument to make with councillors that will actually get them to stop the closures.

  2. Reblogged this on Gogwit's Blog and commented:
    All Birmingham children should be brought up in a stable and safe environment. Ideally this should be in a family or family-like situation. For the small numbers for whom this is not possible, either in the short or in the longer term it seems reasonable to provide facilities to support and care for them. Of course, the history of such provision in Birmingham is a vexed and emotive subject, all the more reason why the provision should be adequately resourced.
    I do wonder why Birmingham is maintaining resources outside Birmingham. I am not aware of the reasons for BCC running facilities in Dudley and I wonder why their continued operation is not secured by Dudley Council.
    The cost of £3 million – what impact will that really have on the Budget? Set against the jobs lost with the direct and indirect, financial, social and human costs that will entail, set against the costs of failing the most vulnerable.

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  4. David Graham

    Does anybody connected here have any details of the consultation – is it public and who is leading? The Care Leavers Association is interested in supporting those who are against the closure of the homes. The local authority has a statutory duty to provide for all children in care – this includes suitable placements. A lot of young people in care are best placed in residential care rather than foster care.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for getting in touch – I’m afraid I don’t have any details for the consultation, but I’ve asked people at Unison and GMB to see if they know – it may be worth contacting Brigid Jones directly, as she is the councillor responsible for it.

      I don’t know what the response will be from campaigning organisations in Birmingham, but we have worked previously to prevent the closure of children’s homes here and I’m sure there will be some kind of campaign again, and I’ll definitely be in touch with you about it.

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  6. Here at The Care Leavers’ Association we facilitate a networking project, which is open to care leavers of all ages (18 – 88 and beyond). We hold meetings across the country and have active networks in Leeds, Manchester and London. We cover a number of issues, one of which is ‘Types’ of care, residential or foster care and the majority (indeed the significant majority) feedback that decisions on residential or foster care should not be based on financial considerations but based on individual need. What is right for the child should come before what is right for the finances. We would be keen to hold a meeting in Birmingham for care leaver to come together and discuss these important issues, seeking a route to policy makers in order that they are persuaded to take on board a user perspective to their austerity measures aimed at out most vulnerable young people. You can get me on darren.coyne@careleavers.com or 07904485921.

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