I am gratified at the response from readers to my article about setting up a residential home for children and young people. In answer to the many questions and enquiries I have put together a brief guide to the process.The first statement may appear to be contradictory: there are few opportunities for new providers to see their dreams reach fruition.
The economic situation in the country has re-defined the concept of need, care and safeguarding. In short, a lot of funding has been pulled out from local authority reserves and this has affected what can be offered to children in those areas. Even where there is limited funding available, most providers have had to join the circus called ‘tendering’ where you put together a proposal, which may or may not be read, never mind added to the short list.
Then, from those selected, a more detailed investigation ensues which looks closely into finances and viability, staffing arrangements, restrictions and limits placed on the type of youngster that will be accommodated, insurance, employer record and history of similar provision. The bottom line here appears to be that if you are new to this industry, forget it. Even where there has been mediocre to poor provision, local authorities are reluctant to bite the bullet and try a new organisation.
In the past, provision was made for children and young people wherever it was considered their needs would be best met. If that was in a local care provision all the better. If the child was ‘troublesome’ then sometimes they were accommodated as far away from home as possible so that they could have a fresh start or, if I am being cynical, so that their families had to make real efforts to visit them.
Currently because of the specific lack of available funds, the child is either accommodated locally or kept at home with additional supervision and monitoring support. What we know in theory is that some children should be kept at home and others stand a better opportunity of attaining their potential if they are free from the fetters of family.
Whilst this may be dependent on the actual difficulty or problem that the child experiences it certainly feels like a step backwards for the Government to announce that children and young people are a priority and then pull the financial rug from under their feet.
For those of you who wish to set up a home for children, you need to be very clear what type of problems or challenges you would be willing to manage on their behalf. You must go into this with eyes wide open. Do not assume that just because you want it to happen it will. I have met many individuals who for different reasons wanted to do this; some have been altruistic and others have seen this as a tax dodge. The bottom line is you will have to re-think.
• There is no available funding for new providers unless you are extremely lucky in your local area.
• You must already have a property, as there are few benefactors who will fund such a venture.
• If you do have a property, make sure it is small – three or four bedrooms maximum.
• Carry out detailed research in your area to see what may be available in terms of financial support or funding.
• Read about the Southwark judgement. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed36316
These articles will help you find the relevance of supporting fifteen, sixteen and seventeen-year-olds if that is what you wish to do. There is money here to help you.
• Look into supported lodgings for sixteen-plus youngsters who are leaving care or Youth Justice and who the local authority have a duty to care for. There is money here in the form of benefits and subsidies.
This may help you make your decision.
• Make contact with the local commissioner for children and young people and keep them on your side.
• Ask for advice and help from the different support and fostering agencies there are in your locality. Listen to what their needs are.
• Read articles by Jonathan Stanley. He is passionate about children and the care offered to them.
• Keep fighting to achieve what you wish to offer to the many children and young people who need your support and dedication.
If you require any further guidance or just someone to listen whilst you voice your plans, please contact me either through www.childrenwebmag.com or through my own website: www.valeriejacksonconsultancy.co.uk .