Council defend care home policy

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COUNCIL chiefs have defended their care home policy after criticisms from charities who say private firms are failing to provide the necessary standards of care.

Following the recent Rochdale abuse scandal and a Department for Education report which revealed that seven of the 12 homes in the borough are privately run, the council is reassuring people that care is of the utmost importance.

Some 480 youngsters are cared for in homes across the borough and the council spends £3,100 per child per year on care provision, according to government figures.

The report by the DofE is the first time an audit of private-sector children’s care homes has been published, and was ordered following widespread failures by the private equity-backed home at the centre of the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal.

Anne Goldsmith, director for children and families at Wigan Council, said: “Ensuring all children placed in Wigan get the highest possible quality of care is important.

“We work closely with all residential care providers for children delivering training programmes, providing support, and sharing and embedding good practice.

“All placements within homes in Wigan have to be notified to us by the placing local authority as well as the homes themselves.

“We regularly liaise with the police and health partners to ensure any concerns about the children in the homes are picked up at an early stage and ensure both the homes and the placing local authorities have appropriate plans in place. We monitor the Ofsted inspection outcomes and will support the homes if there are serious concerns raised.

“The service delivered by our providers is overseen and reviewed by the Wigan Safeguarding Children Board. All children placed in the homes have regular reviews by the placing local authority and if they identify any concerns they will liaise with staff at Wigan Council.

“Any concerns or allegations regarding staff are reported into the Local Authority Designated Officer who oversees the actions taken and monitors the outcomes.

“The children placed in the homes often attend schools in Wigan as well as using the local health services, youth offending team and leisure opportunities, in these circumstances our usual safeguarding services for all Wigan residents would apply.”

In response to the report, Enver Solomon, director at the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Profit should never come before providing the best quality care possible for children who have often experienced great trauma in their lives.

“Some of these private providers have remained above public scrutiny until now. We need much more effective inspection arrangements to ensure they are providing quality of care.”