Wrexham Council to buy up properties to ensure children in care stay within Wrexham
Wrexham Council is to buy up properties to ensure that children taken into care can stay within the county borough.
At the council’s Executive Board meeting next week, members will be asked to support the use of Welsh Government funding to purchase properties, enabling children to stay close to their local community and avoid being placed out of county.
The proposal is for the authority to purchase and adapt four properties over a four year programme at a cost of £2.5m. The properties will be small residential homes accommodating two or three children at a time.
In a media briefing ahead of next week’s meeting, lead member for Children’s Services, Cllr Rob Walsh said the proposal could make a big difference to children taken into care.
He said: “We’ve had funding from Welsh Government to invest in our ‘Care Closer to Home’ project which is to reduce the number of out of county placement we have.
“When children become looked after by the council it is always stressful for them. We’ve always gone by the view that if we can’t keep children in their immediate or extended families, then we will try to keep them in their communities.
“Out of county placements are a last resort. Not only are you taking (children) away from their family but their communities.
“This project, where we purchase homes for children to be cared for, will keep them in the county and as close to their community as possible.
“Keeping children as close to home as possible will help them as they make their journey into adulthood.”
Investing in this project and reducing out of county placements will save the council money but Cllr Walsh stressed that the main reason it is happening is for the children’s wellbeing.
Two properties have already been purchased which will be ready shortly and the council is looking for support to buy four more properties over the next few years. The homes will be council owned and council run.
Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of the Council, added: “We shouldn’t be sending children out of county but in the past we’ve had to as we didn’t have the funding or resources. We have an opportunity to put that right.
“Now the money is here, local children going into care can stop in Wrexham and we want to help support them.”
Wrexham Council’s Executive Board meets next Tuesday (September 27).
By Rory Sheehan – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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