Two council children’s homes to be closed in Rotherham

TWO of Rotherham’s remaining three children’s homes will be closed as council bosses aim to increase the number of foster carers.

It would save £1 million a year and follows the closure of two other centres in the past seven months after critical reports from Ofsted inspectors.

Too many children have been wrongly placed in care homes without considering other options, Rotherham Borough Council has admitted.

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New proposals involve the closure of Silverwood children’s home at East Herringthorpe and Cherry Tree House at Masbrough.

Silverwood — rated as “good” by Ofsted — provides long-term care for youngsters with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

And Cherry Tree House, which inspectors said “requires improvement”, offers long-term and short breaks for children with disabilities.

Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “There is evidence of progress, including in terms of Ofsted ratings, but as far as we are concerned this has not moved far enough, fast enough.

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“We needed a rapid rate of improvement and this simply has not happened despite everything we have tried to do to help.”

St Edmunds at Thurcroft — which closed in October — posed a health risk to children, Ofsted said, and Woodview in Kimberworth Park was shut in January after being rated inadequate.

Children’s commissioner Patricia Bradwell added: “Rotherham still has too many children in residential care, as large numbers have been inappropriately placed over long periods of time in children’s homes without looking sufficiently at other solutions.

“We want to move away from this and put these children instead in family based provision, like foster care and other family placement options.”

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The Advertiser revealed last year how a lack of foster carers had contributed to Rotherham’s £17 million annual spend on placements for looked-after children.

A council spokeswoman said: “Silverwood and Cherry Tree House, although not deemed unsafe, do not provide the best possible homes for young people.

“The remaining residents of Silverwood have already been found alternative accommodation.

“The plans include moving the Nelson Street leaving care service to the leaving care accommodation at Hollowgate.

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“The last remaining childrens home, Liberty House, will be kept open for short breaks.”

Cabinet members and commissioners agreed a period of consultation at a meeting on Monday. A final report will follow.

q COUNCILLORS will discuss their aim of making Rotherham a child-centred borough following the CSE scandal.

Themes will include childrens rights, safety and health. A council spokeswoman said: “The ambition is to change the experiences of young people in Rotherham.”

Deputy leader Cllr Gordon Watson said: “Every child deserves the best start in life and this vision is about delivering this. We’ve begun to make many improvements.”

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