Child care shake-up plan for Lancashire

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Radical proposals aimed at cutting the number of children and teenagers in residential care are being considered by Lancashire County Council.

The plan, detailed in a 25-page report, would see the creation of a new Adolescent Support Unit to help 60 young people a year, the opening of a new crisis unit and an extended outreach service supporting 168 children and young people.

The new unit would provide overnight respite and intensive outreach support and could open in a former children’s home in the north of the county by December. If successful, two others could follow.

While it will cost an extra £1m between now and 2019 to set up the services, future savings could run into millions of pounds.

The savings are predicted following external consultant Newton Europe’s assessment that many youngsters could be kept out of care and others could return home with the right support.

The report advises that if the county does not shake up its existing service it risks more children needing to go into care and not having sufficient accommodation to meet needs.

Barbara Bath, head of the residential service at Lancashire County Council, said: “We are looking at how we can reshape our residential services so that we have the right places available to look after the increasing numbers of children and young people who are coming in to our care.

“As well as reducing the number of children who are looked after in residential placements, the strategy will help ensure that we can provide placements for all children and young people in our care, including those with very complex needs, while helping to control the cost of placements.”

The report is being discussed at a council cabinet meeting today.