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Caerphilly Politics South Wales

Green light for council to purchase £1.1m children’s home for teenagers leaving care

Caerphilly County Borough Council offices (Pic: LDRS)

A NEW children’s home is set to open in Newbridge for teenagers leaving care.

Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet approved the plans at a meeting on Wednesday January 17.

Sean Morgan, the council leader, said the proposal was something “to celebrate” and would “give our care leavers some surety in their lives”.

Once the sale has been completed and any refurbishments carried out, the nine-bedroom home will be staffed 24 hours a day “to ensure support is available” for its young residents, Elaine Forehead, the cabinet member social care, said.

Cllr Elaine Forehead (Pic: CCBC)

A report notes the council’s children’s services department is “under growing demand for accommodation options for young people aged 16 to 18 years”.

The property had been valued independently at £1.05 million, but an initial bid at that price was rejected, Cllr Forehead said.

A deal was then agreed for £1.1m, and the Welsh Government will contribute the vast majority of the funding, but is “only able to fund up to the level of the market value”.

That means the council will have to pay the remaining £50,000 of the asking price, and will take that money from its social services department’s reserves.

Carol Andrews, the cabinet member for education, told colleagues there had been “negative comments” from other councillors about children’s homes opening “in their wards” elsewhere in the county borough.

Gareth Jenkins, Caerphilly’s acting director for social services, said the council’s “corporate parenting” work was one of the most important functions of the local authority.

He also urged councillors to encourage residents to consider becoming foster carers.

The area’s provision for young people in care is set to increase further when a new-build development in Rhymney – which includes a children’s home – is completed, Mr Jenkins said.

“We should be in a position where we’ve got enough provision” for looked-after children, he added.

Cllr Forehead told the meeting the council was “committed” to providing “high-quality” accommodation for children in care.

Ensuring there was enough provision in Caerphilly was “absolutely the right thing to do”, Cllr Morgan added.