'Amazing' secure children's home scheme aims to help young people 'transition' back into the community
An innovative new scheme could be launched at a secure children’s home in to help young people transition back into their communities.
Aycliffe Secure Centre, which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, provides a secure and caring home for young people between the ages of 10 and 18 with a range of complex problems and vulnerabilities.
This includes young people in County Durham sentenced or remanded by the Youth Custody Service and those accommodated for their own safety.
One of the centre’s priorities includes supporting every child and young person to “transition and re-settle successfully into their community.”
As part of this aim, care bosses are hoping to build a ‘transitions home’ to help young people as they embark on this journey.
The scheme aims to promote independence and to help place children who may have difficulty finding “moving-on placements” due to their previous history.
“What we want to be able to do is move our young people out of secure into a community home that is attached to secure, where they will leave via the front door just like any other child at any other home and go to school, college or work,” said Selwyn Morgans, manager of Aycliffe Secure Centre.
“They will build on the relationships and the journey that they have already achieved in secure and they might only be there for up to six months, they may be there longer depending on what their needs are.
“But actually it’s for the young person then to be able to demonstrate that they can live in the community safely and it gives their local authority the opportunity to be able to relocate them properly.”
Mr Morgans was speaking at a recent meeting of Durham County Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel on December 18, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.
He added: “What we know is that throughout the country, secure children’s homes are struggling with local authorities being able to find them a placement.
“What that means is that sometimes kids stay locked up when they shouldn’t be locked up, and that’s not acceptable, or sometimes young people leave us and they have done really really well and then they dump them back where all the problems were in the first place and wonder why they go back to where they came from.”
The transitions home would include rooms for four young people with en-suite facilities and would be built adjacent to the front of Aycliffe Secure Centre.
Care bosses are hoping to secure full or partial funding from the Department for Education to help progress the scheme, with an update expected in March 2021.
If the scheme gets the green light, councillors were told, Aycliffe would be the only secure children’s home in the country to offer such a service.
Councillor Ivan Jewell, chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel, said the proposed scheme was “amazing.”
“I really do hope that we can push forward on that and give our young people an even better deal than they have now, “ he added.