Plans backed for new children's home in Hartlepool
Councillors have backed plans to provide a new children’s home in Hartlepool, along with replacement accommodation for a current site.
Hartlepool Council operates three children’s homes at present, which provide a permanent home for eight children, and short break care for children who have additional needs.
However the council is now looking to provide a fourth home, to provide more care for children in need, along with replacing their current St David Walk Children’s Home, which is rented and “very small.”
It comes after the number of children in the council’s care increased from 278 in 2017/18 to 360 for 2021/22.
Councillors on the Finance and Policy Committee on Wednesday selected an option to purchase one new property and use an existing council owned building to provide the new children’s homes.
Of the two homes, one will have the capacity for three children, and one for four.
Cllr Shane Moore, council leader and committee chair, said at the meeting the option would allow them to move quickly and start to improve the offer for children needing care.
“It is an asset that is already within the council’s ownership, it would allow us to move quite quickly on that and get us up and running sooner,” he said.
“I think it has the potential of returning long-term more for the authority should it be sold in the future.”
Sally Robinson, director of children’s and joint commissioning services, added officers have reported positively on using the existing council owned building for one of the homes.
She said officers have informed her the site is “an ideal location” and would “provide a good home” for children.
The estimated acquisition and conversion costs for the two children’s homes is £850,000, which would equate to annual loan repayment cost of £32,000.
However council officers stressed providing an additional home will be more cost effective than funding external placements out of town.
Cllr Jim Lindridge, chair of Children’s Services Committee, said: “If we don’t put this in place then it’s going to put a financial burden on the children travelling out of town.”
Council officers had previously looked at renting sites, but have now noted the best “long-term solution” may be to own the properties in these cases.
It is proposed to fund the costs through prudential borrowing, and the decision to do this will go before Full Council later this week for final confirmation.