Felixstowe: County’s bed shortage for disabled children

4:00 PM October 10, 2022

New plans to combat a shortage of residential care placements in the county would save the council just under £250,000 per year.

Felixstowe Residential Center in Ferry Road would be used as accommodation for children and young people with disabilities under new plans on the agenda for the next Suffolk County Council Cabinet meeting.

The center would include three residential and two shared care beds, where care is shared between the local authority and parents.

The building is currently used for short breaks for disabled children and, under these new plans, this would continue to take place.

Currently, there are only three children’s homes in Suffolk – two private providers and one Council commissioned provider – which offer a total of 16 beds for disabled children.

Seven children with severe and profound needs are currently placed out of county, costing an average of £2.35m per annum.

The average weekly cost of purchased residential home placements for disabled children has increased by almost a third over four years to £4,300 per week and the agenda noted: “This in part reflects many local authorities chasing a limited supply of places.”

With the full-time cost of shared care at £3,006 per week, a saving of £2294 per child is made meaning the development offers the potential of saving £238,500 per year.

The proposed cost of construction is £2 million which would be funded through borrowing, with Children and Young People’s Services paying £102,000 per annum for the next 30 years.

The plans were put forward by Councilor James Reeder, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, and Felixstowe Coastal councilors Graham Newman and Steve Wiles.

If they are approved at the Suffolk County Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 11, the build would commence immediately with the target for operational provision being Spring 2024.

In terms of alternative options, the agenda item noted: “If we do not have suitable provision in Suffolk, we will continue to place these children out of Suffolk, at great expense, and at considerable distance from their families, which will have significant impact on families, the public purse, and the climate change emergency ambition, with families traveling great distance to visit.”

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