A mammoth task to replace Bristol’s large, institutional children’s homes with smaller family houses has been launched.
Many youngsters in care have had to be sent away from the city over the years because of the problems associated with the outdated 1960s premises and growing up in big groups of other kids with complex needs.
The city council is now changing the type of home where its looked-after children will stay, with two and three-bedroom properties eventually replacing all the older homes.
Cabinet members on Tuesday agreed to buy the first such house for £545,000, which covers the purchase, legal fees, taxes and refurbishment.
Helen Godwin, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Bristol City Council is one of relatively few councils that retains and maintains its own children’s homes.
“Most of the homes we have are typical 1960s houses. They’re larger houses, often on council estates, and they have four or five bedrooms for young people and additional bedrooms for staff.
“As times have changed, the needs of our children in care have also changed.
“Many children now have more complex histories and find it harder to thrive and to be happy living in large groups along with other children with complex needs.
“Many of our children have told us they would prefer to live in a smaller home.
“We also have children who we’ve had to move outside of Bristol because they’re not able to live in these bigger homes.
“The intention, over time, is to replace our large children’s homes with more typical small family homes.”
She said a property at an undisclosed location had been identified with the approval of Ofsted.
The decision follows a budget amendment tabled last year by city council Green group leader Eleanor Combley.
Combley told the cabinet meeting: “Looking after our children in care is one of the most important responsibilities we have as councillors.
“Sometimes children have been sent to homes as far as 20 miles or more from the Bristol area because Bristol’s current children’s homes are too large and not suitable for their needs.
“We know that for most children in care it is better to be closer to home, near their family and communities and where they can be supported by local social workers.”
Adam Postans is a local democracy reporter for Bristol
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