Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Training to help me with visits to LCC children's homes

I have been doing some training to help me to be effective when I visit some of the 5 children's homes in our city.

All councillors are what is known as "corporate parents" for the children in care in the authority, whether they are in children's homes or more usually in foster care.

And there is a legal responsibility on us councillors to visit the children's homes monthly to ensure that our children are being properly cared for, particularly considering the five areas within the Labour Government Policy of Every Child Matters.

Wendy, Claire and I and a LibDem, Councillor Graham Hulme, spent a day learning more about the strategy to work constructively with children in difficulty, children expressing anger and frustration etc. It was very useful, particularly because we shared the training with foster carers so we heard some of their issues and problems first hand.

Today those of us councillors who have agreed to undertake CRB checks with a view to becoming formal visitors of our children's homes met and heard from the different children's homes managers about the nature of their homes and what we should be looking for on our visits.

I find it all very interesting. For instance, if you did not know about children's homes you might imagine that they house 100 kids each, whereas in reality most are more like family homes with half a dozen children living there with approximately the same number of staff.

We have five such homes and two of those specialise in respite care for children with profound learning difficulties or profound physical disabilities that mean their families need a rest periodically while they are looking after them.

The other homes tend to include children who have had difficult placements elsewhere in the system, for whom for instance foster care has not been the answer.

I am going to be visiting a home in Fairfield, which I wont mention because the children deserve their privacy and I am pleased that I now have a clear idea about what I should be looking for when I get there, to ensure that they are having the best possible care and the best possible outcomes.

It is an extremely important responsibility, more so than any other that a councillor undertakes and I am glad that I have an expert in Wendy to guide me.

No comments: