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Care facilities demand

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Care facilities demand

OPENING new residential care facilities for young people in this region should be a priority for Dumfries and Galloway Council, it has been argued.

Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward, who has previously called for the council to open and operate its own children’s care facilities, raised the urgent issue again at last Thursday’s social work committee.

This was in response to a report that the council is spending a fortune of taxpayers’ money on private childcare placements outwith the region. The bill for residential childcare in the next financial year is projected to be £6.1m – £1.7m more than expected.

Council chiefs admit they are in a crisis situation and Councillor Dorward is demanding that council-run care facilities should be created “sooner rather than later.”

She said: “This is about our young people and our children. We, as a council, agreed to close down one care home before covid.

“I think we should give urgent attention to this. This challenge isn’t going to go away any time soon.”

She added: “Can we look at pushing this forward as a priority?”

Stephen Morgan, the council’s interim chief social work officer, said: “It’s a very important point, and it’s not something that we’re ignoring.

“But to establish a residential facility does take quite a long time in terms of land availability, building, or converting a building – which is almost unheard of in the modern world of residential childcare.

“We need to do something now, and that’s why we’ve highlighted the dedicated need for a kinship care team, a regeneration of intensive foster care, and also the introdcution of intensive support to meet the needs that’s there now.”

Mr Morgan then revealed that social work teams have also identified another 23 young people who are “on the brink of additional support out of the family home”.

This would result in the council having to shell out even more money on the high-cost private residental care placements.

He told Councillor Dorward: “I feel your frustration – and I share your frustration in terms of where we are.

“But it is something that we’re working on, and won’t be ignored.”

Councillor Dorward responded: “I totally appreciate we have capacity issues. I understand why you want to promote the more preventative work so that we won’t have so many young people in care.”

But she then requested that timescales are provided for bringing forward potential options for a council-run residential care facility.

It was agreed that this would be included in a future report within the next six months.

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