Greater monitoring of young people in care is planned as Kirklees looks to re-open a children’s home closed due to child sexual exploitation and fire risks.
The Examiner reported earlier this week that Copthorne House in Bradley is to re-open In May, six months after it lost its Ofsted registration for safety reasons .
We discovered those safety reasons related to young people at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE), with some going missing and seen getting into cars with people unknown to staff.
Other safety concerns related to the high risk of a fire with children allowed to smoke in their bedrooms; children missed out on education; there was evidence of self-harm and illegal substances being used by the children and the monitoring was poor.
The home is for children aged 13 to 16 and there were six bedrooms, but that is to reduce to four when it re-opens.
Steve Walker, Director of Children’s Services, said a new management team were in place for when it re-opens.
He explained: “Kirklees Council is committed to ensuring that the children in its care are safe and supported. We were incredibly disappointed to learn of issues in the day to day running of Copthorne House and made the decision to temporarily close the home as soon as they came to light.
“The children who were living there at the time have been placed in alternative accommodation as close as possible to the care home so that they face as little disruption as possible.
“The welfare of the children remains the council’s highest priority and we have been working with Ofsted to put in place a plan that will allow us to reopen the home.
“We have addressed the issues with fire safety and have put in place a plan to reduce capacity to four beds so that we can provide more intensive care to the young people living in the home and as such reduce the risk of child sexual exploitation.
“The council continues to work closely with the police and other partners to identify young people who are at risk of CSE and put in place measures to protect them – and where relevant bring the perpetrators to justice.
“When the centre opens it will be under the leadership of a new management team who are aware of the previous issues and have a wealth of experience in supporting looked after children.
“Senior management have also put in place measures to ensure all our homes are more closely monitored to ensure the we are providing the best possible care for these vulnerable young people.
“The changes in management are part of the ongoing programme of improvement in Kirklees and include a new Head of Service for Corporate Parenting who has substantial experience in managing services for looked after children and young people and has been working closely with Ofsted to improve our residential services.
“Following a robust review of both the actions taken by Kirklees and proposals outlined for going forward, Ofsted have agreed that we are ready to re-open the home next month.”