When we look at new areas to open our children’s homes, we are often shocked at the reaction some people have. We can understand that any construction site can cause annoyance. It can be loud, it can be bright, it can be messy; but when people reject the proposal because of the ‘types of children’ coming to live in their community, it feels personal. Because it is.
Children and young people are let down every time a children’s home being built is refused. There is a lot of planning, time and detail that goes into finding the perfect location for a children’s home to be set up.
We have many factors to consider when applying to register a home, especially finding the right place to either renovate or build in.
We will write about the important factors we consider soon, but for now, here are a few FAQs we are asked at things like parish council meetings by locals.
“What if they leave the house?”
Children over ten years of age are allowed to leave their home. This is the same for children in our care. However, like any family, should a child leave the house, unless the parents or in this case carers believe that the child is safe to leave home unaccompanied, can act responsibly, can use public transport, understands road safety, and can keep in touch with the home, the parents would be unlikely to allow them to travel unaccompanied. Just like you would with your children.
However, given that children over ten years of age can leave home at will, if the carers are not confident that the child can act responsibly, the child will be accompanied by a care staff member.
“How will the children be managed at the home?”
During day light hours there would usually be three staff on site so that the children would not be left in the care of one adult. A second question arises when a child cannot be followed by a care staff member effectively. It is then the duty of care staff to find the child, generally by following to places the child is likely to go, and by driving or walking until the child is found. Other care staff can be called-upon to join.
If a child was ever to go missing, there will be a protocol in place for care staff to follow that is individual to that child, considering their vulnerabilities and level of needs. In relation to this protocol the Police would be informed after a period, but not expected to bring the child home.
Should the police find the child (they are provided with photographs to help identify the child) then care staff would go and collect the child and bring the child home.
An additional question often asked relates to night-time absconding. This is extremely rare. Doors are alarmed so that any movement out of a bedroom is signalled, and windows are restricted.
Should a child leave at night (again this is almost unknown in many of our homes homes) a staff member would follow, and the home manager, who would live locally would usually come to site or another care staff member to ensure there are always two adults onsite. Again, it is the responsibility of care staff to keep an eye on the children until they are brought home again. Fears that children will roam around unsupervised are unfounded.
“Are the children dangerous?”
Perhaps we can start with the word children. They are not ‘feral’, ‘wild’, or ‘intent on doing harm’. They are not evil or bad. They are children who have been denied the chances freely open to other children. While there may be children who present a danger to society, they would not be placed in this type of home. It would not be appropriate, and Compass does not provide services for such children. We are more concerned that the children in our care may harm themselves.
It’s so important to remember at the other end of each planning permission request, and every construction site that is put up, that there are children waiting for a safe space to call their home.
If you would like to join the team or want to find out more about working in a residential children’s home, take a look at our jobs page here. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.