Hull City Council made a commitment to caring for looked after children in local, home environments within a community setting, to contribute to better outcomes for those children and young people.
Investment was made into buying or building smaller homes in communities, to be able to home children in the city rather than in costly out of town placements.
Two smaller children’s homes were opened on Kingswood two years ago, with each home being able to care for two children at any one time. In total, ten young people have lived there and have seen good outcomes. Five of the young people have since gone on to live with foster carers and the experiences of young people, the local community and staff who work there has been very positive. These two homes are also rated as Outstanding by Ofsted.
Young people who have lived there said: “It’s not like a care home, it’s like a homely home, you’re own.”
“I like the house because we decorated a lot the last few years and put a family tree on the wall in the kitchen.”
“It has good staff and people really help me here. It’s just a really good place for me to be, because I really feel safe.”
“My street is really nice, the neighbours are really nice and we get along with them. I like it!”
A parent said: “I will be forever grateful for the support the whole team gave to me and my daughter.”
Mike Boddy, Group Manager for children’s homes said: “The smaller, community homes bring about better outcomes for children that live there; they integrate into the community, attend a local school, they can join local clubs and are able to see friends and family members. The homes look and feel like any other family home.
“We know when we opened the homes on Kingswood in 2019, that residents who lived in the area had some concerns, but I am really pleased that residents’ feedback has also been very positive.”
One neighbour said: “The home is fitting in so well within the community. I watch out of the window affectionately at the staff playing with the children, and I can tell that the staff are all committed and doing a fantastic job.”
In 2020, 44 young people were living in out of town agency placements which are costly to the council. The number has now reduced to 29 children in agency placements, and the council aims to reduce the number further.
Mike continued: “There will always be some children who do need to live outside the city, but for those we can look after locally we are working to do this. We now have 12 residential children’s homes across Hull, and ten are rated as Good or Outstanding.
“We have also been sharing our approach with other councils who are looking to move to a similar approach. Hull’s reputation is leading the way for community homes and is seen as a real success.”
Councillor Shane McMurray, portfolio holder for children’s services said: “In 2018, the council only had four children’s homes in the city. The move to more, smaller, local homes has been a game-changer for how we care for our looked after children.
“I’m delighted that the young people are benefitting, that local residents are happy, the cost to the council is less, and Hull’s approach is being recognised by other local authorities.”
Lucy Colman, Manager of the two homes in Kingswood said: “I feel immensely proud of all we have been able to achieve, and the positive impact on the young people we have cared for over the last couple of years. It has been such a privilege to be able to set up, register and staff our two beautiful homes in such a warm and welcoming community.
“Our vision has always been one of finding our looked after children a family, creating firm foundations and solid networks for their future. I have been very fortunate to get the support from colleagues and other professionals to make this happen. I am particularly proud of being able to return some of our children back to the city from across the country in agency placements.
“Recognition of the work we do has not only been noted by our outstanding judgements from Ofsted, but from neighbours, professionals and families we work with every day. The feedback makes me excited about how many other children’s lives we may be able to change in the future.”