Maples House: Concerns respite could be permanently reduced

Politics / Thu 25th Nov 2021 at 06:52pm

AN under threat short break respite home for children with learning difficulties and their families is to be used for emergency accommodation for children with disabilities.

Essex County Council is set to agree to change its Ofsted registration so Lavender House, Colchester, can be used for accommodation for looked after children under the age of 16 with disabilities in addition to overnight short breaks. 

This will be a temporary solution whilst longer term solutions are explored. 

Given that the council does not currently have access to any emergency regulated provision for children under the age of 16 with disabilities who enter crisis, it is looking to use Lavender House to increase its capacity.

Lavender House along with another in Harlow described as a “matter of survival” for families with severely disabled children was given a three year reprieve in 2019. 

There are concerns respite being offered by Essex County Council at Lavender House and Maples in Harlow, could be permanently reduced. 

Families with children with severe special needs had previously said their lives would be wrecked if it were not for the two vital centres in Harlow and Colchester. 

They currently provide overnight short breaks to children with learning difficulties so their families can get respite while providing experiences and opportunities to for the child. 

In the meantime officers are now exploring possible sites for emergency provision and the only available site at this time is Lavender House. 

Figures indicate the need is pressing – between April to September 2021 ECC made eight unregulated placements for looked after children under the age of 16, at an average cost of £8,000 per week. 

Lavender House which comprises three flats, a laundry room and an administrative area is currently registered with Ofsted to provide short break provision for up to 12 children but not for emergency placements. 

are currently being used for short breaks provision – the council is currently undertaking a review of its strategy for short breaks provision, which is due to be completed by December 2022 – the spare flat has been deemed sufficient to meet the demand for this provision. 

A decision statement for Cllr Beverley Egan, cabinet member for children’s services and early years to sign off on said: “It is therefore proposed that the Lavender House registration is varied with Ofsted to provide care and accommodation for one child to live permanently at Lavender House in The Chestnuts, if required, as well as to continue to accommodate children and young people under short breaks arrangements. 

“The registration of Lavender House for this purpose would only be until the outcome of the short breaks review is completed, or a longer term solution for accommodation for CWD is found, whichever is sooner. 

“This proposal has no impact on families that currently use Lavender House or on any unmet need for short breaks provision.”

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