COVENTRY city councillors have approved approved plans to create a new home in the city for children who are looked after by the authority and have a disability.
Currently – after the closure of the only appropriate privately run home in the city boundary – any child with a disability has to live outside Coventry.
There is a national shortage of homes for children with disabilities and councillors said there was a need to create something in the city to ensure children were given the best possible care and start in life.
At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, members voted to refurbish a current vacant building in the city and work will also start to investigate the possibility of building a new home.
The project will cost £1million which the council hoped a Government grant would help pay for.
But when that was refused the decision was made to fund the much-needed building through borrowing and council reserves.
Councillors heard the plans would mean looked after children with disabilities were given the best care and kept close to their homes.
The council currently runs five children’s homes, all judged ‘good’ by Ofsted. One of these is a short break home for four children with disabilities.
Coun Patricia Seaman, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “In Coventry we are determined that all children are given the very best start in life and we have an excellent team who help to look after those who come into our care.
“Recently we have become aware of the pressing need for a home in the city for children with disabilities.
“It is not right that they should have to move from their city and from the excellent care of Council staff and this decision will mean that children will not have to live at a great distance from their family.
“It is the right decision for the children and their families and it is the right decision for the city.”
The decision was taken after consultation with young people, their families, partner agencies and organisations representing families who have children with disabilities.
Overwhelming feedback highlighted the need for local provision for children in care with disabilities as some had been forced to move considerable distances to have their needs met.
It makes continued contact with their families difficult and can disrupt schooling and health provision.
It also means children with complex needs are having to cope with significant changes in their lives.
Young people remaining in the city where their families are means their loved ones can be better involved in the care planning and work with local professionals to best meet the child’s needs.
It also saves in transportation and social worker time and makes visiting the children quicker and easier.