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Children's Homes in Cornwall Under Threat

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12:54pm 15th October 2013

There is anger as cuts threaten two children's homes in Cornwall.

St Christopher's in Redruth and Lowenna Redwing in Truro provide respite care for children with disabilities and their families.

Now they could be closed, to save money.

Stuart Cullimore from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance told Pirate FM: "What it's doing is pushing the cuts down onto the people who are doing their best to care in difficult circumstances. I think it is another absolutely appalling cut hitting the most vulnerable in our community.

"They're relying on people's good hearts to look after these children, to look after the vulnerable in the community. We should have a safety net for these people not be kicking them for the good work that they are doing in the community.

The council says it is consulting parents and realises any change can be unsettling. A statement said: "The Council runs six units which provide overnight residential short breaks for approximately 163 disabled children and young people across Cornwall.   We recognise the importance of short breaks for children and young people and for their parents and carers and, unlike many other local authorities facing severe reductions in budgets, have continued to fund a wide range of short breaks.  

"We currently spend approximately £10.5 million on services to support children with special educational needs and disabilities.  While the overall budget available to Children's Services has been reduced by over £17 million in the last four years, the Council has maintained this budget and is currently one of the highest spending authorities in the country in this area.  Unfortunately, with further reductions in Government funding and increased demands for services requiring the Council to save a further £196 million by 2019, we are being forced to review a number of the services we currently provide to children and young people.
"The recent review of the residential short break services noted that the service meets the needs of a relatively static population of children and has high unit costs in comparison with national averages.  We need to innovate in terms of how we use our residential short break service to ensure the limited and reducing resources we have meet the needs of as many disabled children as possible.

"One of the recommendations from the review is to close St. Christopher's / Lowenna Redwing. While we recognise that this would have a significant impact on the families who use these units and the staff who work there, this proposal is considered to be the least disruptive in terms of service provision.  If a decision is made to close these units, a full assessment of the needs of all affected children would be carried out before any change took place.

"We recognise that any change is unsettling and will ensure that any proposed change to services goes through extensive, open and transparent consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.  We are at the very beginning of this process.  Letters have been sent to the parents of the children who attend these units inviting them to attend an informal meeting to discuss the recommendations.  Informal meetings are also being held with affected staff.  

"The results of this informal consultation will then be reported to a formal meeting of the Children and Young People Portfolio Advisory Committee on 11 November. Further consultation will then be carried out with families and staff before final proposals are presented to the Cabinet in January 2014 when a decision will be made. "


12:54pm 15th October 2013

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