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Accommodation shortfall sees Gov spend £50k on hotels for care leavers

Accommodation shortfall sees Gov spend £50k on hotels for care leavers

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Accommodation shortfall sees Gov spend £50k on hotels for care leavers

Wednesday 26 January 2022


The Government spent more than £46,000 between 2020 and 2021 on hotel and temporary lets for young people leaving care because there isn't enough adequate accommodation available for them.

There are currently 79 care leavers aged between 18 and 25 being supported by Government.

However, there is only enough accommodation to house 61 individuals. The Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) Department provides 12 spaces for those aged between 18 and 21 in supported accommodation, as well as an additional four spaces for those aged 18 to 25 in independent living.  

Meanwhile, local charities provide 45 spaces. The Shelter Trust has 16, while the Jersey Association for Youth and Friendship (JAYF) provides a total of 26 across four different sites, some of which are for males or females only. 

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Pictured: There are a total of 61 spaces available for care leavers in the island.

While the Government said that outside of this, care leavers will live in independent accommodation provided by Andium Homes, fewer than five are currently residing in hotels.

Funding hotels and other temporary accommodation, such as Les Ormes, has cost the Government just over £4,000 so far this year.

In 2020 and 2021, they spent £46,627 on such accommodation.

In December, Children’s Services apologised and expressed “deep regret” for putting a care leaver into a hotel when he turned 18.

The admission was read in the Royal Court in December at the sentencing of Kahmal Ali Coughlan, who was given probation and an order to finish an existing community service order after importing cannabis. 

His lawyer, Advocate James Bell said Coughlan that when Coughlan had left a children’s home in the summer, it seemed like the key workers supposed to be supporting him had left finding new living arrangements for him until “the last minute.”

He went on to explain that Coughlan had then been moved from the care home into a hotel because “no better accommodation had been secured”.

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Pictured: There are currently 79 care leavers aged between 18 and 25 being supported by Government.

In response, the Children's Services wrote a letter saying that it was "a matter of deep regret that we have fallen short in our attempts to support Kahmal”, and that they were “truly very sorry” for what had happened.

Asked by Deptuy Mike Higgins to detail what he was doing to alleviate the problem, Children and Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden said his department was developing a ‘Sufficiency Strategy for Children in Care and Care Leavers’ with the help of Andium Homes, to include supported accommodation for Care Leavers. 

“Data is being analysed to help forecast future needs and requirements,” they added. “Any future Government Plan funding will be based on this analysis.”

The publication of the figures come amid concerns over the level of care and support provided to children in care.

Last week, Andrea Le Saint, a Senior Practitioner within the Office of the Children's Commissioner, told the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel that over the last five years Greenfields had gone from being relatively empty in previous years to recently being “consistently full”.

Over that period, she said that all but one of the children and young people sent to the children’s secure unit had already been in the care of the Children’s Minister, a statistic the Children’s Commissioner, Deborah McMillan described as “shocking”.

Ms Le Saint told the Panel that children were being sent to Greenfields for mental health issues, to have a 'secure' place to live, while they are awaiting sentencing by Youth Court, and as punishment for committing a crime.

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Pictured: The Care Commission has served an Improvement Notice regarding Greenfields.

Greenfields itself is under scrutiny with the Care Commission - a body responsible for assessing how well care providers look after residents and users of their services – having served an Improvement Notice to the Director General of the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES).

It followed a series of inspections earlier in the year and identified eight areas for improvement. The Commission noted how staffing levels were a “significant concern” with staff having reported they felt under “excessive amounts of stress” and so tired it was having an adverse impact on their wellbeing.

Other areas for improvement included education provision, which has experienced “significant challenges”, and the home environment, described as “stark and not homely."

Meanwhile, in September 2021, Children’s Services said they did not have “sufficient on-island care settings for children in the care of the Minister”.

“That’s meant they had to establish care settings outside of the regulation and they placed children in children’s home outside of their statement of purpose,” Mrs McMillan added.

However, the Government refused to use Hope House, a facility set up by drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, Silkworth in the former Brig-Y-Don children’s home to provide a four-week therapeutic residential programme for young people experiencing emotional distress or struggling with addiction, mental health issues and eating disorders, because it was registered to deliver "a specific 28-day programme".

Since then, the charity has been forced to close Hope House.

Its CEO, Jason Wyse, explained in a statement: “Without the same buy in and support of Government and in particular, CYPES, that was originally given to us before we proceeded with this project, it has become impossible for us to continue."

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