The Government was planning to open its own therapeutic facility for children the month before another one run by a local charity announced it was being forced to close due to lack of referrals from Government, it has emerged.
For many years, the Royal Court – which is asked to make decisions about the care of vulnerable children – has expressed concerns about the lack of such a facility in Jersey, which has led some children to be sent to the UK.
Hope House, which was set up at the former Brig-y-Don home by drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity Silkworth following a £250,000 investment, had hoped to cater for some of these children when it opened in March this year.
However, by the end of last month, it announced that it would be closing at the end of December because it wasn’t getting enough referrals from the government.
Silkworth founder Frank Laine MBE and CEO Jason Wyse expressed concerns that the Government may be “gatekeeping” while it endeavoured to set up its own facility.
Pictured: Silkworth spent £250,000 and five years on the creation of Hope House.
Now a recently-published judgment relating to the care of a vulnerable child has shown how, in September, the Government’s Director of Safeguarding and Care Mark Owers told the Royal Court that a facility was expected to be set up by the beginning of October.
Asked about the therapeutic provisions available locally, Mr Owers said a preferred site for a specialist facility had been selected, and that cash had been secured to get it up and running with a dozen staff.
Summarising Mr Owers’ evidence, the judgment read: “The Government of Jersey currently has four children’s homes registered with the Jersey Care Commission to provide support for young people from 12 to 18 years of age but none are registered as therapeutic environments, but it was the intention to provide a children’s home with therapeutic support for which funding had been secured.
“A suitable property had been located, but there were a number of bureaucratic steps that needed to be gone through and some 12 staff to be engaged and trained to provide 24/7 care. It was hoped that such a home would be established by the beginning of October 2021.”
However, the project appears to have been delayed or put on hold, as no such facility has been opened.
At the time of the judgment’s publication last week, Express asked the Government why the home did not open as planned, how much funding has been earmarked for the project, where the preferred home location is and whether the property has been bought, and whether staff have successfully been recruited and trained. A response is yet to be received.
Speaking at a recent Scrutiny meeting, Health’s Director General Caroline Landon said that Hope House had come “too early”, but said that the facility may have a future as healthcare reforms as part of the Jersey Care Model get underway.
"I think Hope House was a great facility, I had the pleasure of seeing it and I think it very much had a place within the delivery of island health care but it’s just working through what that place was but from our perspective," Ms Landon said. "It was a great facility with lots and lots of potential."
When Deputy Gardiner asked why it hadn't worked out and why the facility had been lost, the health boss said it had come “too early” and that a need might later be identified as the Jersey Care Model – a new healthcare model that prioritises care in the community rather than institutional settings – is implemented.
"From HCS perspective, we didn’t have any provision we could necessarily put in there for an acute perspective. I think Hope House came a bit too early for HCS as we move down care model absolutely I think we could provision service within there but we didn’t have any services within HCS that we were able to move there.
Some – including leading local children’s rights lawyer Advocate Darry Robinson – had previously suggested that Hope House should be used as an alternative to Greenfields, a youth detention facility which had been used for children in emotional distress during the pandemic.
Ms Landon said she had not been involved in conversations around the use of Hope House in this way – Health is responsible for over-18s’ mental health provision, while children’s mental health services fall into CYPES’ remit – but said that there wasn’t any requirement for the facility within adult care.
She then said it could "absolutely" and "definitely" could be included going forward as the department moves towards the Care Model.
Express spoke to Silkworth CEO Jason Wyse about his concerns that Government 'gatekeeping' is stopping the island's most vulnerable children access the best quality therapeutic care...
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