Placement of Luton's looked after children in Glasgow is not acceptable, says Mayor as new home is approved

There's a shortage of available foster care or children's shared living accommodation in the Borough

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 3:32 pm

Looked after children from Luton are placed as far away as Glasgow which is unsatisfactory, according to the town mayor.

Local authorities everywhere are facing such decisions because of a shortage of available foster care or children's shared living accommodation, warned Labour Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain.

He tackled the issue at a meeting of its development management committee, which approved full plans for a children's home in Stockingstone Road.

Luton Town Hall
Luton Town Hall

Applicant Aneka Reid was granted permission to convert and change the use of a detached house in multiple occupation (HMO) between Old Bedford Road and Wychwood Avenue.

Councillor Hussain said: "I strongly support this because we need more of these. That's something I would like to have with children living closer to home and to their families.

"Some of the children we're sometimes placing are as far as Glasgow, and that's not satisfactory and isn't good for the child or for the family.

"This is the situation in every local authority. Luton is no different because there are a shortage of places up and down the country.

"Some children need special care and in those cases they need to be placed not too far away so they can keep in touch with their families."

The property is currently vacant and would cater for a maximum of five children aged 11 to 18, with two staff on shift at all times, according to a report to the committee.

"The proposed use wouldn't materially change how the building is used," said the report.

"Each child will have their individual bedroom and shared kitchen, living room and bathroom facilities as a single household."

There were four objections with concerns the project would "generate more movement".

Ms Reid, of Strive and Succeed Limited, described it as a residential children's home which caters for children "who through no fault of their own have ended up in social care".

It can "provide a stable environment within the local community to foster continuity and ensure they're safeguarded", she told the committee.

"As a foster carer of many years, it's my intention and the mission of my team to ensure we care and protect the children placed with us." she explained.

"It allows them to have their social, emotional and physical needs acknowledged and satisfied wherever possible.

"The young people will be treated in a manner to allow them to retain their dignity at all times.

"A lot of our young people have had to witness things a child's eye should never have to see.

"Our young people have the right to make choices about their own lifestyle and exercise personal independence on all possible occasions.

"I ask that we give our young people a chance at life. Our slogan is changing the future one child at a time.

"We extend our service to a children's home so we can provide a fulfilling life for them to thrive," she added.

"I ask you to help me to help our community do just that."

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks asked; "What's different about the circumstances of these children that they're not in standard foster care?"

Ms Reid replied: "Not all children can be placed in foster homes simply because they need a higher level of care.

"And there's not enough provision to do so. I've recruited many foster carers and despite that there's still a need for children's homes.

"Some children and young people need a one-on-one service."