Hertfordshire County Council draw up £1.5m plans for ‘campus’ for separated migrant children
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COUNTY council officials have drawn-up £1.5m plans for a new ‘campus’ for the county’s increasing number of separated migrant children.
Currently the council is caring for 163 separated migrant children, who are mostly over 16 years old.
And they are supported in placements across the county that include foster care and ‘semi-independent residential settings’.
But now county council budget papers have revealed cost-cutting plans to develop a new ‘campus’ for up to 60 separated migrant children, all aged 16 to 18.
It could also be used by some young people leaving care in Hertfordshire and those who ‘struggle’ to access mainstream provisions.
As well as accommodation, the ‘campus’ would include classrooms, IT suites, sports facilities and community facilities, ‘with a range of other services on site’.
And budget documents say that it would bring ‘all the essential elements of their care together into one place’ – as well as cutting costs.
“Having a larger site will allow for more space to develop classrooms, IT suites, sports facilities, community facilities, and to host a range of other services on site,” says the report.
“Acting as an education, health and community hub, this provision will bring all the essential elements of care together into one place, enable support to be tailored to the needs of those on site as well as reduce the current costs of supporting young people to access these services within the community.”
According to the council’s budget papers – known as the Integrated Plan – the number of separated migrant children being cared for by the county council in Hertfordshire is increasing.
The current figure of 163 is reported to be 20 per cent higher than in March (2023) – and 60 per cent higher than in March 2022.
And, says the county council report, the £12m funding received for their care is ‘currently insufficient’ – covering only ‘costs of provision’.
However estimates in the budget papers suggest the proposed campus – which would require £1.5m investment – could cut annual costs by around £879k a year.
Commenting on the plan a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “In Hertfordshire we are striving to increase the numbers of care leavers and vulnerable children who are accessing education, employment and training opportunities so that they can lead fulfilling lives and contribute to our community.
“We are proposing a campus which is a centre of excellence for separated migrant children aged 16-18, bringing together a range of services to provide education, vocational courses, living and life skills and health services and some accommodation.”