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Suffolk County Council under fire after children's home is rated 'inadequate'

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Fresh questions have been raised over the care of some of Suffolk’s most vulnerable children, following an ‘inadequate’ report for a council-run children’s home.

Education inspectors found a catalogue of issues at the home, which cannot be named for legal reasons, including frequent cannabis use, bullying, and serious incidents happening one after the other.

Education chiefs at Suffolk County Council, which runs the home, acknowledged standards there were not stringent enough, but now new questions have been raised over whether it is a wider issue.

Councillor Jack Abbott
Councillor Jack Abbott

Labour councillor Jack Abbott said: “This is an incredibly difficult report to read and it is deeply upsetting to think that children are living in this environment.

“This is not the first time we’ve read a report like this – not long ago two of Suffolk County Council’s children’s homes were rated as ‘inadequate’.

“Three more privately run homes were identified as having serious failures just last year. You have to wonder about the standard of care that is being given to some of Suffolk’s most vulnerable children.

“The county council is meant to be corporate parents, so the question I would ask is, ‘would you leave your children in the conditions that are described here, conditions that are detrimental to their physical and mental health?’. The answer is, of course, no.

“Clearly, rapid improvements need to be made here, but a wider review needs to happen to ensure that quality care and support is being provided in all children’s homes in Suffolk. We cannot keep failing vulnerable children like this.”

Councillor Mary Evans
Councillor Mary Evans

Mary Evans, Conservative cabinet member for children’s services and education at the county council said that a plan was in place to turn around the home.

“Suffolk County Council is absolutely a fit corporate parent. I am confident of the safety of children in our care and have visited this particular home myself to meet the staff and children.

“We have rapidly implemented an action plan to ensure improvements are made immediately.

“Two of our other children’s homes were also inspected recently and one has retained its ‘good’ rating with the other making significant improvements. Our other children’s homes are consistently rated good.

“As Councillor Abbott is aware over the past 18 months our children’s home have undergone a significant review which has led to an improvement programme which we are currently implementing.

“The programme involves significant improvements to the buildings, including bedrooms. The improvements also include better pay, training and development for staff, as well as improved staff to children ratios.

"We are also improving staff training to help better look after these complex young people."