Ipswich children's home to close

A CHILDREN'S home in north east Ipswich is on course to close in November as part of a social services modernisation programme.Oak Cottage, in Crabbe Street, will move to new premises near Martlesham when the remaining children have been found suitable carers.

A CHILDREN'S home in north east Ipswich is on course to close in November as part of a social services modernisation programme.

Oak Cottage, in Crabbe Street, will move to new premises near Martlesham when the remaining children have been found suitable carers.

This is in line with long-term Suffolk County Council policy to create more family-style settings through foster homes along with salaried carers for the most vulnerable children.

The new setting, called Woodman's Place, will function as a short-term assessment and accommodation centre with the aim of re-uniting children with their families and providing support for foster carers.

Tash Nekrews, team leader at Oak Cottage, which provides care for six children at any one time, said: "There are some things about long-term care in this set-up which do not work so we are looking to offer a more individual package.

"The day-to-day care will still be the same but for a shorter amount of time. There is also the option of offering support to the carers because they will be directly linked with us."

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She added: "It will be more satisfying for us because the aim will be to find a home for the children as quickly as possible. The frustration with the jobs comes when you can see the potential in the kids, but they can't see it themselves."

The children will be looked after by a pilot multi-agency team which can mobilise specialist help quickly for each child.

This will see social services, the county council's education and youth offending team, Connexions and the NHS work as one unit.

A spokesman for social services said: "Suffolk County Council is making good progress on tripling the number of these local foster care places to try to keep children locally accommodated in Suffolk, which keeps their family and friends active and makes re-integration with the family easier to arrange."

While a number of foster carers have been found, there is still great need for potential carers and families to come forward.

If you would like to become a foster carer, please call the county council's fostering team on 01284 352202 or visit www.suffolkfostering.com.

What do you think about the social services shake-up? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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