Plans for new £1.8m home for children with autism in Leeds

Plans for a new multi-million pound home for children with special needs are set to go before Leeds City Council decision-makers next week.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:06 pm

A report, set to go before the council’s executive board, outlines blueprints to spend around £1.8m on a new specialist children’s home for those with autism and complex needs on the site of the old Pindolds Children’s Home in Halton.

The document said the facility would allow children to remain close to their families, while also reducing the amount of money the council spends outsourcing for “extremely expensive” private placements for children.

It added: “Currently there are a number of our children and young people with complex needs who are looked after and who live in external residential homes as Leeds does not have enough appropriate and specialist provision to meet their needs.

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A new home for children suffering from autism and other complex needs is set to be discussed by councillors. (Pic: Adobestock)

“This cohort of children typically have learning difficulties, are on the autistic spectrum or have a high level of physical or medical needs. They often display high levels of behaviours that challenge.

“There are logistical and wellbeing issues created for our children and young people who live at a distance from their families, friends and communities. This is mirrored by the practical and operational issues for local professionals and the potential negative impact this has on preparing for adulthood and transition to local adult services.

“The home will provide value for money by reducing the current number of very expensive packages of support required when placing children outside of the Leeds authority.”

The proposed ‘Acorn Lodge 2’ facility would, the report claims “have the feel and look of a standard five-bedroom home with the inclusion of parking spaces and specific outdoor play areas.”

Other features would include four ensuite bedrooms and several sensory and play rooms.

The report stated that the overwhelming majority of these children and young people are male teenagers. It added: “The background for these children and young people coming into care is almost always a crisis in the relationships at home and/or the family’s inability to meet the child or young person’s needs. This impacts on the education provision and subsequently the entire situation deteriorates and breaks down.”

Leeds City Council is currently spending around £15.2m a year on 63 children and young people living in residential homes outside the council’s control. Of these, around 10 are thought to have complex needs.

The report predicts the council could save around £626,000 over a six year period.

Members of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will discuss the plans on Wednesday, March 17.