Harrogate is to be the home of a hub dedicated to improving the lives of young people in care, following an influx of £2m of government money.
This funding will be added to more than £4m from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) which will be used to progress the innovative No Wrong Door programme.
Hailed as a ‘radical initiative’, the scheme will see the replacement of all council-run children’s homes with two hubs, in Harrogate and Scarborough, geared towards providing added support to children in the care system.
It is anticipated that the project will also reduce the number of people looked after by the local authority from 468 to 400, leading to a £2m year-on-year saving and reducing the need for external residential placements which cost £3,250 a week on average.
Proposed regional hub manager for the west Simon Saxton said: “The hub is offering a brand new lense to look at how we offer residential support to young people.
“It is scaling down, but it is also offering more by refocusing how we work with young people with different types of intervention.
“Nationally North Yorkshire is doing very well and we are having improved outcomes for young people, and that totally handshakes with the hub because it promotes those links.
“We are not saying goodbye to young people when they hit a certain age, we are offering support into adolescence that will promote better educational attainment and pathways.”
North Yorkshire continues to have about 10 per cent of young people in England who stay in the care system beyond the age of 18. However, the county is recognised nationally as a beacon of good practice, and 23 care-leavers are now studying for a degree.
And though the move to the hubs represents a reduction in the number of children’s homes in the county - scaling down from three to two - the number of beds on offer to young people has increased in the west from nine to 12.
Head of residential and leaving-care provision Martin Kelly said: “We are investing money and the funding coming from the DfE is about remodelling the way we are looking after young people.
“It is an increase in beds over all and that is about making sure all young people get foster care. Those young people who do end up in residential care have fairly tough backgrounds and we need to provide more resources for them to be placed in a family-based placement.
“This move is saving money in a positive way. It is not specifically about reduction of money, but it will create an appropriate saving.
“What it will do in the long term is reduce the number of young people looked after by the local authority by delivering better support to families.”