Council lambasted for state of children's homes

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Residential care homes run by a south London council are dirty, under-equipped and badly managed, according to government inspectors.

A report from the Department of Health criticises Lambeth's residential homes for children at risk. The council has been asked to improve its current facilities.

Lambeth's residential child care services first came under inspection in March 1993 after concerns were raised about the standards of care in the borough.

The latest report is the result of a follow up inspection in May 1994. It highlights poor standards of cleanliness and the need for repairs, maintenance and more equipment. Complaints by children were not being dealt with speedily and neither children nor staff were told of the outcome.

Basic information about the children and plans for their future were missing from files. For many children, there was no evidence at all of a clear plan.

Health minister John Bowis said some improvements had been made since last year's report. 'But the residential child care service provided by Lambeth is still not good enough. It is essential that, in its plans for a new service, Lambeth takes account of, and acts on, the recommendations in this report.

'Children looked after by local authorities are particularly vulnerable and must receive a high-quality service which will help them to grow up as valuable and valued members of society.'

Inspectors plan to visit the homes again next year.

A council spokeswoman said they could not comment until councillors had considered the report in detail.

A report is due to go to the social services committee on 19 October.

She added that the council's residential homes were undergoing a major shake up to meet the highly specialised needs of children living there. One of the four remaining homes is due to close soon.

Of 729 children looked after by the council, only 37 are in council-run homes. Most are fostered or placed in independent homes.

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