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Shocking report into children’s home reveals frequent drug-taking and ‘child dangling from first-floor window’

PUBLISHED: 05:53 19 March 2020

A children's home run by Suffolk County Council has been given an 'inadequate' Ofsted. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A children's home run by Suffolk County Council has been given an 'inadequate' Ofsted. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Frequent cannabis use, two months of missed medication and alcohol abuse are among a host of issues raised by Ofsted in an inspection of a Suffolk children’s home.

Education cabinet member Mary Evans said an action plan was in place to make rapid improvements. Picture: GREGG BROWNEducation cabinet member Mary Evans said an action plan was in place to make rapid improvements. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The education watchdog gave the home an ‘inadequate’ rating following an inspection on February 19, which identified a catalogue of issues.

The home, which is run by Suffolk County Council, cannot be identified for legal reasons - but was found to have “left children living in a volatile and unsafe environment”.

The council says it has since “rapidly implemented a detailed action plan to address the concerns raised”.

It said that “managers have failed to prevent recent incidents of bullying, substance misuse and aggression” and found “staff have not given one child her medication since December 2019”.

The report highlighted an incident in which one child, “while intoxicated was found dangling from the first floor window” and another where “children have taken the staff’s master keys and home’s car keys, started the home’s car and stalled it when trying to reverse it”.

According to the report, the children “frequently use cannabis” and “serious incidents happen one after the other with no time for reflection or investigation. Some incidents are not recorded.”

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The home provides care for up to seven children aged 11-18 who may have experienced neglect, trauma or emotional abuse.

Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council, said: “There is nothing more important than ensuring children in our care are kept safe and well, which is why I am very concerned by this report.

“The service has rapidly implemented a detailed action plan to address the concerns raised in the report and I am assured of the safety of all the children at the home.

“The circumstances of the children currently placed at this home are being individually reviewed and any necessary changes to their care plans will be actioned without delay.

“We take alcohol and cannabis use by young people in our care very seriously and continue to take significant action to prevent this by working with them. Measures include searches of the home and talks and support from specialist drugs and alcohol teams; this is the procedure we followed at this home.

“For the past six months, we have been implementing a programme to improve all of our children’s homes. This 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 and support to help them look after these very complex young people more successfully. As well as training this involves support to the homes from a team of clinical psychologists.

“I am monitoring progress through the relevant senior officers and want to reassure people that these issues will be dealt with quickly.

“Most importantly I want to apologise to the young people that our care has not reached the standards we expect, this is not good enough – we will improve and quickly.”

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