The site and building would remain under the ownership of Richmond Council, and would be operated by Achieving for Children (AfC) under a license or lease arrangement.
Achieving for Children is a social enterprise company created by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames to provide their children’s services. The duration of AfC’s contract with Richmond Council has never been a consideration in the proposal to open a local children’s home.
Where additional authorities join AfC, each will maintain a bespoke local infrastructure agreed with Members representing that authority. In the case of Richmond and Kingston, they retain their own Director of Children’s Services specifically focused on needs and resources in this area, and Richmond and Kingston Members work actively with AfC to plan resources and deliver services for residents.
All staff would be committed and well trained residential children’s home professionals. The home would be registered and monitored by Ofsted.
Ofsted stipulate that the registered manager has a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Residential Childcare or equivalent and staff have a Level 3 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Residential Childcare or equivalent. Some staff may have additional qualifications, for example in social and youth work and education.
Although no children’s homes currently exist in Richmond upon Thames, they have in the past. Many people currently employed by AfC have experience of working within the children’s residential care sector.
The Director of Children’s Services and the Director for Children’s Social Care have experience of working in a children’s residential facility and of inspecting children’s residential care facilities on behalf of a local authority respectively.
Additionally, AfC currently manage a residential care facility for young people in Kingston, although this caters for a slightly older age group than is planned here.
If children are in residence there would be at least two residential care staff, working shift patterns to provide 24 hour coverage. Other adult professionals would also visit, for example a social worker might visit a child after school.
A staff pool of 14 is the realistic number needed to operate the home 24 hours per day 365 days per year when taking into account typical hours in a working week, holiday entitlement, training days and likely sickness rate. Strong relationships between staff and children will be built by adopting structures and approaches proven in the best children’s homes around the country.
As Corporate Parent, it is the collective responsibility of the Council, elected members, employees, and partner agencies to support the children and young people, ensuring they are responsible for their own behaviour.
The home will function in a very similar fashion to other family homes in Teddington, apart from the adults will be staff rather than biological or step parents of the children. Meals will be prepared and eaten together, evenings will include collective television watching, and the adults will encourage the children to have breakfast before school, do their homework and go to bed on time.
The five children living at the home could be expected to come and go in the same way that other teenagers would from their home. They would for example leave for school in the morning, return towards the end of the day, and possibly leave again in the evening to join an extra-curricular activity in the community.
At weekends and in school holidays their routines would be different and again reflect the movements of a typical teenager – leaving the property to visit friends, attend clubs etc. and returning to the house to sleep. Teddington has a rich range of activities from which children at the home would be able to choose.
Managing food would be the responsibility of staff, although like any home, the children would be encouraged to play an active role in this, whether this be by visiting shops or booking online deliveries. Meals would be prepared by any of staff members with broader responsibilities, a dedicated cook, or the children themselves.
During all school holidays, and indeed, at weekends, a range of activities would be arranged. In the summer holidays this would include an extended trip away from the home for example for two weeks for the children accompanied by staff.
Details of what would happen during school holidays, would depend on the needs of the individual children and the structure of the activities / holiday itinerary. For example if all the children were attending a watersports course at The Lensbury Club from 9am to 4pm, the home would be operated in a similar fashion to during term time.
Evening staffing would be similar to during the school term.
Friends and family of the children and young people would also visit the home from time to time. The travel plan/traffic impact of the home would be a key aspect of the planning application should the proposal progress, and visits would be proactively managed to prevent excessive peaks in visitor numbers at any one time.
The interior of the children’s home will closely resemble the interior of other detached family houses of a similar size in Teddington – there would be bedrooms, a kitchen/diner, living area and bathrooms.
If a child’s social worker visits after school, they may meet the child in one of the reception rooms on the ground floor, or at the breakfast bar in the kitchen. If a friend or family member visits one of the children (all such visits need to be scheduled and planned) again this could happen in the privacy of one of the reception rooms or in a communal space.
Staff would use the home office to make telephone calls and complete the extensive record keeping requirements of a highly regulated facility such as this would be.
Staff, children, community volunteers and, if necessary, an outside contractor would maintain the garden.
It is very unlikely that any children would have cars, although theoretically possible if over 17. The home would have its own vehicle, likely to be a 7 seat MPV. This car could be used for tasks such as giving the children a lift to school, going away on holiday, or weekend activities.
Updated: 8 August 2017