Lavender House, in New Farm Road, Stanway, could close to cut costs

Essex County Standard: Dick Madden Dick Madden

A RESPITE home for disabled children is under threat of closure, putting 42 jobs at risk.

Lavender House, in New Farm Road, Stanway, could close under cost-cutting proposals by Essex County Council.

The authority has launched a consultation on its short-term care for children with disabilities in a bid to save money.

It says Lavender House and a facility in Harlow could be closed due to falling demand.

Dick Madden, county councillor for families and children, said: “I know respite care is a lifeline for many parents and carers and I hope through this consultation we can develop a service offer that provides the best provision for the child and appropriate support for their family. Service improvement will be delivered over time and no family will be left without a service.”

Lavender House, which opened in August 2001, cares for children aged five to 18, and was 80 per cent full last year.

There were 110 children who used the house last year, or are currently using it. A council spokesman said, should it close, it was too early to say what might happen to the 42 staff employed there.

Julie Young, Labour group leader on Essex County Council, and who represents Wivenhoe St Andrew ward, said: “I have seen with my own eyes what the facility does.

“Parents with children with a disability have a hard job to do and these short breaks are vital to them. I would say a cut such as this, that attacks our most vulnerable members of the community, is disappointing and regrettable.”

Essex County Council says respite breaks are increasingly being provided by independent homes, foster carers, activity breaks and school holiday clubs.

As a result, it wants to develop alternatives to running its own centres, such as “spot-purchasing”

breaks at children’s homes and increasing the use of foster carers.

The authority is looking to save £215million over the next three years. But Mr Madden said: “We are purely consulting on options.

Should any changes be made, these will be delivered in a timely, sensitive way.”

The six-week consultation started on Friday and runs until Monday, January 6.

Give your views at essexinsight.org.uk/consultations

Comments (2)

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12:47pm Mon 2 Dec 13

Jacq65 says...

Closing Lavender House and or The Maples will have a disastrous affect on many families. County have been refusing new family who need this facility so they can say look the occupancy levels are not high enough to sustain funding. Closing these home will cost more money in the long run, not less, it will cause the breakdown of more families and have a detrimental affect on the disabled children these home presently accommodate.
Shared care only works with certain children, very few of those who presently use respite homes would be suitable for shared care
Closing Lavender House and or The Maples will have a disastrous affect on many families. County have been refusing new family who need this facility so they can say look the occupancy levels are not high enough to sustain funding. Closing these home will cost more money in the long run, not less, it will cause the breakdown of more families and have a detrimental affect on the disabled children these home presently accommodate. Shared care only works with certain children, very few of those who presently use respite homes would be suitable for shared care Jacq65

11:10pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Tracey69ann says...

I think its absolutely disgusting that you feel the need to close these places down, before you start saying there is not a demand for them you need to check your facts first, there are many children with disabilities with parents at breaking point being turned down. Your plan to put vulnerable children into foster care with people that are not trained to look after children with many complex needs is not a safe environment, i think you need to look at what every parent has to say before you close either of these facilities as im sure you will realise it will cost more money in the long run and good people, who are trained to look after these children, can continue to do their jobs. Oh and by the way as a parent of a disabled child that uses these facilities you've not spoken to me or any other parent i know of that uses these respite homes, our lifeline for our opinion on whether fostering and shared care is the way forward i can give you my answer now, IT WON'T WORK.
I think its absolutely disgusting that you feel the need to close these places down, before you start saying there is not a demand for them you need to check your facts first, there are many children with disabilities with parents at breaking point being turned down. Your plan to put vulnerable children into foster care with people that are not trained to look after children with many complex needs is not a safe environment, i think you need to look at what every parent has to say before you close either of these facilities as im sure you will realise it will cost more money in the long run and good people, who are trained to look after these children, can continue to do their jobs. Oh and by the way as a parent of a disabled child that uses these facilities you've not spoken to me or any other parent i know of that uses these respite homes, our lifeline for our opinion on whether fostering and shared care is the way forward i can give you my answer now, IT WON'T WORK. Tracey69ann

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