A NEW care home is set to be opened in Southend in a bid to reduce the number of children being sent outside of the borough.

Southend Council will spend a total of £700,000 on purchasing a property in the borough which will then be transformed into a children’s care home.

Details of the plan were included in the draft budget for 2019, which was approved by the council’s cabinet on Thursday.

Councillors had already agreed £400,000 would be spent on the project through borrowing but the latest budget sets aside an extra £300,000.

The money saved by no longer having to send children out of the borough is expected to recoup the outlay.

It is not yet known where the new home will be and the council will decide how the project will move forward once the budget has been approved in February.

Councillor Helen Boyd, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Although there are occasions where our looked after children need to be placed away from the Southend area for their own safety.

“On the whole we do try to ensure that those who are able to stay close to home can do exactly that.

“Our main concern is always the child’s welfare and safety, and if approved, this extra facility will allow for much needed additional places, and allow for shorter residential stays closer to home, which will benefit those children.

“This project feeds heavily into our ambitions for Southend 2050 as not only does it protect and improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in our community, it helps develop a more integrated children’s pathway across health and social care.”

There are currently four children’s residential homes within the borough which are used by children’s services.

The draft budget will go through the council’s scrutiny committees and the final budget will be discussed and approved at full council on February 21.

Sites have not yet been chosen for the potential location and the size of the home and how many children will be helped is still being discussed.

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