Hull City Council achieves national recognition for its revolutionary approach to children’s homes
Published 1 month ago
CSWM news

More children staying close to home and children’s homes that don’t look like children’s homes: Hull City Council has taken an innovative approach to children’s homes that has caught national attention and has enabled more children to live and thrive in Hull.

Back in 2017, the city had just six children’s homes. Children being placed in living situations away from their hometown has been a huge national issue and this was no different in Hull. Children who are placed in homes far away from where they are used is known to lead to poorer outcomes for them.

To tackle this issue, the council began work improving the overall quality of its children’s homes, offering an individualised and therapeutic approach to care and making their homes more nurturing places.

The council built on its portfolio of homes – as of 2024, it has 16. The council also offers a range of different homes for children, depending on their needs. They offer some children solo or duo placements, as well as the traditional group home setting. The council also purchased houses of different sizes across many different neighbourhoods of Hull, including some new builds, and furnished them to a high standard. Many are not even identifiable as a children’s home and have become a part of the community.

The number of children living away from Hull was brought down from 44 to 18, which in itself has saved the council millions of pounds and has improved outcomes for young people in the city. The numbers of children going missing or engaging in risky behaviours has decreased and it’s also enabled social workers to have good oversight of their education. Keeping children close to Hull has also empowered them to establish and maintain their natural connections with people in their hometown.

The team works side-by-side with all partners involved, so they can all act together as a service in the best interest of children. There’s support from Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in each home – the CAMHS worker visits once a week and is treated very much as part of the team.

The council are also part of the Department for Education’s Stay Close programme. Staying Close is a model which provides an enhanced support package for young people leaving care from children’s homes. It’s a joint venture with the council’s Targeted Youth Support service.

Since the council’s improvement journey began, recruitment has also greatly improved – there are now around 400 employees, both casual and permanent. The council have been able to recruit its own staff, who are trained to a high standard. Roles have been popular and see a lot of applicants, which means the there’s less reliance on agency staff. Hull City Council want the best staff for its children and in turn, people want to come and work for the council.

The journey has led Hull to become one of the national examples of ‘best practice’, when it comes to children’s homes. Almost all of its homes are rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Other local authorities and regional partners have approached Hull City Council to learn more about its innovative approach to caring for children, and the council is proud to be used as an example of best practice.

Above all, what the team are most proud of is the wonderful feedback they have received from children and families who use the service. The council have listened to children from the very start of its improvement journey. Children say they really value their relationships with staff and that is what matters most to them.

The network of services that support children in Hull have committed to the long-term ambition of keeping children in Hull ‘All with us’. This sets out the council’s ambition for all its looked-after children to stay in Hull, but also acknowledges that the council can only achieve this when everyone works together. This commitment encompasses not just children’s homes, but CAMHS, the virtual school, social care, housing and more.

Pauline Turner the Director of Children, Young People and Family Services at Hull City Council said:

“What a journey it has been for our children’s homes. I’m proud of our children’s services for its transformative approach to caring for children and young people in our city, which has garnered well-deserved national attention. Sometimes risks are worth taking and it has paid off. Now more of our children are thriving, where they belong here in Hull.”

A young person shared their experience of getting to stay home in Hull. They said: “It’s important because it’s a familiar area, my dad knows where I am, everyone knows where I am, and I feel safe in Hull. I’ve been raised and was born in Hull, and I think it’s a good place to be.”

Find out more about working with children and young people in Hull by visiting the council’s website.