Transformational £2.2m plan to open four children’s homes that would take the profit out of the care system
A transformational £2.2m plan to support the development of four ‘not-for-profit’ children’s homes in the Liverpool City Region has been unveiled.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will be asked to contribute £800,000 to the Juno project that will see 10 homes open in the next five years, the first two of which will be in Oxton and Wallasey on the Wirral.
Additional properties have also been identified in Sefton and Halton.
Juno plans to disrupt the model for children’s homes by creating opportunities for children to stay close to their local area and by removing high profits from the system. An estimated 57 jobs are to be created through the plan which will include an active recruitment campaign to build the team for their first Wirral home opening early 2023.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Every child deserves the chance to grow up in a loving family with a safe, secure home to call their own. Yet, for some young people in our community, situations beyond their control can mean they find themselves living outside their family home for extended periods of time. When that happens, I want to make sure we can provide them with the reassurance of knowing they won’t need to leave their local area.
“Working with Juno and our local councils, we want to build a safety net that will mean a child’s life is disrupted as little as possible by making sure they don’t need to move school, or move away from their friends, at a time when they need stability the most.
“We are turning the broken model of children’s care homes on its head by moving away from a model that profits off children’s struggles and instead remembering that they are there to be nurtured and helped.
“This is the difference devolution makes – giving regions like ours the opportunity to invest in life-changing projects that help those in our society who need it most, and ensure we can reap the benefits of secure, local jobs for our residents. Working together, we’re building a region where no one is left behind.”
The Combined Authority has been in dialogue with We are Juno CIC, a company set up to run the scheme, since last year. Juno has so far been funded through £625,000 of charitable investments from the National Lottery, the KPMG Foundation and the Segelman Trust.
£2.2m was needed in total to launch the project, meet initial running costs and establish the management structure. Juno has secured a £1m Wirral Council loan, £400,000 from local social investors and, under this proposal is looking to secure the remaining £800,000 from the Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund.
Recommending funding approval, a report to the Combined Authority says the number of children in care in England rose sharply over the last decade to nearly 81,000 in 2021.
A Competition and Markets Authority analysis of Children’s Social Care found ‘the largest private providers of placements are making materially higher profits, and charging materially higher prices, than we would expect if this market were functioning effectively.’
A government commissioned Independent Review of Children’s Social Care reiterated the Competition and Markets Authority view that the care market was ‘broken’.
Juno is proposing an ‘alternative social value model’ which leases properties, charges a ‘cost-plus’ price per child and generates a proportionate surplus to reinvest in further homes and a delivery model entirely focused on care. Juno has been developed collaboratively with local authorities and young people from across the Liverpool City Region.
Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and Third Sector, Cllr Janette Williamson, said:
“We are determined to fix this broken market in which private companies are making huge profits from looking after some of society’s most vulnerable children.
“We want to see a sustainable not-for-profit system in which children are cared for locally in homes shaped by young people who have experienced care. We believe this is the right model to achieve those aims.”
Juno CIC is fully supported by Liverpool City Region-based Capacity who intend to develop further once the first homes are established.
Juno has provided financial modelling that shows it could generate surpluses, whilst providing high levels of care and enhanced terms and conditions for staff. Surpluses would be used to work collaboratively with local authorities to plan and develop future homes based on local need.
This would be an opportunity for the Liverpool City Region to lead transformational change for the care sector however, it requires significant support and funding to grow and fulfil Juno’s plans.
Capacity Director of Children’s and Strategic Lead for Juno, Sophie Clarke added:
“There are very few not-for-profit homes in the Liverpool City Region, and very few across the country.
“It’s a sector dominated by profit-making organisations, so we’ve created Juno as a way to really disrupt this and help create quality and not-for-profit alternatives for children.
“Further funding from the CA will help us do just that and build homes that have been led and shaped by the voices of care-experienced young people.”