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Greenfields 'Should Be Closed As A Secure Home'

Its been recommended that Greenfields be converted into a resource centre for families and young people in crisis to get help and support.

An independent review has concluded that the secure children's home is not efficient or effective - and that Jersey's ambition should be to not secure its children at all.

Greenfields opened 15 years ago as a secure unit to house children and young people detained under the youth justice system.

The Jersey Care Inquiry wanted it to be demolished and replaced with 'small homely units', calling the unit 'entirely unsuitable'.

The panel said it didn't think it was capable of being transformed into something more appropriate.

The government decided against that and declared that it should be 'redesigned and redeveloped' instead.

Following a review last year, The Children's Home Association says the level of crime here is relatively low and although some youngsters do behave in a way that raises welfare concerns, services should be confident in their ability to work positively with these children outside of a secure environment.

It wants the building transformed into a centre that provides short break services, education, emergency beds, community outreach, and therapeutic support. It would be staffed by specialist carers and the aim would be to help resolve issues and reunite families.

"The service would be led by the Edge of Care Team and the residential element staffed by specialist carers. The aim would be for planned admissions to the unit to facilitate resolution and reunification with families through respite and targeted therapeutic interventions. It is envisaged that the Youth Service and CAMHS would have a presence and the Resource Centre would be a resource for families and young people to access help and support.

"While the overall aim is to prevent admission to the residential homes, this facility would ensure that any placements that must be made, are based upon robust assessments and the exhaustion of alternative interventions.

"In addition, there would be four emergency beds. The lack of emergency provision has led to several inappropriate placements, some witnessed during the review. Any admission would be for a time limited assessment period during which multi agency decisions could be made regarding future plans in a safe, structured environment. Over time, the Resource Centre should reduce admissions to the residential services and provide alternative interventions for vulnerable children and families."

The ICHA says while some children may need detaining, that should be developed off-island or alongside a Youth Justice System.

A review of the secure facility concluded that staff are unlikely to be meeting the specific needs of the children and young people living there.

Three young people were living there at the time of the Children's Home Association's inspection, with staff brought in from across the children's service to work in the home.

The panel says not only did this deplete staff numbers in other homes, it meant the team was neither specialist nor cohesive.

It was also concluded that not all staff wanted to work there.

"The Government of Jersey needs to establish more coherent, integrated services that are deployed more effectively and efficiently to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable children. For most children, the service aspiration should be to secure them as low down the continuum of need as possible. But some children and young people on the edge of care, and in care, should benefit from support services explicitly designed and delivered to meet their needs. There is no doubt that the entry to care thresholds need to be raised in Jersey, but this can only be done through the provision of intensive family support services at times and places children and families need. 

"Entry to care thresholds need to be owned by partner agencies, not just social care. The availability and deployment of resources along the continuum of need should be more explicit to professionals and children and families. The Government of Jersey has a stated aim of right help,  right time. Alongside, it is incumbent on the Government to be explicit about what that means in reality for service users – what help, when and where."

The ICHA says it is inevitable that some children will not be identified quickly enough, so suggests a small unit with specialised staff be created to work exclusively with these children.

The review pointed to formal advice provided by the Children's Commissioner, who raised concerns about  the ‘multi-purpose’ use of the home for three separate groups of children:

  • To accommodate a child who is serving a sentence for a criminal offence
  • To accommodate children placed there on Secure Accommodation Orders
  • A section of the home has been re-designated as an in-patient unit for the hospital.

The third group of children are no longer accommodated there, with that situation ocurring due to the circumstances of the pandemic.

The ICHA says this perhaps showed a lack of understanding about what 'secure home' actually means.

"The secure children’s home staff report issues with internal doors not being secured by the hospital staff seconded to look after the hospital patients, due to an apparent lack of understanding about the necessity of security. In addition, having these patients in part of the building limited the access of the children on the secure side to the communal outdoor spaces. When children have already been deprived of their liberty legally, there should not be a further deprivation of liberty within the secure setting unless it is in the child’s best interest, which this was not. One secure resident did raise a complaint about their inability to access parts of the building when the Robin Ward patients were present.

"Furthermore, concern has been raised about the locking of bedroom doors overnight, which inhibits the children’s ability to move freely around the unit. The locking of doors and set bedtimes is normal practice in a secure home and is done in the children’s best interests to provide safety and structure. Anecdotally children report feeling safe in their bedrooms at night, often for the first time in a long time. All rooms are en-suite."

If the government decides to keep Greenfields as a secure children's home, the ICHA says an agreement should be reached 'regarding its purpose and function'.

Another recommendation is for bedroom doors to be replaced by strong secure doors with viewing panes that look more homely, and for the environment to be decorated to make it more child appropriate.

"We will work to address the development of the secure children’s home as a matter of urgency. The Government has appointed a full-time project manager to lead the development of this work, reporting to a Multi-Agency Management Board.

"The work is being developed with consideration of the £7 million redevelopment funding and the new Therapeutic Children’s Home." - Deputy Scott Wickenden, Assistant Children and Education Minister.

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