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Council / New residential care facility for young people edges closer to opening

Education and families committee, meanwhile, is happy with children’s services budget for year ahead

WORK on a new residential care facility for young people in Tingwall is nearing completion.

The building will provide on-island accommodation which should reduce the number of folk who have to travel away from Shetland to receive the support they need.

Jordan Sutherland from the council’s children’s social work team told a meeting of the education and families committee on Monday following a question from Lerwick member Amanda Hawick that the local authority has reduced the number of young people placed off Shetland.

He said there was only one young person placed away from Shetland at the moment.

The Tingwall facility will give the council four extra spaces, he said.

“We are currently underway for the recruitment for the additional staff that we would be needing to staff this service,” Sutherland added.

Children and young people’s residential services currently has various properties in Lerwick, and a property in Dunrossness.

Reducing the number of children that are placed in residential accommodation outwith Shetland, meanwhile, is one of many aims included in a list of priorities for the children’s services department for 2021/22.

Key priorities for the team are early learning and childcare, mental health and emotional wellbeing, sustaining education in rural communities, employability and ‘The Promise’, which relates to changing Scotland’s care system.

Committee chairman George Smith remarked that the last year has been “like no other”.

But he said the focus on priorities for the year ahead gives a fresh focus for services involving young folk.

“This report sets out how we can build back better,” Smith said.

“It’s never been more important in my view to ensure that we prioritise and support the needs of children and young people.”

The Shetland South councillor also paid tribute to the staff who are in place to deliver on the priorities.

“I think we have been really fortunate to have the staff that we do have in the council,” Smith said.

Councillors also gave their approval of the proposed budget for children’s services for the next financial year.

The department is in line to receive an increase of £1.78 million compared to the current year, with its budget potentially rising to £49.351 million.

This includes an estimated pay award of two per cent, and an increase in staffing.

The budget will for the department will now go in front of the policy and resources committee and full council next week.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021