CREATING a new care team will bring children in residential care outside of Blaenau Gwent back home.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Social Services scrutiny committee on Thursday, October 8 councillors were told of the need to create a MyST (My Support Team) specifically for the county borough.

Up to now the MyST team has been jointly run with Monmouthshire Council but the collaboration is coming to an end.

The council’s director of Social Services Damien McCann explained: “Monmouthshire have already formed their own, if we don’t then we’ll probably lose a whole a team and we can’t afford to.

“We are suggesting that we have a full-size team.

“If we have that we can work with more children which will enable us hopefully to bring more home and keep children within Blaenau Gwent than go out to residential placement.

“We’re in a position where we have to do something as Monmouthshire have already taken that leap and we need to decide to create our own.”

Lori Morris of the children’s social services department told councillors that the cost of running the team would be just over £500,000 a year.

At the moment the county borough pays £240,000 into the joint MYST team.

Ms Morris said: “This was a project that was developed regionally, every authority in Gwent has their own team, but Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire developed one together.

“It’s a multi-disciplinary team that offers intensive support for our most complex children.

“Children who have mental health difficulties or extremely complex behaviour and unfortunately end up in residential care.”

Ms Morris explained that residential care is “very expensive” and as the residential homes are outside the borough children have to move schools and can lose contact with friends.

With residential placements costing £4,000 a week per child – preventing children going into residential homes would provides a saving for the council.

Ms Morris said that they would expect to bring “at least two children” back from residential care a year, to families or foster placements, making a saving of £416,000 a year.

Cllr Julie Holt said: “More important than the figures is the fact that these children will be more or less coming back home to their own borough, where people understand their needs.

“People in Newport have different needs to people in Blaenau Gwent and if you put them out of county it’s like pulling a fish out of water.

“I fully support this, and bring it on as soon as possible.”

Councillors agreed to support the proposal which will now go on to be discussed at a meeting of the Executive committee in November.