WORK is underway to create a new unit at a secure children’s home in County Durham to help support young residents when they leave the centre.

Construction has started at Aycliffe Secure Children’s Home, in Newton Aycliffe, to create a new ‘step-down’ place.

The area will support children to move out of secure accommodation safely and back into the community when they are ready to do so.

It will also create more than 20 new skilled jobs.

Durham County Councillor Ted Henderson, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “The creation of the new transition unit at Aycliffe Secure Children’s Home will help to smooth the process for young people leaving secure accommodation and going back into the community.

“They will continue to have the support they need and will be able to build on the skills and experiences they have gained at the centre.”

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The centre provides secure accommodation for young people between the ages of ten and 18, many of whom have complex problems and need intensive support to help them turn their lives around.

Accommodation is available for up to 38 residents, who have either been sentenced or remanded by the Youth Custody Service or are being looked after for their own for other safety.

The new unit will allow access to school, college or apprenticeships while enabling children to live in a safe environment with access to support and staff whom they have come to trust.

It will provide four en-suite bedrooms for young people, all at ground floor overlooking the centre’s courtyard, as well as two secure staff sleep-in rooms and a staff office and meeting room.

Work on the unit is expected to be completed by September, with children who currently live at the home remaining there throughout the build process.

The creation of the new transition unit comes after Aycliffe Secure Children’s Home retained its position as an ‘Outstanding’ centre following an inspection by Ofsted in November 2021.

The home has been rated as Outstanding since 2019.

Aycliffe Secure Children’s Home is currently looking for daytime and night-time residential workers, case workers, educational staff and house managers.

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