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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report


C.2: Provision for children with complex needs in the care of Lambeth Council

3. Prior to the opening of specialist homes, children in care in Lambeth with complex needs were accommodated in long-term hospital care or placed in private and voluntary homes, often far from their families, or moved from home to home.[1] One care file reviewed by the Inquiry recorded a very young child (described as having learning disabilities due to possible brain injury at birth) being in care from the age of three and moved at least 14 times during a 16-year period.[2]

4. In 1974, nine years after taking over responsibility for children’s residential care, Lambeth Council acknowledged the lack of provision to meet the needs of children with disabilities.[3] Ivy House opened in 1976, located initially on the Shirley Oaks site in Croydon, to provide short breaks for 15 children with complex needs.[4] Families with children who had complex needs were entitled to six weeks per year of short-stay care. At the peak of its use in 1988, 80 families used the services of Ivy House.[5] Two further homes providing care for children with complex needs followed: Chestnut Road in 1979 for long-stay care for up to 12 children and Monkton Street in 1980 for long and short-stay care for 13 children.[6] By 2000, all three specialist homes had closed: Ivy House in 1990, Monkton Street in 1996 and Chestnut Road in 2000.[7]

5. Allegations of sexual abuse at Ivy House were investigated by Lambeth Council staff in 1985 (the initial investigation into the Ivy House complaint)[8] and 1986 (the Management investigation into the Ivy House complaint). There were also two investigations related to Monkton Street in 1987 and 1988 (the first Monkton Street report and the second Monkton Street report).[9] Although the Metropolitan Police Service was involved, there were no prosecutions in relation to either home. A report in 2000 into the closure of Chestnut Road revealed that complaints of sexual abuse had also arisen there in the late 1990s. At the time, Lambeth Council concluded that there was insufficient firm evidence to form the basis of any disciplinary proceedings.[10]

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