Plans for new children’s homes in Hertfordshire are being considered by the county council.

Council officers are looking at a number of properties already owned by Hertfordshire County Council that could be converted.

Overall, they hope to create an additional 31 beds for children in care, rather than placing them in costly independently-owned homes.

The plan is part of a package of measures designed to keep young people with their families, improve the stability of placements for children in care and to control the cost of placements.

It was supported by the county council's Children, Young People and Families Cabinet Panel at a meeting this month.

At the meeting, councillors heard that while the number of children in care is reducing, the number of children in care over the age of 10 is greater.

The county council has found it more challenging to find foster carer placements for these older children.

They have been increasingly relying on places in independent care homes or with independent foster carers, which can be out of the county and can be costly.

As part of the plan, the new children's home places - in properties in or close to Hertfordshire - would be owned by the county council and run by a private contractor.

Meanwhile, there would also be recruitment of foster carers and additional support for young people at risk of entering the care system.

Despite the initial investment, by 2023/24 it is estimated they could save the county council up to £3.6 million a year.

As part of that investment, £770,000 would be spent on an adolescent response team to provide immediate and intensive support to young people.

There would be £286,000 spent on improving the recruitment and retention of in-house foster carers.

And £1.14 million would be spent on the new care homes, which would require a further capital spend of around £5.43 million.

Members of the cabinet panel recommended that the bid for funding from the county council's 'Invest to Transform' fund be approved by the cabinet.

The cabinet will consider the bid at a date which is yet to be confirmed.