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Parent/carer information

We understand it can be a worrying experience for parents/carers when your child is placed in a secure environment. We hope this website will help answer some of your questions about Atkinson. If you have any more questions, staff are always happy to help with any query you have, so please ask. There is no such thing as a silly question, we are here to help.

Atkinson is a ‘Secure Children’s Home’. This is important to say because some people who have not visited us may think we are a prison and staff wear uniforms. We would like to reassure you that we are not a prison and the staff do not wear uniforms. We are here to look after your child and help them through any of the difficulties they may have experienced prior to their admission to Atkinson.

Download our PDF guide here:

If it is appropriate, you may be able to see your child’s room on your first visit.

Atkinson has a wide range of facilities and the menu above gives you an idea of what it is like living here and more information about us.

The Atkinson School includes art and domestic science rooms, which are available for use outside school hours, and classrooms with computers furnished to the highest standards. Every young person who comes to stay at the Atkinson will have an education assessment to help us develop an individual education programme for them.

Young people will be expected to undertake mixed programmes of education and if they are over 16 they can take part in work experience linked, where possible, to local colleges or to nationally accredited qualifications, (which they can obtain in Atkinson).

What you need to know

Key workers
Each young person has a key worker to look after them. The key worker will let you know how your child is getting on and can answer any questions you may have. The key worker will write to you letting you know their name and phone number. If you can’t contact the key worker you can ask to speak to the duty manager or the home’s manager.

There is a high ratio of staff to children.

The young people look forward to letters and we encourage you to send these. To keep the young people safe we do ask for letters to be opened in front of a member of staff.

Phone calls
We encourage you to phone your child often as contact with families is very important. Please try to call between 3.30pm-8.30pm during school days, unless there is an emergency.  You will need to give our staff a phone number that you can be reached on in case of an emergency.

Culture and religion
Please let us know if your child has any special cultural, religious or dietary needs and we will try our best to meet them.

Health care
Every young person is given a health check by our visiting nurse or doctor on arrival to the home. The nurse visits regularly and we will call for a doctor if any young person is unwell. Your child will have the opportunity to see a dentist and an optician, and can speak to a psychologist to talk about any emotional or mental wellbeing questions they may have.

There may be several meetings during your child’s stay with us and we would really like you to attend them if possible. This is a chance for you to put your views across about how your child is being cared for and let us know what we can do to meet your child’s needs.

Visiting Atkinson
Visiting times are Monday–Friday 3.30pm–8.00pm, and weekends and holidays 9.00am–8.00pm. Visits are usually up to two hours, but can we can be flexible depending on circumstances. We try to arrange visiting times around school times during the week to avoid any disruption to your child’s school day.

All visits have to be arranged in consultation with the home and your child’s social worker. You will need to call us on 01392 457999 to book your visit in advance and let us know who will be coming.

You need to be aware that:

  • only two people can visit at a time
  • visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult
  • visits are usually one hour long, although you can ask for special agreement for a longer stay
  • some visits may be supervised by staff.

When you arrive please go to reception. You will be asked to sign the visitors book and to provide personal photographic ID, such as a driving licence or passport. You will be given a visitors badge, which you must wear at all times.

Personal possessions such as handbags, keys and mobile phones cannot be taken into the home. You will be given a secure locker to keep your belongings safe during your visit. Any money you would like to give to your child should be handed to reception. The receptionist will give you a receipt and put the money in your child’s account. Certain items are prohibited and are not allowed in the home under any circumstances. This includes:

  • cigarettes, tobacco and cigarette papers
  • sharp objects
  • matches or batteries
  • solvent-based products such as glue
  • lighters and lighter fuel
  • drugs and medication
  • food or drink
  • Blue Tac or similar fixers
  • materials including magazines and books, which are not appropriate for your child’s age
  • cameras
  • razors and razor blades
  • tins, aerosols or glass items
  • mobile phones
  • recording devices – including MP3 players
  • jewellery and valuable personal items
  • CDs and DVDs with a certificate above your child’s age.

And don’t forget:

  • if you try to bring  any of the prohibited items in to the home you will be asked to leave immediately and banned from any future visits
  • if an incident occurs which needs first aid please tell the receptionist
  • Atkinson is a no smoking area and we do not allow smoking in any of our buildings or in the grounds
  • if you hear a fire alarm during your visit please follow the instructions of our staff and make your way calmly to the exit they direct you to.

Complaints and compliments

We encourage you to share your views on the care your child receives while they are with us. If you are unhappy or have concerns with the service please write to the manager of Atkinson in the first instance. If you remain unhappy with the outcome you can contact Devon County Council’s customer service team on 0345 155 1078 or speak to Speak to Ofsted (the organisation that inspects children’s homes) on 0300 1231231. We would of course also like to hear from you if you would like to compliment the service provided as well.

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