A former retail unit is to be turned into a family assessment centre after plans were approved by the council.

Acorn Child Services applied to Pendle Council to change a former retail space in Colne into a family assessment centre, which will aim to assess and support vulnerable and in-need children and their families.

A planning statement submitted alongside the application stated: “When a family has been referred to a family assessment centre, it is because there have been historical concerns over the safety of the baby/child/children and the parent/s ability to safeguard the child from harm or to be able to provide the basic care needs through many reasons.

“Often the parents are vulnerable themselves having experienced their own traumas in their childhood and have not had the positive experiences to learn the appropriate skills in order to parent safely and effectively.

“The proposal is to provide a service for the less able parents and children who require support following governmental recommendation.

“Commonly, there are a lot of single placements involving just the mother - our home would provide such single parent placements.

“Often there has been a history of substantial domestic violence towards the mother, that not only impacts upon the mother's ability to protect her child or herself, but also the significant impact this has upon the mother's self-esteem and her inability to keep her baby/children safe.

“The staff team continuously monitor the parent's care of their babies 24/7 using CCTV equipment, but also provide emotional support and educate them in appropriate childcare, child development, the parent's own self-care, budgeting, cooing and appropriate relationships.

“This teaches the parents how the positive effects of all of these factors can impact upon the development of their baby/child and also informing them of the potential negative impacts and outcomes on their child's development.”

The plans state there will be two staff members on shift at all times.

The centre will be regulated by Ofsted, and will work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, which includes social workers, guardian ad litem (who are appointed to oversee the best interests of the child involved) and health professionals.

The planning statement went on: “The centre will work with and support very young children and babies and operate a zero-tolerance policy thus no behavioural issues are seen at such centres.

“This is a place where parents and children can equip themselves with the necessary skills required which, will then enable them to lead a better quality of life.

“The robust support provided will allow families to have a base where they can develop together into a functional family and have social life.”

Plans were approved by Pendle Council on March 8.