HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots cut the first sod on the site of the new £2 million intensive support unit in Ballymena on Wednesday.
The new unit will be built on a site adjacent to the existing Ballee children’s home and will provide a residential facility for children with complex and challenging needs.
Mr Poots said: “When the new unit opens next year, children and young people will receive the latest care in a modern, domestic-style facility, close to their family and friends.”
The facilities will include six single ensuite bedrooms and a self-contained flat with kitchenette to encourage young people to take part in every day household tasks.
Marie Roulston, director of children’s services at the Northern Trust, said: “In an ideal world all children would be cared for in a loving home environment. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.
“Foster carers provide an excellent service and with their love and support looked-after children will thrive and grow to adulthood.
“However, for some children foster care is not an option and we must look after them in residential settings.
“The Ballee support unit is a fine, modern example of the type of facility we would want to provide the level of care and support these children need.”
It is hoped that the new unit will be complete by autumn 2013.