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3.3 Joint Protocol for Young People Between 16-21 in Housing Need

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Partnership Working
  3. Housing Department Responsibilities
  4. Referral Team Responsibilities
  5. Swindon Youth Offending Team Responsibility
  6. Supporting People Responsibilities
  7. Bromford Housing Group Young People's Floating Support Service
  8. Housing and Route 16+ Procedures
  9. The Joint Arrangement Agreed by Route 16+ Team and Housing for Care Leavers
  10. Accommodation
  11. Future Working
  12. Signatures
  13. The Legal Framework
  14. Housing Act 1996
  15. Homelessness Act 2002
  16. Children Act 1989
  17. Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
  18. Definitions Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Legislation
  19. Children Act 2004 (Every Child Matters)

    Appendix 1: SBC Housing and Children Service Procedures Following Southwark Judgement Flowchart

    Appendix 2: SBC Housing and Children Service Procedures Following Southwark Judgement - Children Services Process Flowchart

    Appendix 3: Supported Accommodation for Young People in Swindon


1. Introduction

This joint protocol covers the service provision to young people who are single people aged 16 and 17 years and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This document offers guidance to Children's Social Care and the Local Authority's Housing Department regarding their duties under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989 and Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996.

Purpose

To update working arrangements between Housing and the Route 16+ Team, Children and Families Services, following legislation to extend priority need for housing accommodation to this group:

  • To establish the basis of partnership working to improve the services provided for young people in Swindon;
  • To clarify respective responsibilities;
  • To provide detailed guidance to ensure a focus on young people;
  • To ensure direct communication between frontline workers and/or their managers to resolve differences at the earliest stage;
  • To make sure that young people are not sent from one office to the other without prior direct communication.

Context

In May 2009, the House of Lords Judgement on the case R(G) v Southwark ruled that local authorities should presume that any lone, homeless child should be provided with accommodation under section 20(3) of the Children Act 1989 to accommodate any child in need aged 16 and 17 whose welfare is likely to be seriously prejudiced without the provision of accommodation. At the same time, local housing authorities are required under the Housing Act 1996 (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002) to secure accommodation for people who are unintentionally homeless, eligible for assistance and in priority need.

Children in need are defined in section 17(10) of the Children Act 1989 as: those who are unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health and development, unless the local authority (that is Children Social Care) provides services; those whose health and development is likely to be significantly impaired, unless the local authority provides services; disabled children; and the provision of services under this section does not include accommodation.

Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, councils must treat 16- or 17-year-olds as looked-after if they have no one to take parental responsibility for them and they believe their welfare would otherwise be "likely to be seriously prejudiced". The authority must therefore provide suitable accommodation and support to the young person. Legislation and guidance emphasises the need for those with responsibility for Children and Families Services and Housing to work closely together to prevent and manage homelessness in relation to young people.

The only exceptions under Section 20 are:

  1. If the child is not in the local authority's judgement (based on an initial screening assessment) a child assessed to be "in need" as under section 17 or section 20. In nearly all cases a child being homeless and their parents being unable to provide them with suitable accommodation or care would result in such significant challenges to the child's welfare, that the child will be a child-in-need. This may be because they had been living independently for some time prior to their homelessness;

    or
  2. Those who explicitly did not want to be accommodated under section.20. Young people must be judged to be competent to make such a decision and have had the benefit of advice about the consequences of making such a decision.

Section 20 (1) requires that every local authority shall provide for any child in need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of:

  1. There being no person who has parental responsibility;
  2. Being lost or having been abandoned;
  3. The person who is caring for the child being prevented from providing the child with suitable accommodation or care.

The provision of Children's Social Care accommodation can only be provided if: the young person gives their consent to this form of accommodation (section 20 (6) Children Act 1989) and to therefore becoming a 'looked after child'; and this is a proportionate response to meet needs.


2. Partnership Working

Young people who become homeless generally have many other issues that affect them. Therefore it is important that agencies work in partnership to ensure the young person’s needs are met.

The aim of the Housing Needs Team and Route 16+ Team, in line with government guidelines, is to:

  • Ensure that young people are adequately supported;
  • Help maintain their tenancy;
  • Prevent homelessness.

Particular responsibilities lie with:

  • Housing Department;
  • Route 16+ Team;
  • YOT;
  • Supporting People.

Monthly meetings take place between Homelessness Operations Manager and Referral Team Manager to:

  • Discuss individual cases;
  • Provide a joint service to young people.


3. Housing Department Responsibilities

In respect of vulnerable young people, the Housing Department will carry out the following duties:

  • Housing is responsible for anyone over the age of 16 not defined as being looked after by social services;
  • We aim to prevent homelessness in the first instance;
  • Where prevention has not been possible, we will assist young people to have a planned move.

The first point of contact for young people is the Housing Options Advisor.

The Housings Options Advisor will:

  • Explore all housing options to prevent homelessness;
  • Fulfil the duty of the Local Authority where young people meet the criteria of the Housing Act 1996 part VII, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002.

Strategic goals for Housing:

  • To improve joint working through multi-agency training;
  • To increase the provisions of supported accommodation for young people to end the use of Bed and Breakfasts for young people;
  • Develop more supported lodgings for young people;
  • To develop partnerships with all agencies to improve the services offered to young people.

Goals Achieved:

  • We have access to supported lodgings;
  • We have incorporated best practise by seeking to maintain care-leavers in their existing accommodation;
  • We have improved early-planning processes with YOT.

Click here to contact the Housing Needs Team


4. Referral Team Responsibilities

The Referral Team is part of the Children and Families Division of Children Services (formerly Social Services). The workers within the team have a range of experience and consist of Social Workers, Personal Advisers and Children and Families Social Care Workers.

The team supports:

  • Young people aged 16-21 who have been accommodated by the Local Authority. This includes a number of young people from other countries who are separated from their families and are seeking asylum;
  • Young people aged 16-17 who have been assessed as being children In need. Support is offered to these young people regardless of whether they are living within their family or are living independently;
  • The support from the Children and Families Services to Children In Need will not continue beyond the young person’s 18th birthday.

Referrals to the Referral Team can be made by any other agency, the young person themselves or members of the public. The decision for the Referral Team to offer a service to the young person is made by the Assistant Team Manager/Team Manager and the support that is to be provided will be based on the outcome of an assessment of need. This assessment is undertaken by a qualified social worker within the Referral Team.

Click here to contact the Family Contact Point


5. Swindon Youth Offending Team Responsibility

Swindon YOT is a multi-agency team. Its aim is to prevent offending and re-offending by young people aged 10-17. As part of its pro-active prevention work, the YOT will also work with young people aged 0-19 who are at risk of offending.

Lack of stable accommodation is a known risk factor for offending. Gaining accommodation can reduce offending by 20%. Having no accommodation can lead to the inappropriate use of custody.  The Youth Justice Board KPIs are:

  • All YOTS have a named accommodation officer. (Court and Post Court Operational Manager);
  • All young people either subject to a community intervention or on release from secure estate (custody) have satisfactory accommodation to go to. 

Under 16 Year Olds

The YOT will communicate closely with Children’s Services, social care teams to ensure suitable accommodation is accessed and supported.

16 and 17 Year Olds

The YOT has no provision to access any accommodation directly. Subject to the young person's status the YOT will work in partnership with social care teams or the local Housing Authority:

  • Social care has statutory responsibility for ‘eligible’ and ‘relevant’ children and for young people who are deemed to be vulnerable and in need under sections 17 and 20 of the children Act 1989;
  • The local authority has a duty to ensure that accommodation is available for young people aged 16-17 who do not meet the above criteria, and who are homeless through no fault of their own;
  • It is possible that a young person subject to an Anti-Social behaviour Injunction can become ‘intentionally homeless’.  In this case, the local housing authority has no duty to accommodate. The YOT, Housing and Social Care teams will work together to prevent this happening, if possible, and ensure the young person receives services if they are ‘vulnerable’ and homeless.

Court Conditions and Remand

Reside as directed on Conditional Bail (16 and 17 year olds). The YOT court officer will refer the young person to the Route 16+ team who will assess the young person's vulnerability. They will then decide on the most appropriate accommodation provision.

Remand to Local Authority Accommodation (16 Year Olds Only)

Under 16s will be referred to the referral team; over 16s will be as above. The YOT court officer will refer the young person into their custody. Under these circumstances unsupported Bed and Breakfast is not considered appropriate.

  • High Risk Offenders: such as arsonists and those who sexually abuse can become excluded from housing provision. YOT, Housing and Social care teams will work together to ensure suitable accommodation is available as part of multi-agency public protection arrangements.

Suitable Accommodation

The YOT strives to ensure all young people have suitable accommodation, as defined by the Children (leaving care) (England) regulations 2001 subsequently, ‘unsupported’ Bed and Breakfast accommodation is not considered suitable.

Young People in Custody

The YOT will assess the young person's housing needs whilst in custody.  Every effort should be made to ensure the young person has advanced notice of their accommodation provision prior to release. The YOT will engage housing and Route 16+ team as required to plan for the young person's release into the community, working together to support the placement.

The YOT will inform Housing when a young person is due to leave prison to enable a planned move for the young person using the following procedure:

  1. YOT officer will complete the Housing pro-forma and fax it to the Senior Homeless Caseworker;
  2. If required, the YOT to arrange a 3 way meeting, to the Route 16+ Team, to discuss the needs of the young person.

Housing will then make a decision regarding young person's housing and inform the YOT officer.

Contacting the YOT

In the first instance the relevant caseworker at the YOT should be contacted. 

Click here to contact the Swindon YOT


6. Supporting People Responsibilities

Supporting People is a programme to deliver housing-related support services to vulnerable people who need help with their living arrangements. The services are funded locally and include:

  • Support within housing schemes;
  • Visiting;
  • Floating support.

Through partnership working and consultations, a project has been set up to commission services for young people to include:

  • Accommodation-based services with a higher level and more holistic support provision;
  • A general move to floating support;
  • The set up of a central access point for Young Person’s Support Services (subject to funding being available).

A web-based directory of Supporting People Services (Swindon BC) is available, which lists all the current services in Swindon and across England.


7. Bromford Housing Group Young People's Floating Support Service

The Swindon Young People's Floating Support Service provides support to all young people aged 16-25 and covers the whole of the Borough.

Bromford, in partnership with the SBC Supporting People Team, works to support the Borough’s young people, to help them acquire housing related and general independent living skills to prepare them for life and to help them integrate into their local community.

Under the Supporting People initiative Bromford deliver support via one to one keyworking sessions delivered by qualified support workers who offer advice and direction in many areas.

Bromford also acts as the central referrals clearing agency for all young people aged 16-25 and will engage other partner agencies where Bromford’s support workers cannot wholly meet the needs of the individual.

Our aim is to reduce the risk of future alienation or homelessness, through teaching relevant life skills and promoting successful community living.

Click here to contact the Young People's Floating Service


8. Housing and Route 16+ Procedures

The following procedures for young people have been established between Housing and Route 16+ Team. Please see flowcharts for 16 and 17 year old presenting as homeless in Swindon,:

8.1 Relevant Young People

Relevant young people are:

  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who have been looked after/on a care order for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and have been looked after at some time while 16 or 17, and who have left care;
  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who would have been relevant as above except for the fact that on their 16th birthday they were detained through the criminal justice system;
  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who have returned home, but the return has broken down.

Responsibility for these young people remains with Route 16+ Team in Children Services if they became homeless.

If, in consultation between Housing and Route 16+ Team, it emerges that a young person is a relevant young person, the Route 16+ Team has the duty to provide the young person with accommodation up until their 18th Birthday.

8.2 16-17 Year Old

  • The Housing Options Advisor contacts the duty worker in the Family Contact Point;
  • Duty worker establishes whether Children’s Services have a duty to the young person or if the young person is a child in need under the Children Act 1989;
  • If the young person is deemed a relevant young person, (s)he will be referred to Children and Families Services;
  • Housing Options Advisor attempts to reconcile the young person with their family, unless the young person is threatened with abuse, violence or significant neglect;
  • No young person will be accommodated by Housing until a home visit is carried out to verify circumstances;
  • If reconciliation is not possible at this stage, the Housing Department provides temporary accommodation;
  • If the young person’s welfare is felt to be prejudiced, the housing officer makes a direct referral to Children and Families Services;
  • The Referral Team then undertakes an Initial Assessment, within 7 days of the referral being made, with input from the Housing Department and any other agency or service connected to the young person. The outcome of the Initial Assessment:
    • Identifies a plan to support the young person whilst placed in temporary accommodation;
    • Assists with longer term planning.
  • Referral Team liaises with the Housing Department following the outcome of the initial assessment. Seek the written consent of the young person to share information using Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership’s Consent Form;
  • Were a young person is placed in emergency Bed and Breakfast accommodation; the Housing Department endeavours to find alternative suitable accommodation as soon as possible.

8.3 Young People Leaving Care

Before a young person leaves care, it is the responsibility of the young person’s social worker to:

  • Address the young person’s housing needs;
  • Develop a pathway plan for the young person to address their aftercare needs;
  • Base this on a multi-agency assessment of the young person’s needs.

Note: Section 27 of the Children Act 1989 states that the local authority can request the help of another statutory authority in complying with its responsibilities including local housing authorities. That authority must comply with the request if it is compatible with their own statutory or other duties and obligations.

Both the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and the Homelessness Act 2002 identify the need for social services and housing departments/providers to develop a strategy in partnership to provide a range of accommodation to meet the assessed needs of young people leaving care.


9. The Joint Arrangement Agreed by Route 16+ Team and Housing for Care Leavers

For all young people for whom Children and Families have a responsibility, the allocated social worker:

  • Assists the young person in completing a housing register form from the age of 16 years;
  • Gains the consent of the young person to include Children and Families’ address as the correspondence address when completing the housing register form. This ensures that any correspondence is dealt with appropriately by the named worker;
  • Informs Housing of each and every change of address for the young person. This ensures that the housing application remains updated;
  • Makes an appointment with a housing officer 3 months prior to the young person’s18th birthday. The purpose of this meeting is for Housing to:
    • Identify future accommodation;

      or
    • Give agreement to take on a duty for existing accommodation. (This will be dependent on the current criteria set by the Housing Department.)
  • Updates the young person’s Pathway Plan at this point and shares it with Housing if the young person’s consent is given;
  • At the monthly meeting between Housing and Route 16+ Team, establishes a joint agreement regarding each individual young person’s needs.


10. Accommodation

Swindon has a number of Registered Social Landlords, who provide supported accommodation for young people.

Housing has very good links with these providers and nomination rights for vacancies to some of these projects. In addition the Housing Department have successfully negotiated 5 emergency assessment rooms within some of these supported housing projects. These rooms are used in a homeless crisis and are a means of accessing longer-term accommodation.

In recognition of some young people’s higher support needs, the Route 16+ Team has developed 15 Supported Lodgings placements, 6 of these are funded by Supporting People. All placements are accessible to both the Route 16+ Team and the Housing Option Team following an assessment of the young person’s needs.

All supported lodgings placements are managed and supported by the Route 16+ Team. In order for Housing to access to these they must make a referral to the Route 16+ Team. A procedure is established for this.

All Supported Housing Providers are asked to notify the Housing Option Team of any likely eviction so that Housing can negotiate or mediate to prevent the eviction.

Young people presenting as homeless have high support needs, which cannot be met alone by project workers in Supported Housing. There are plans to establish a panel involving professionals from Health, Drug and Alcohol Teams, Mental Health, Youth Offending Team, Children and Families and any other relevant agency. The aim of the panel will be to provide a multi-agency support package to the young person to assist them to sustain their accommodation.

See Appendix 3: Supported Accommodation for Young People in Swindon for a list of supported accommodation available.


11. Future Working

This protocol will be reviewed in 6 months to assess its impact on the joint working between all partners.

When protocol agreed training to be provided for Children and Families Services and Housing staff on protocol.

Any change in legislations will be updated in the protocol.

16+ Team and Housing are currently planning to increase the number of supported lodgings placements which will be jointly supported by a worker from the housing department and a worker within the Route 16+ Team. Timescales re this are unclear due to the current review being undertaken of the Route 16+ Team.


12. Signatures

The following have signed up to be part of this protocol:

Swindon Borough Council
Homeless Operations Manager
Nick Kemmett

Swindon Borough Council
Route 16+ Team Manager
Tracie Copperwhaite

Swindon Borough Council
Services Manager (Field Work)
Children and Families Services
Maria Young

Youth Offending Team
Manager
Kevin Leaning

Bromford Housing Association
Service Manager
Janice Bailey


13. The Legal Framework

Multi-agency working is essential if young people in need of housing are to get appropriate services. This need for co-operation is recognised in legislation and accompanying guidance. It highlights an expectation from government that social services and housing departments will forge proactive links with each other, to ensure they can comply fully with the inter-relating pieces of legislation and prevent failures in responsibilities and standards of care.

The main duties to provide accommodation under the statutory homelessness provisions are owed only to those who are actually, or potentially, in ‘priority need’. The Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) Order 2002 came into force on 31 July 2002. The new order provides that homeless applicants coming within the new categories of priority will be accepted for the provision of accommodation unless they are not eligible for assistance under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 or are homeless intentionally.

Section 189(2) of the Housing Act 1996, Part 7 provides that:

  • All 16/17-year-old homeless applicants have a priority need for accommodation except those who are:
    1. A relevant child;
    2. A child in need who is owed a duty under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

Key Statutory Duties are in the Following Legislation

Local Housing Authority Duties

Housing Act 1996 Part VII

Homelessness Act 2002

The Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002

Children Act 1989 Section 27

Children and Families Services Duties

Children Act 1989 Sections 17, 20, 23 and 24

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

Housing Act 1996 Section 213

Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970


14. Housing Act 1996

Parts VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996 set out the legal framework for assisting homeless people and allocating housing.

Section 175: A person is homeless if:

  • They have no accommodation available in the UK or elsewhere;

    or
  • They cannot gain entry to their accommodation;

    or
  • It is not reasonable for them to occupy their accommodation.

Section 185: A person is not eligible for assistance if they:

  • Are a person from abroad who is ineligible for housing assistance;

    or
  • Are subject to immigration control.

Section 189: A person is in priority need if they:

  • Or their partner, are pregnant;
  • Have dependent children;
  • Are vulnerable due to old age, mental illness or learning or physical disability or other special reason;
  • Are homeless as the result of an emergency (amended by Homelessness Act 2002).

Section 191: A person becomes homeless intentionally if they deliberately do, or fail to do, something which causes them to lose their accommodation.

Section 193: Local authorities have a duty to ensure that accommodation is made available to the applicant (amended by Homelessness Act 2002) if the person is found to be:

  • Eligible for assistance;
  • In priority need;
  • Unintentionally homeless.


15. Homelessness Act 2002

This Act amends Parts VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996.  The main changes which impact upon young people are:

  • A duty on all local housing authorities to develop a strategic approach to tackling homelessness;
  • A new duty to provide long-term accommodation for unintentionally homeless people in priority need;
  • The extension of the priority needs groups to include:
    • 16 and 17 year olds whose support networks have broken down irrevocably and who are not owed a duty by social services as a relevant child or a child in need;
    • 18 to 21 year olds leaving care who are former relevant children;
    • People aged 21 or over who are vulnerable because they were formerly looked after by the local authority;
    • People who are vulnerable as a result of violence, being in the armed forces or in prison.


16. Children Act 1989

Section 17 places a general duty on social services authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs.

A child in need is defined as someone who is aged under 18 and:

  • Is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of appropriate services by a local authority;
  • Whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision of appropriate services by a local authority;
  • Who is disabled.

Section 17 (5) allows social services to call upon other agencies (particularly voluntary organisations) to provide services on their behalf.

Section 20 (1) states that every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who requires accommodation as a result of:

  • There being no person who has parental responsibility for him/her;
  • Being lost or having been abandoned;
  • The person who has been caring for him/her being prevented from providing suitable accommodation or care.

Section 20 (3) states that accommodation shall be provided for any child in need who has reached the age of 16 and whose welfare the authority considers is likely to be seriously prejudiced if they do not provide her or him with accommodation.

Section 27 a social services authority can ask a housing authority to help in delivering services for children in need.  The housing authority must comply with such a request to the extent that it is compatible with their own statutory duties and other obligations.

DoH Guidance on the Act recommends that close liaison between social services departments and housing is necessary and may be best achieved through the establishment of formal arrangements.


17. Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

This Act amends the leaving care provisions of the Children Act 1989 and extended the responsibilities of local authorities to care leavers until they are 21 (and beyond in some cases). Young people can continue to be children looked after until they are 18.

For young people who are care leavers, Children and Families Services has a duty to:

  • Maintain, provide suitable accommodation and to support any relevant young person (unless the Authority is satisfied that the young person’s welfare does not require this);
  • Provide all relevant young people with a personal adviser. Following an assessment of need, the personal advisor is responsible for co-ordinating the appropriate services for the young person. This includes meeting their accommodation needs.

The Act removes 16 and 17 year olds' entitlement to state benefits, and transfers the money to the local authority to help pay for accommodation and associated costs.


18. Definitions Under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Legislation

Eligible young people are young people aged 16 and 17 who have been looked after for at least 13 weeks (need not be consecutive weeks) since the age of 14 and who are still looked after on or after their 16th birthday.

Relevant young people are:

  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who have been looked after/on a care order for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14, and have been looked after at some time while 16 or 17, and who have left care;
  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who would have been relevant as above except for the fact that on their 16th birthday they were detained through the criminal justice system;
  • Young people aged 16 or 17 who have returned home, but the return has broken down.

Former relevant young people are young people age 18-21 who have either been eligible or relevant children, or both. If at the age of 21, the young person is still being supported by the local authority with education or training, they remain a former relevant child for the duration of the training or education course.

The Secretary of State’s Code of Guidance describes an expectation that social services and housing departments work jointly to exercise their duties and agree joint protocols to ensure that the intention of the legislation to provide a safety  net for those young people who are homeless through no fault of their own is fulfilled.


19. Children Act 2004 (Every Child Matters)

The main components of the Act are:

  1. The establishment of a Children’s Commissioner to oversee services for children and young people in England;
  2. Information sharing between agencies to prevent children and young people from falling through the net and to identify them for early preventative services;
  3. The establishment of Safeguarding Boards, which will take over from Area Child Protection Committees;
  4. Promoting the educational achievement of looked after children.

Joint protocols between agencies play an increasingly important part in formalising processes between agencies for establishing procedures to enable the sharing of information about children and young people at risk.


Appendices

Appendix 1: SBC Housing and Children Service Procedures Following Southwark Judgement Flowchart

Appendix 2: SBC Housing and Children Service Procedures Following Southwark Judgement - Children Services Process Flowchart

Appendix 3: Supported Accommodation for Young People in Swindon

End