Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

2.15 Joint Protocol between Housing Services and Children’s Services for 16 and 17 Year Olds

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Greater Manchester SCB Inter Agency Procedures, Homeless 16 and 17 year olds Procedure

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation (Min. of Housing, Communities and Local Govt. / DfE, April 2018)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2018 to provide a link to the current Guidance ‘Prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation - Guidance to children’s services authorities and local housing authorities about their duties under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989 and Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 to secure or provide accommodation for homeless 16 and 17 year old young people, (Min. of Housing, Communities and Local Govt. / DfE, April 2018)’. This  guidance identifies the respective roles of Children’s and Housing services and emphasises joint working and strategic planning. An Annex identifies ‘Factors to be considered by children’s services when assessing 16-17 year olds who may be children in need’. Please re-reference.


Contents

  1. Background
  2. Legislative Framework
  3. New Procedures and Assessment
  4. Finance
  5. Outcomes
  6. Reporting/Escalations


1. Background

In 2009, it was recognised that a joint protocol was needed to bridge the gap between Children's Services and Sustainable Regeneration directorates to ensure young people aged 16 and 17 years could be dealt with by workers that are young person friendly, who are experienced in working with young people and who can assess all their needs alongside their immediate housing needs.

The aim of producing a joint protocol needs to be more than a written document and should reflect the process and procedures that ensure effective joint working between Salford Housing Options Point (SHOP) and Children’s Services.

The protocol has also been designed to ensure that the outcomes of the Southwark versus G ruling of the House of Lords were able to be met within Salford.


2. Legislative Framework

The Southwark ruling is clear, any 16 or 17 year old presenting as in need of accommodation, should be assessed under Child in Need legislation. This assessment will be undertaken by the Duty and Assessment Team (DAT), unless it is an open case to the CP/CIN team then a social worker on the CP/CIN team will undertake the assessment.


3. New Procedures and Assessment

3.1 By who?

All 16 and 17 year olds presenting in need of accommodation as being homeless to Salford City Council, will be assessed under child in need legislation by a social worker. All 16 and 17 year olds who are due to be released from the secure estate and are ordinarily resident in the Salford City Council boundaries, but where there are issues with rehabilitation home will be assessed by the allocated social worker. This will be a joint assessment which will include housing, Children's Services and the Youth Offending Service. The assessment with 16 or 17 year olds leaving the secure estate will commence prior to their release.

3.2 The assessment

The assessment will be triggered by a 16 or 17 year presenting to any Salford City Council service advising they have no accommodation to access that evening and are homeless. The service where the 16 or 17 year old approaches will fill out and submit online a ‘worried about a child’ form. Once submitted, this will trigger action from Children’s Services to complete an assessment under Child in Need legislation for the young person. The DAT team should contact the referring service to advise when and where they are to carry out the assessment. In the majority of cases the assessment should be carried out the same day that the referral is made. If a social worker is unable to attend the same day to carry out the assessment then the referring service should be notified of this and details of accommodation for the evening relayed.

The assessment should be thorough and robust, so unless the presenting need is overwhelming as to why the young person is not living at home with family (in which case a decision might be made that the young person needs to be accommodated under Section 20 Children’s Act 1989 immediately), enough information can be established to provide the support and assistance required by the young person. The financial capability and independent living skills of the young person need to be assessed thoroughly.

If there are any complications arising from the assessment which involve legal issues then a referral should be made to the legal department of the local authority with the consent / agreement of the DAT Service Manager.

3.3 Placement

Whilst assessments are being undertaken, if Children’s Services need assistance in finding accommodation for a 16 or 17 year old, they can do so by requesting assistance from SHOP. This must only happen for cases where the assessment has identified that the young person does not require a more supportive placement, in which case Children’s Services will provide the accommodation.

The ‘request for assistance referral form’ should be emailed to a SHOP manager, who will then arrange for the 16 / 17 year old to be accommodated that evening. A Housing Benefit form will be completed for the placement by the SHOP officer. This placement is not being made under homelessness legislation. Any shortfall between the accommodation costs and the Housing Benefit claim will be billed to Children’s Service’s on a quarterly basis. The social worker will then make arrangements to assess the 16 or 17 year old the next day (or on the Monday if the 16 or 17 year old presents on a Friday) either at a Salford City Council office or at the emergency accommodation.

3.4 Timescales and communication

The assessment by the social worker from DAT, (or CP / CIN team if the young person is already an open case to them), should be completed within 35 days, during this time the outreach team will be fully utilised to help the young person and their family to resolve the presenting issues. Upon completion of the assessment, Children’s Services will present the outcome to the Resource Panel (who meet once a fortnight) to consider the appropriateness of future accommodation.

There should be continuous communication between the social worker carrying out the assessment, the referring service / officer and SHOP. This will ensure that a young person is not in emergency accommodation for longer than is necessary and also services can liaise to provide support where it has been identified it is needed. Both SHOP and DAT will draw up an agreed information sharing protocol which will include clear guidelines for managers and workers to follow. This will include an up to date list of contact numbers for staff and managers and a step by step flow chart of the process so that it is clear which steps / actions are to be taken.

3.5 Support and Follow Up

If after the end of the assessment period it is clear that the young person cannot return home and needs accommodation, the young person will be formally accommodated under section 20 of the children act 1989.

At this point the young person will be allocated a qualified social worker in line with the looked after children procedures and will be subject to statutory reviews chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

The young person will receive regular social work visits in line with statutory visiting guidelines.

The social worker will also liaise with the accommodation provider.

If the young person is looked after under section 20 of The Children Act 1989 for thirteen weeks or more they will be classed as an eligible child and will receive their social work service from the Leaving care service, Next Step.

If the young person is offered options which are turned down knowingly and after all information is given, they may be deemed to be intentionally homeless should they present to SHOP for a homelessness assessment. In this case, the young person would receive advice and assistance in obtaining accommodation (in the majority of cases via the Young Person Pathway) and would not be owed a duty to be rehoused by Salford City Council. If this decision places the young person at risk again, then the legal team should be consulted again on this matter.

It may be the case that the outcome of the assessment highlights that there is not a social care need and the young person is able to live independently. It must, at this point, be explained to the young person that if there are deemed capable of independent living and deemed to have capacity then a homeless application may result in a finding of intentionally homeless. However, SHOP will assist the young person to access accommodation via the Young Person Pathway.

Note: a young person who is section 20 and wishes to discharge themselves from the local authority’s care, now requires the permission of the Director of Children’s Services.


4. Finance

Initially young people under this procedure will claim state benefits. If after the Children and Families Assessment a decision is made to accommodate the Young person under section 20, the young person will cease claiming state benefits and will then receive a weekly living allowance from Children’s Services.

In agreement with supporting people, Children’s services will be responsible for the rent element of the placement for any young person Accommodated under section 20, living in supporting people funded placements.

Where Children’s services have requested the assistance from SHOP in finding emergency accommodation for a young person they are assessing, Children’s services will be billed at the end of each quarter by SHOP for any shortfall between accommodation costs and Housing Benefit claimed. A record of all costs and Housing Benefit received relating to a young person accommodated in this way will be held by SHOP.


5. Outcomes

5.1 General Outcomes

  • Improve joint working of Housing Services and Children’s Services;
  • To ensure that the service received by a 16 or 17 year old who is homeless is seamless and efficient;
  • To meet Strategic Priority 5 of the Homelessness Strategy (2013-2018) ‘Facilitate effective and coordinated support for vulnerable households’;
  • To meet local indicator 156 to reduce the number of 16 and 17 year olds in temporary accommodation;
  • Meet priority area 4 of the Community Plan - A city where children and young people are valued - investing and focusing resources and efforts into services, activities and opportunities that will support children and young people and help them to achieve their full potential.


6. Reporting/Escalations

The Joint Protocol Working Group will meet on a monthly basis to review all 16 and 17 year olds who have presented in need of accommodation. The purpose of the monthly meetings is to ensure ongoing communication between services and for the sharing of information. Partner agencies and services will be invited to attend the meetings where it is appropriate.

Where it is identified at any stage that the Joint Working Protocol is not being adhered to, then the officer who identifies this must escalate the matter to a senior officer. If the issue is not resolved at this level then the senior officer must escalate the matter to the Service Manager. Contact details for all staff and managers will be circulated to all staff on the frontline for this reason.

End