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Bradford Children's Services Online Procedures

Protocol between Housing Services, Leaving Care and other related services on Accommodation for Care Leavers aged 18 to 21

RELATED CHAPTER

Leaving Care Procedure

This chapter was introduced into the manual in May 2013.

Contents

  1. Scope and Context
  2. Agreed Vision
  3. Aims
  4. Objectives
  5. Systems and Processes
  6. Partner Agencies and Roles
  7. Relevant Legislation

1. Scope and Context

Care Leavers are a corporate parenting responsibility and a range of agencies are involved in enabling them to make successful transitions from care placements to independent living. While legal housing responsibilities change at age 18, it is in the interests of all agencies to co-operate throughout the leaving care process in ensuring that care leavers have adequate preparation for leaving care, including the development of tenancy ready skills, access to a range of supported housing and entitlement to suitable independent tenancies.

This Protocol sets out how respective services will work together to promote smooth transitions from care, to provide suitable tenancies and to support young people who become homeless when planned transitions are disrupted.

2. Agreed Vision

That all care leavers are corporately supported in their pathway to adulthood through provision of suitable accommodation that corresponds with their needs and wishes.

3. Aims

  • To provide a range of supported accommodation with tenancy ready work suitable to the diverse needs of care leavers at different stages in the leaving care process and to give access to independent tenancies when required;
  • To enable care leavers to make smooth transitions by promoting positive rather than reactive planning;
  • To acknowledge that individual young people become ready to leave care at different stages between 16 and 18 and to enable young people to remain in care placements until ready to leave;
  • To enable young people to stay put with foster carers at age 18 where wishing to do so;
  • To recognises that the pathway to independent living for some care leavers may be complex, to acknowledges that some care may require second or third chances at living independently and to support;
  • To ensure adequate provision for specialist groups such as care leavers who become parents, those seeking asylum or subject to immigration control and those leaving custody;
  • To ensure that young people leaving the service at 21 or over have safe, permanent and affordable accommodation;
  • To avoid care leavers becoming homeless and to ensure that any care leaver who does become homeless between receives support and access to emergency accommodation;
  • To ensure that ex care leavers who become homeless after 21 have their vulnerability adequately assessed.

4. Objectives

  • Delivery of tenancy ready training, taster flat experience and supported tenancies for 16 and 17 year olds through the leaving care contract scheme;
  • Adequate supply of suitable tenancies from registered social landlords in areas required by care leavers;
  • Access to a range of supported accommodation, including floating support, site based projects and supported lodgings through the Supporting People programme;
  • Continued funding for Staying Put (see also: Staying Put Procedure);
  • Adequate priority given to care leavers in access to social housing (choice based letting and management guided lets);
  • Maintenance of provision for specialist groups through leaving care spot purchasing (e.g. care leavers subject to immigration control who have no access to public funds) or Supporting People (e.g. care leavers who become parents or those leaving custody);
  • Co-ordinated planning and commissioning processes;
  • Relevant and timely information sharing with consent of the young person's consent;
  • Access to housing options and homelessness provision through the Housing Options Service.

5. Systems and Processes

Allocated workers within the Leaving Care Service have responsibility for accommodation finding with young people leaving care and matching accommodation to their needs and wants through pathway planning.

Under the Leaving Care Act 2000, Children's Services are responsible for the accommodation needs and costs of 16 and 17 year old Eligible Young People and Relevant Young People and statutory guidance requires that these young people move into "suitable" accommodation". A range of options are available through the leaving care supported tenancy contract scheme, spot purchased provision, supported lodgings and site based support projects funded through Supporting People, and staying put with foster carers. Alongside other provision in leaving care (such as the Smooth It Out Group), these schemes provide a mixture of preparation work, pre-tenancy support and housing options training. In particular, the contract scheme runs a Taster Flat where young people in care placement can experience the reality of living in a tenancy.

Registered social landlords support the leaving care contract scheme through the provision of tenancies.

Specialist accommodation is available for unaccompanied asylum seekers and for care leavers who become parents. Emergency provision is available for care leavers whose transitions disrupt at 16 or 17 through a separate contract scheme.

At 18, care leavers become Former Relevant Young People and Children's Services no longer has direct legal responsibility for their housing provision. Provision for supported accommodation is made by Supporting People and, under the 1996 Housing Act and 2002 Homelessness Act, the local housing authority has a duty to homeless 18+ care leavers.

Homelessness services, including access to social housing, are currently provided by the Housing Options Service. Care leavers have Band B priority in choice based letting and will be given priority consideration in schemes for management guided letting. There is agreement to notify the Housing Options Service of care leavers at age 16 so that bidding rights under choice based lettings can be backdated for 2 years at age 18.

Supporting People funds a range of provision for different vulnerable groups, including care leavers aged 18 and over. Most schemes are run by the voluntary sector organisation. Care leavers can access these schemes from age16 when making initial transitions from care placement as well as from age 18 when making second or third attempts to live independently.

Leaving care will finance appropriate accommodation for care leavers over the age of 18 whose immigration status is unresolved and who have no access to public funds.

When young people aged 18 and over present as homeless at the Housing Options Service, there will be liaison and exchange of information with the consent of the young person. The intention will be to resolve homelessness through a housing options approach where possible. Where homelessness cannot be resolved in this way, young people are likely to have entitlement to statutory homelessness assessment. In complex cases, a case conference may be held. Out of hours provision is available through homelessness hubs and can be accessed through the Emergency Duty Team.

With the young person's consent, Youth Offending Team, Probation Providers and custodial institutions will endeavour to inform leaving care promptly of release dates in order to avoid temporary accommodation or homelessness on release and leaving care will seek to make early referral to appropriate Supporting People schemes. Where difficulties arise (late notification or no capacity on schemes), leaving care will refer as soon as possible to the Housing Options Service for a housing options review and emergency accommodation if necessary. Again, in complex cases a case conference may be held.

Young people usually exit the leaving care service at age 21, although some in higher education or agreed programmes of training and education may be supported until age 25. Under housing legislation there continues to be a responsibility to treat young people who have been "in care" and are "vulnerable" as priority housing need if homeless. Workers will be aware that single young people in privately rented tenancies, while exempt from the housing allowance shared house rule as care leavers, again become subject to it at age 22 and will seek to address this potential problem before a young person leaves the leaving care service.

All agencies will use the range of existing forums for strategic and operational planning and will seek to identify joint needs and requirements through co-ordination in commissioning processes.

6. Partner Agencies and Roles

Children's Social Care / Leaving Care Service

Support to Looked After young people and Care Leavers to ensure smooth transitions to adulthood through pathway planning. Specific responsibility to provide accommodation for 16 and 17 year old Eligible and Relevant Care Leavers.

Access to Housing

Commissioning and Contact management of homelessness services. Specific responsibility for review of statutory homelessness decisions and discharge of homelessness duty.

Bradford City Centre Project

Voluntary sector partner in provision of TCOY homelessness services for 16 to 25 year olds, provider of housing advice, housing related support and emergency hostel provision.

Incommunities

Bradford's Community Housing Trust and Bradford's largest social landlord.

Supporting People

Commissioner of supported accommodation and housing related support.

Supporting People funded projects

Providers of supported accommodation and housing related support.

Foundation

Holder of SP offenders contract for supported tenancies.

Leaving Care contracted projects

Contracted accommodation providers where Leaving Care hold nomination rights (usually for 16 and 17 year olds).

Youth Offending Team

Young offender services, usually to age 18.

Probation Providers

Offender services from 18 onwards.

Connexions - NEET Tier 1

Advice and intensive support to most vulnerable young people under 19 to achieve EET.

Connexions - EET and NEET Tier 2 (Prospects)

Advice and support on Training / Education / Employment under 19.

LEAP provision within Leaving Care

Dedicated EET support to 16 to 21 care leavers.

Care Leavers Nurse

Health screening and advice.

Drug and Alcohol Team

Advice, assessment and outreach support on drug and alcohol issues.

C Card and sexual health services

Advice and support on sexual health matters.

CAMHS and Early Intervention Team

Advice, intervention and support on mental health issues.

Local authority commissioners

Commissioning and contact management and related support.

See also Bradford MDC Website.

7. Relevant Legislation

1989 Children Act

2000 Children (Leaving Care) Act

2004 Children Act

1996 Housing Act

2002 Homelessness Act

R (SO) v LB Barking and Dagenham 2010