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Medway Young People's Accommodation Protocol


Young People’s Accommodation

         Page 1

1   Section One                                                                       Page   3


                                       Why do we need a Young Peoples Protocol

                                                     Aims & Scope of the Protocol

2   Section Two – Key Principles for Assessment                                       Page   5

3   Section Three - Responsibilities                                                  Page 6

                                                                 Housing Services

                                                               Children’s Services

                                                            Youth Offending Team

                                                      Kent & Medway Connexions

4   Section Four – Initial Approaches                                                 Page 10

                                        Initial approach made to Housing Services

                                       Initial approach made to Children’s Services

    Appendices                                                                        Page 13

                                                 Children’s Services Referral Form

                                                  Housing Services Referral Form

                                                                   Contact Details

                                           Page 2
1   Section One

      1.         Introduction

      This protocol outlines the agreed practices, responsibilities and procedures within
      Medway Council and other agencies, in connection with the housing provision and
      support for homeless young people in Medway.

      The protocol clarifies the responsibilities each agency has under the relevant legislation.
      This is illustrated below:

      1.2        Why do we need a Young People's Protocol?

      A joint protocol in Medway is important because no one agency or council department
      has complete responsibility for homeless young people. Housing Services, Children’s
      Services and the Youth Offending Team (YOT) all deal with young people under
      different pieces of legislation.

      Social Services have a duty 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.

      The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, the Homelessness Act 2002 and Statutory
      Instrument 2002 No 2051 (the Homelessness Priority Need for Accommodation)
      (England) Order 2002, have underlined the need for those with responsibility for Social
      Services and Housing to work more closely together to prevent and manage
      homelessness in relation to young people.

      1.3         Aims

              To achieve better outcomes for young people by sharing information and
      identifying issues at an early stage.
              To ensure a seamless service to vulnerable young people in Medway,
      irrespective of which service or agency they present to first
              To promote co-operation and joint working between services and agencies
              To ensure that, through methods such as mediation, reconciliation between
      young people and their families/carers is achieved wherever possible

      1.4         Young People Criteria covered by the Protocol

      The protocol is designed to cover the following client groups:

                Single 16/17 years old

                                           Page 3
      18- 21 year old Care leavers or single people who are in need or vulnerable
        (Children Act 1989)
      Young people who are in priority need and subject to Housing and
        Homelessness Legislation (Homelessness Act 2002)
      Couples where one or both partners are aged 16/17 years or are aged 18/21
        years and are entitled to after care services under the Children (Leaving Care)
        Act 2000
      Pregnant or expectant16-21 year olds
      Young offenders aged 16/17 years old
      16 to 21 years old parents or expectant mothers.

These are broad group categories only and there is a wide variation of the level of need
within these groups (e.g. mental health problems, learning disability, and substance
misuse issues)

                                   Page 4
2   Section Two

      Key Principles for Assessment

      Within the existing legislative framework authorities are expected and advised to work
      jointly in this instance to provide a holistic service assisting young people.

      The following key principles can be seen as providing a framework within which an
      assessment should be reviewed.

       1.     Young people are in most circumstances, best cared for by their parents or
              relatives. Every effort should be made, where practical, to encourage family
              reconciliation. This implies that when appropriate the young persons' parent or
              other relatives will be consulted as part of the assessment.
       2.     Contact will be made with those who have parental responsibilities only with the
              permission of the young person. If there are concerns about specific child
              protection/safety issues in the interviewer's mind then no contact should be
              made and Children’s Services should be informed immediately, if the initial
              approach is to another agency or service.
       3.     Whenever possible no 16 or 17 year olds should be left without accommodation
              on the night even if 'vulnerability' or 'need' cannot be established.
       4.     In the first instance, accommodation should be at home or a previous
              arrangement with someone from his or her support network, even if only on a
              temporary basis. Only as a last resort should 'emergency bed' space be used.
              In many cases a hostel or bed and breakfast provision for a short period of time
              will facilitate the young persons return home.
       5.     Young people retain separate and distinct rights in law to services provided by
              the different agencies and services. Individual rights to access these services
              should not be diminished in any way by the existence of this protocol.
       6.     Young people may have concerns about the confidentiality of information
              shared between agencies and services. All services have very strict guidelines
              concerning confidentiality, and all information given will be treated with respect.
       7.     Young people may have concerns about giving names of family members and
              others who may be helpful in clarifying information for the assessment. It
              should be stressed to young people that any enquiries will be treated as
       8.     In all dealings with young people, all services and agencies should ensure that
              their respective equal opportunities statements and policies are fully

                                          Page 5
3   Section Three - Responsibilities

    Housing Services responsibilities towards young people
    3.1        Statutory Instrument 2051/2002 extended priority need to a number of new
    categories including all 16 and 17 year olds (except ‘looked after/relevant children’)
    (Children Act 1989/Children (Leaving Care Act 2000) and those assessed as both a
    ‘child in need’ and owed a duty under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and care
    leavers aged 18 to 21 years.

    3.2 An interim duty to accommodate exists if the local housing authority (LHA) has
    reason to believe that the young person may be eligible, homeless and in priority need.
    The authority may carry out initial enquiries to satisfy themselves there is a reason to
    believe the applicant is homeless, before an interim duty arises.

    3.3 (i) if the LHA is satisfied that the applicant is eligible; threatened with homelessness;
    in priority need; unintentionally homeless and has a local connection they have a duty to
    ensure that accommodation does not cease to become available to the applicant;
    (ii) if the LHA is satisfied that the applicant is eligible; homeless; in priority need;
    unintentionally homeless and has a local connection, they have a duty to ensure that
    accommodation is available for the applicant’s occupation (the full housing duty);
    (iii) if there is no local connection the young person may be referred to an area where
    they do have a connection. Housing Services aim to complete inquiries within 33
    working days.

    Intentional homelessness
    3.4 Young people who are assessed as being in priority need and intentionally
    homeless are entitled to advice and assistance and to accommodation for a reasonable
    period to give them the chance to secure accommodation for him/herself with the
    assistance of Children’s Services. A copy of the decision letter re intentional
    homelessness will be forwarded to Children’s Services and to Connexions as soon as
    the decision is made.

    Homelessness prevention
    3.8 Housing Services duty under the Homelessness Code of Guidance 2006 is to try to
    prevent homelessness. Under the housing options approach, the procedure for
    households likely to be eligible and in priority need for homelessness assistance is
    operated as a two stage process, with options and prevention considered first, but with
    safeguards in place where a person is eligible for and requires assistance under
    homelessness legislation.

    3.9 The Code of Guidance states that local housing authorities should consider the
    possibility of family reconciliation, e.g. family mediation, for all 16 and 17 year olds
    (except those for whom Children’s Services have responsibility).

    3.10 The Code of Guidance acknowledges that the process of reconciliation may take
    time; therefore the normal 33 working day target for completing inquiries may need to
    be extended.

                                         Page 6
3.11 If it appears that it might be unsafe for the young person to return to their last
settled address because of violence or abuse, consultation must take place as soon as
possible with Social Services and the police where appropriate. Their advice on whether
attempts at reconciliation are appropriate must be taken into consideration.

Children’s Services’ responsibilities towards homeless young people
3.12 Children’s Social Services’ responsibilities vary depending on whether the young
person is considered to meet certain criteria:

Children in need

3.13 Children in need are defined in section 17 (10) of the Children Act 1989 as:

(a)    those who are unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health
and development, unless the local authority (that is Children’s Services) provides
(b)    those whose health and development is likely to be significantly impaired, unless
the local authority (that is Social Services) provides services;
(c)      disabled children; and
the provision of services under this section does not include accommodation.

3.14 If an initial assessment of a young person identifies that the young person is both
in need and at risk of significant harm then Social Services will carry out their duties
under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 that is they will arrange the provision of a
“looked after child” placement, that is foster or residential care.

3.15 The provision of Children’s Services accommodation, that is foster/residential care
can only be provided if:

      (a) 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
      (b) this is a proportionate response to meet needs.

Leaving care and the Integrated Looked After Children Team

3.16 In Kent any young person who was a looked after child on or after their sixteenth
birthday is the responsibility of the Medway Integrated Looked After Children team
(MILACT). This service has a duty to maintain and support them, and secure suitable

3.17 Since the introduction of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, 16 and 17 year old
care leavers (except lone parents and disabled people) are no longer entitled to claim
state benefits.        Children’s Services is responsible for meeting the
accommodation and maintenance needs of these young people.

3.18 The MILACT is responsible for providing or funding vacation accommodation for
young people aged 18 to 21 in full time education if their term time accommodation is
not available to them. This duty extends to age 24 if the agreed course begins before
the age of 21.

                                      Page 7
3.19 Children’s Services duty to provide/pay for accommodation ends after the young
person reaches 18 years, the remaining duty is to advise and befriend.

3.20 A needs assessment should be undertaken by MILACT within three months after
the young person’s sixteenth birthday in order to prepare a Pathway Plan as soon
afterwards as possible. The assessment forms the basis of planning towards the young
person’s independent living. It will take account of the young person’s needs for
support, health care, education/training or employment. A central issue will also be
future accommodation needs and where the young person hopes to live.

3.21 The Pathway Plan sets the young person’s route to independence and is reviewed
regularly, at least every six months, continuing after they cease to be looked after and
potentially to their twenty-first birthday (or to the age of 25 if they are in higher or further

3.22 Following the young person’s final review, Rainer Kent 16plus Service will notify
the LHA six months in advance if they will require alternative accommodation. This will
enable a planned move to be facilitated and ensure appropriate support is in place to
help the young person sustain any tenancy that is offered.

Services for unaccompanied asylum seeking children
3.20 The majority of UASC will be provided with services in keeping with those
described in previous sections relating to the responsibilities of Children’s Services
under the Children Act 1989.

3.21 The circumstances, eligibility and entitlements of this group of young people are
also impacted upon by their asylum and residence status. The legislation and
application of asylum rules are subject to ongoing revision. A notable exception is any
young person who is granted ‘indefinite leave to remain.’ As a general rule the rights
and entitlements of these former asylum-seeking children are the same as any other
looked after, relevant or former relevant young person.

3.22 If a UASC does not have proof of age and accommodation is sought, then
Children’s Services must conduct an age assessment at this point and notify both the
young person and Housing services. If Children’s Services conclude that the applicant
is not a “child” then they should immediately refer the UASC to Housing Services.

Kent Youth Offending Service

3.23 Medway Youth Offending Service (YOS) is a multi-agency partnership
established by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The purpose of the Youth Offending
Service is to prevent offending by children and young people. Medway YOS works with
young people aged between 10 and 17 years who are offending or at risk of offending,
and whom either the police or courts have referred.

3.24 The service has a Youth Offending Teams (YOT) and is responsible to the Youth
Justice Board and the National Youth Justice Board. The Youth Offending Team
comprises of officers from Children’s Services, the Police, Probation, Education and
voluntary organisations.

3.25 A national performance target covers accommodation for young offenders for
YOS. Performance Measure 12; all YOTs to have a named Accommodation Officer; and
all young people either subject to community intervention or on release from secure

                                      Page 8
state must have satisfactory accommodation to go to.               Therefore suitable
accommodation must be in place before a young person leaves and in addition their
support needs should be assessed with services in place to meet them.

3.26 YOT will work to sustain a young person in his/her existing accommodation
where at all possible and safe to do so. YOT will liaise with the family and providing
reasonable levels of support and referring cases to Medway Mediation in all cases
where deemed suitable As part of this procedure YOT will undertake to give early
notification of potential homelessness situations to Housing Services, Children’s
Services and Connexions where it is possible to do so. Where possible same day or
next working day notification will be made

3.27 YOT will provide notification of release from the secure estate and realistic
notification of early release dates. Such information will be forwarded within 2 working
days of YOT receiving such notification to all involved agencies. Such information will
include offending history, any known risks associated with the client, reasons for current
episode of homelessness or potential homelessness, background information about the
client and any other information it may be reasonable to supply. YOT will ensure that
permission is obtained from the young person prior to the release of any information.

3.28 When a young person is in custody a referral will be made to Housing Services
as soon as accommodation is deemed a problem and Housing Services will be invited
to all reviews along with any housing support providers.

3.29 Housing Services will try to ensure that accommodation is in place no later than
two weeks prior to the young person leaving custody. Where appropriate YOT will then
arrange for the young person to be released on temporary licence to view the property.
The rent for this period will be the responsibility of either Children’s Services or YOT.

3.30 Where it is deemed expedient to do so the YOT practitioner will accompany the
young person to any interview or appointment with another involved agency. YOT will
provide agreed levels of support to each young person who is accommodated or
assisted by one of the involved partners/agencies.

Connexions Kent and Medway
3.31 Connexions Kent and Medway is the government’s information, advice and
support services for all 13 to 19 year olds in England (or up to age 25 for those with a
learning or physical or other disability). This includes guidance on choosing courses and
careers, help on a broad range of issues for example health, teenage pregnancy and

3.32 All young people have access to a Connexions Kent and Medway Personal
Adviser, which for some will involve in-depth support. Personal Advisers work in
schools, colleges, Connexions Kent and Medway Access Points and in the community.

3.33 All 16 to 17 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance (Hardship) must be
registered with Connexions Kent and Medway, providing a link between some of the
more hard to reach clients and specialist Personal Advisers.

3.34   Underpinning Connexions Kent and Medway’s work is a partnership and multi-
       agency approach, which seeks to address the many challenges that face young
       people today.

                                    Page 9
4.   Section Four – Initial approaches

       Initial approach made to housing

       4.1     If a young person approaches Housing Services in the first instance, the service
       will establish whether the young person

             May be eligible, homeless and in priority need
             Will be roofless that night
             Meets the agreed young persons protocol criteria

       4.2     Housing Services will ensure that accommodation is made available on an
       emergency basis to the young person pending investigations, taking into consideration
       the needs of the young person and suitability of the accommodation available. The
       young person may be accommodated in the first instance in emergency accommodation
       until Housing Services secures suitable alternative accommodation.
       If the young person refuses this offer of accommodation the duty on Housing Services
       will end but the young person will be referred to Children’s Services if they are 16/17
       years old.

       4.3     Housing Services will seek to reconcile the young person with their family and
       will refer the young person to mediation services unless it appears that it might be
       unsafe for the young person to return, for example, in cases involving violence or
       abuse. If this is the case, then Housing Services will contact Children’s Services and
       the police where appropriate. Their advice on whether attempts at reconciliation are
       appropriate must be taken into consideration.

       4.4   Housing Services will continue to accommodate the young person throughout the
       reconciliation and/or mediation process. Housing Services aim to complete all
       homeless enquiries within 33 working days but this period may be extended in the case
       of young persons in order to allow additional time for reconciliation.

       4.5   If the young person does not meet the protocol criteria then they will be given
       appropriate advice and assistance (which does not include provision of
       accommodation). They may be signposted to other relevant agencies for further advice
       or support to prevent or resolve their homelessness.

       4.6    Where Housing Services has reason to believe the young person may be
       homeless and is aged 16 or 17, then this will trigger an initial duty and the young person
       will be housed that day in interim accommodation. A referral for a 16-18 year old will
       always be made to Children’s Services when the young person is housed by Housing
       Services, in order that they can determine whether a duty is owed to the young person
       under S20 Children Act 2000.

       4.7    As part of the initial assessment, Housing Services will establish whether the
       young person was a 'Looked after Child' (LAC) on or after their sixteenth birthday.
       They will remain the responsibility of Children’s Services, and are entitled to support
       and advice including accommodation. An immediate referral will be made by telephone
       to Children’s Services LAC team.

                                          Page 10
4.8    Where Housing Services have placed a young person in accommodation and
they consider that the young person has a number of additional needs, a referral will be
made to Children Services on that day. A copy of the referral form is set out at
appendix one.

Initial approach made to Children’s Services

4.9   Children in need are defined in S17 (10) Children Act 1989 as: -

(a)   those who are unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health
and development unless the local authority provides services;

(b)    those whose health and development is likely to be significantly impaired unless
the local authority provides services; or

(c)   disabled children

4.10 Children’s Services will upon receipt of the referral to from Housing Services
have a potential duty under the Children Act and must arrange to interview the young
If Housing Services is not providing interim accommodation for the young person then
Children’s Services must interview the child as a matter of urgency. Children’s Services
should also bear in mind that they have the power to accommodate the young person
pending a decision as to whether a duty is owed, under section 17(6) Children Act 1989.

4.11 If a young person (16-18) approaches Children’s Services first then they will
check whether the young person is the responsibility of the LAC team as a Looked after
child (LAC), or the YOT team as a young offender. If the check reveals that the young
person is the responsibility of one of these teams, then an immediate referral will be
made by telephone to those teams.

4.12 If the young person is not the responsibility of Children’s Services or YOT, then a
referral will be made to Housing Services on the referral form attached as Appendix
Two. The form will be completed as fully as possible, and Housing Services will be
telephoned to notify them that the referral has been made.

4.13 Children’s Services will carry out an assessment of the young person within
seven days and the outcome of that assessment will be shared with Housing Services.
If the assessment outcome is that Children’s Services have the responsibility for the
young person, then Housing Services will provide assistance in securing suitable
accommodation, which will be paid for by Children’s Services.

                                  Page 11
Protocol Agreement Signatories

Signatories of the protocol are:

Housing Services
Children’s Services
Medway Youth Offending Team
Kent & Medway Connexions

  Organisation         Name            Designation          Signature   Date

Housing                            Assistant Director
                  Deborah Upton
Services                           Housing & Corporate

YOT               Juliet Sevior    Assistant Director

                  Rose Collinson   Director of Children’s

Kent & Medway
                  Graham Clewes    Chief Executive

                                         Page 12

         (For children with complex and acute needs – Levels 3 and 4 only)
         Guidance note: Use this referral form if making an urgent child protection referral or you believe a
         child or young person needs to be looked after by the council.

          NB If you are in a pilot area a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) form should be substantially
         completed to support this referral (unless it is an emergency. Please attach the CAF form to this referral
         document. If emailing – please send both documents.

                   CUSTOMER FIRST - ACCESS & INFO

   Your Name:                                                     Tel No:

    Email:                                                        Mobile:

   Designation/Job                                      Your Agency/Service

   Your Address:

    Postcode:                                                Date this referral:

  The Child

   Child/Young Person’s First Name:                           Lastname:

                                                           (please ensure all child’s details are entered on the
   Known as:                                               CAF form if one is attached to this referral)

   D.O.B. (or expected date delivery)                                       Male:         Female:         N/K:

   Child’s Home Address (if known):

                                                           (please ensure all parent/carers’s details are entered
   Postcode:                                               on the CAF form if you are attaching to this referral)

                                                   Page 13
What has happened to the child? (or what do you worry may happen?)

Has the child told you about what’s happening? (made a ‘disclosure’)

How long have there been concerns?

Is there someone else we need to talk to in your agency / service about this?

Why refer now? (any special reason?)
Nb: If there is urgency about a child’s safety,
call relevant emergency service eg. police.

Do you know what makes the problem worse?

Do you know what improves the situation for the child / young person?

                                                  Page 14
Any extended family members who pose a risk to child/young person?

Any extended family members who are positive/protective to child/young person?

Any other information: (eg. do you know if there is current, or previous social work
involvement with this child or any other child of the parents?)

Alcohol/drug use:         Mental health problems:                 Domestic violence:

 Parent’s Learning Disability:            Offender who poses a risk to children:

Other specific parenting difficulty:

What should happen next? (eg. do you have any recommendations for next steps?)

What might happen in your opinion if no service is provided:

Are the parents aware of this referral?             Yes                 No
  The information in this referral form is confidential. Please take care when emailing to
  ensure it is sent to the following email address. Email: ss.access&

  (If you experience any difficulties please contact the Customer First Access and
  Information team on Tel- 01634 334466 Minicom - 01634 333111)

                                       Page 15

Referral Form

 Medway Council Housing Services Referral Form

Academy ref No_____________

1. Personal Details

 Name                                                           DOB


 Tel 1                                           Tel 2

Next of Kin

                  NAME                         DATE OF BIRTH             RELATIONSHIP

 2. Risk issues – Does the tenant/client or their associates present a     Yes          No
 known risk to her/himself or others.

If yes - attach risk assessment

3. Client Group – Please tick all that apply. (If Known)

                Alcohol misuse                      Refugee                   Care leaver

  At risk of domestic violence                  Drug misuse           Mental Health Needs

         Homeless family with           Learning Difficulties             Complex needs
              support needs

                                             Page 16
 Offender/at risk of offending             Physical/Sensory                   Single homeless with
                                                   Disability                        support needs

              Teenage parent            Young person at risk

4. Other Contacts – Please give details of the young person GP, CPN, Social Worker, family
members of friends etc who are involved in their care/support.

 Agency                                Name                                    Tel

 Agency                                Name                                    Tel

 Agency                                Name                                    Tel

5. Referrer’s Details

 Name                                                           Designation

 Tel                                                            Date of referral

6. Reason for referral – Please give details

                                               Page 17
7. Support provided

Please specify what support is currently provided to client by your service.

8. Evidence required – Has this client got:

       Care Plan      - Please provide
       Support Plan - Please provide
       Pathway Plan - Please provide
       Any other evidence you feel may be relevant to your situation

Office use only

    Date referral received                                                     Academy check

Documents received                           Checked                           Name

 Risk assessment
 Support assessment
 Medical assessment
 Case notes

Action Taken:

DATE              NAME                       DESIGNATION                   ACTION TAKEN

                                              Page 18
                                  APPENDIX THREE
                            CONTACT DETAILS FOR SERVICES

Housing Solutions

The team is based at Riverside One; Chatham Contact Point (Chatham Contact Point, Riverside
1, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4SL) and contact details are as follows:

Telephone        01634 333600
Direct Line      01634 333834
Out of Hours     01634 304400
Fax              01634 333598

Supporting People

Telephone      01634 333322
Fax            01634 333200

Children’s Services & MILAC team

If it is considered that the young person has a number of additional needs and an assessment of
their needs is required, a referral should be made via Customer First.

Customer First can be reached directly Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.15pm

Telephone        01634 306000
Direct Line      01634 334466
Out of Hours     0845 762 777


Telephone        01634 8455936

Young Person’s Integrated Team (YPIT)

The YPIT can be reached directly Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

Direct Line      01634 334307
Out of Hours     0845 762 777

                                           Page 19
Youth Offending Team

The YOTAO can be reached directly Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

Direct Line    01634 334466
Out of Hours   0845 762 777

                                        Page 20

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