Homeless 16 and 17 year olds Practice Guidance


Provision of Accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people in Rotherham who may be homeless and/or require Accommodation.

For the purposes of this guidance, the term 'homeless' should be taken to mean "homeless and/or requiring accommodation". The term 'young people' should be taken to mean 16 and 17 year olds.

1. Introduction

This practice guidance is concerned with the functions of CYPS (Social Care) and Housing Services (Key Choices) when a young person seeks help from either Agency because of homelessness. It should be read in conjunction with the Rotherham MBC Protocol for Homeless 16 and17 Year Olds and the 16/17 process map which accompanies this document.

Case law has determined that CYPS is the lead Agency for assessing the needs of young people who are homeless and/or require accommodation; the RMBC protocol establishes a joint approach between Housing Services (Key Choices) and CYPS.

2. Young Person presents at Key Choices as Homeless

When a young person presents as homeless to Key Choices they will:

  • Take initial details in line with usual homeless procedures;
  • Determine that the young person is 16 or 17 years old;
  • Contact the Access Team to:
    • Determine whether the young person is an open case identify any known risks to ensure an appropriate approach and response;
    • Request other known information to inform the immediate assessment of needs.
  • Undertake immediate preventative work including:
    • Home visit and mediation with family as appropriate (utilising information provided by the Access Team) resulting in either;
    • The young person returning home (in which case a referral to Prevention and Early Intervention Services will be made to support young person as being at risk of homelessness);
    • Immediate emergency accommodation is required.
  • Where emergency accommodation is required the Lead Officer will:
    • Make referrals to supported accommodation providers including; Rush House, Nomad, Roundabout, etc;
  • As a last resort Lead Officer will place in Key Choices Temporary Accommodation ('Crash Pad');
  • Make a 'Referral to CYPS for Child's Assessment'.

Key Choices will continue to undertake their initial enquiries under homeless legislation; however, their enquiries cannot be concluded until the outcome of CYPS Child's Assessment is provided to them.

Case law determines that Children's Services duty under The Children's Act, 1989, takes precedence over the Housing Act and, therefore, Children's Services duty must be determined before any decision under homeless legislation can be made.

3. Referrals into CYPS (Social Care) from Key Choices

  • When a 'Referral to CYPS for Child's Assessment' is received by the Access Team, the contact will be:
  • Loaded and recorded under the 'homeless' CIN code;
  • Work flowed/telephoned through to the relevant Locality Team;
  • The Locality Team Manager will review the contact and
    • Ensure an appropriate emergency response;
    • Allocate the case for Child's Assessment within 24 hours.

Note: When young people are placed by Key Choices in Temporary Accommodation (crash pad) they are still deemed to be homeless.

The Allocated Social Worker:

  • Liaises with the relevant Housing Officer;
  • Undertakes the Child's Assessment in accordance with the Framework for Assessment timescales;
  • Establishes whether the young person is a Child in Need and in need of accommodation;
  • Gives due consideration to the wishes and feelings of the young person;
  • Ensures that where the young person is in need of accommodation they present the young person with all the information about the support available through being 'looked after', including leaving care support. The presentation of this information must be clearly documented and the young person should be provided with written information to take away with them;
  • Offers the young person the opportunity of discussing their options with an independent advocate before making any decisions as to whether they wish to become 'looked after' or would prefer to be supported under Section 17;
  • Provides feedback to the relevant Housing Officer on the outcome of the Child's Assessment as soon as possible and within timescales;
  • Where the social worker is unable to meet the housing and support needs of the young person they should request support from the 16/17 Panel Meeting either by contacting the Housing Officer or CYPS representative.

4. Young Person presents at CYPS as Homeless

When a young person presents at CYPS as homeless they should not be redirected to Key Choices. The actions identified from point 3 above should be undertaken in addition to the following actions:

The Duty Social Worker undertakes:

  • All initial enquiries to establish whether the young person is in need of accommodation including emergency accommodation;
  • Preventative actions, including mediation where appropriate, to enable the young person to return home if safe to do so. Consideration should be given to whether the young person can be supported to remain at home by the provision of services under Section 17.
Where the young person cannot return home:
  • The social worker will explore all other placement options for the young person including wider family and friends. Where alternatives are identified the young person should be provided with appropriate support to prevent them becoming homeless in the future;
  • Where a young person has nowhere safe to stay that night, then CYPS must secure suitable emergency accommodation for them. This will mean that the young person becomes Looked After under Section 20 whilst their need for continuing accommodation and support are assessed further;
  • Where the young person is accommodated under Section 20, they will not be eligible for welfare benefits including housing benefit and CYPS will have a duty to maintain them (including the cost of accommodation);
  • The social worker will make immediate referrals to Supported Accommodation providers;
  • Where supported accommodation is not available on the day then a joint assessment referral form should be sent to Key Choices to request accommodation;
  • Key Choices/Housing Solutions will acknowledge the referral the same day and confirm authorisation to proceed with a placement;
  • Where Housing Solutions provide emergency accommodation, pending assessment of the young person, the outcome of the Child's Assessment must be notified to the relevant Housing Officer as soon as possible;
  • Where accommodation is to be provided under Section 20, the temporary charging arrangement will come into effect.

5. Provision of Accommodation under Section 20 or Section 17 of the Children's Act

  • Case law states that where a young person is identified as a child in need (including in need of accommodation) they should be accommodated by Children and Young People's Services under Section 20 of the Children's Act, therefore, making them 'looked after'.
  • The guidance is clear that Children's Services cannot choose whether to support young people via Section 17 rather than Section 20.
  • A young person is, however, able to make that decision providing it is an informed decision and clearly evidenced.

6. Weekly 16/17 Panel Meetings - Supporting and Planning the Accommodation Needs of Young People

Weekly 16/17 Panel meetings are held between CYPS, Housing, YOS and other partners to co-ordinate support and actions in response to homeless 16 and 17 year olds. Social workers are encouraged to attend these meetings to ensure that a planned multi-agency response is provided to young people who do not wish to become looked after under Section 20.