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3.1.2 Provision of Accommodation


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Assistance to Families
  3. Suitability of Accommodation
  4. Procedure for the Provision of Accommodation under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989


1. Introduction

  1. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, allows local authorities to provide a range of services to meet the needs of children in need, including the provision of accommodation. Accommodation will usually be provided under this section when a child is being accommodated with their family;
  2. Children and young people who are assisted with accommodation under section 17 of the Children Act are not deemed to be looked after by the local authority. They are not, therefore, subject to the provisions of Section 22 of the Act which sets out the general duties of a local authority in respect of Looked After Children.


2. Assistance to Families

  1. A person is considered homeless if they do not have accommodation that they have a legal right to occupy, which is accessible and physically available to them and their household, and which it would be reasonable for them to live in. Homelessness legislation requires housing authorities to provide advice and information about homelessness, and preventing homelessness and also to assist individuals and families who are homeless and apply for help. Families with children are considered to have a priority need for accommodation, and if they become homeless, the housing authority must ensure that suitable accommodation is available to them;
  2. However the housing authority’s duties towards a homeless family will be limited in some circumstances, including when the family is deemed to be intentionally homeless. This will apply if the homelessness is a result of a deliberate act or omission by the person, such as the non - payment of rent leading to the family being evicted. In circumstances where a housing authority is dealing with the homelessness application from a person whose household includes a child under the age of 18 years, and the applicant is intentionally homeless or does not appear to be eligible for assistance, the housing authority has a duty to seek agreement from the applicant to make a referral to social services so that consideration can be given to providing assistance to the family under the Children Act 1989;
  3. When an ineligible or intentionally homeless family request assistance from social services, an assessment of needs of the children should be undertaken in accordance with the Working Together to Safeguard Children. This may result in a decision to provide temporary accommodation, or money towards the cost of accommodation under section 17 of the Children Act 1989;
  4. In cases where help has been provided to a family to acquire accommodation which is located outside of the administrative area of the Council, the local authority in whose area the accommodation is located must be informed unless there is a strong reason for believing that this would not be in the best interests of the child(ren) concerned. East Riding of Yorkshire Council will continue to hold responsibility for the case, unless there has been a formal transfer of responsibility to the other local authority.


3. Suitability of Accommodation

  1. Where accommodation or money towards the cost of accommodation is provided under section 17, there is a responsibility to ensure that the accommodation is suitable for the families and children for whom it is intended. Chapter 17 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities sets out factors that should be taken into account when considering whether accommodation is suitable;
  2. The accommodation must be suitable in relation to all members of the household, taking account of any medical and/or physical needs and any social considerations, including any risk of violence or racial harassment. Bed and breakfast accommodation will generally afford residents only limited privacy and may lack important amenities such as cooking and laundry facilities thus can cater only very short-term stays. Living in bed and breakfast accommodation can be particularly detrimental to the health and development of children, and placement in this type of accommodation should be kept to the minimum period possible. When bed and breakfast accommodation is utilised, residential should be able to use their bedrooms during the day, and have adequate access to cooking facilities. When families with young children are accommodated, the facilities should include safe play areas, which are located away from sleeping accommodation and cooking areas;
  3. Housing authorities have a duty to assist social care services, when requested to do so, by providing advice and assistance. This may involve help with locating suitable accommodation and making an inspection on property to ensure that it meets adequate standards of fitness and safety.


4. Procedure for the Provision of Accommodation under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989

  1. The social worker should complete a Single Assessment of the child/young person’s needs, to ascertain whether it will be appropriate to provide assistance with accommodation;
  2. The decision whether the child/young person can be provided with assistance with accommodation under section 17 should be made following discussion with the Team Manager;
  3. Following a decision that assistance with accommodation should be provided, the social worker should seek advice and assistance from the housing department to:
    1. Identify appropriate accommodation for the family or the young person;

      or
    2. Where accommodation has been identified by the service user themselves, request that the property is inspected to check that it meets adequate standards of fitness and safety.
  4. The social worker must visit the property to inspect the accommodation within 1 week of the family moving in. The social worker should make an assessment of the suitability of accommodation, taking into account the matters referred to in Section 3, Suitability of Accommodation. Details of the assessment should be recorded on Azeus. The record should include details of any action that is being taken to address any concerns;
  5. The social worker must visit the accommodation to reassess its suitability within 48 hours of receiving any information that may suggest the accommodation is no longer suitable. Details of the reassessment should be recorded in the case file on the diary sheet. The record should include details of any action which is being taken to address any concern;
  6. When, following a visit to the property, the accommodation is considered unsuitable, and it was obtained with assistance from the housing department, the Housing Services Manager should be informed in writing of the assessment. If necessary, the social worker should clarify what action will be taken by the housing department in response to the letter, and record the details in the case file on the diary sheet;
  7. When assistance is provided with accommodation which is located outside of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the social worker must inform Children’s Social Care office in the area where the accommodation has been given;
  8. When assistance is provided with accommodation which is located outside of the East Riding of Yorkshire and the young person is not accommodated under Section 20, the case must not be closed until written confirmation has been received from Children’s Social Care Services in the area to which the young person moves that they accept the transfer of responsibility for the case.

End