Making the difference for young people moving on from care
leave their care (foster or residential) placement. The young person remains in care, regardless of where they live, until they are aged 18 when the care order is discharged. If a young person was voluntarily taken into care, then a young person may be deemed to have ‘left care’ when they move to a placement that is not a ‘care placement’ and therefore considered ‘de- accommodated’. This is being reviewed with the new Children and Young Person’s Bill, due to receive royal assent in December 2008.
Children (Leaving Care Act) Regulations and Guidance
The mandatory Children (Leaving Care) Act Guidance 2000 states that, although the regulation does not prohibit certain types of accommodation, it would not be appropriate for 16 and 17 year old care leavers to live completely independently. It also adds that bed and breakfast accommodation should not be considered for anything but very occasional short-term use. This is one of the definitions that exist as to what is suitable accommodation for care leavers. There is also a definition relating to the national indicator on care leavers in suitable accommodation, which local authorities complete (see section on Local Area Agreements).
The Regulations and Guidance also stipulates that Councils should take steps to make sure that young people have the best chance to succeed in their accommodation. They should:
avoid moving young people who are settled;
assess young people’s needs and prepare them for any move;
ensure that the accommodation meets any needs relating to impairment;
where practicable offer a choice of accommodation;
set up a package of support to go with the accommodation;
have a clear financial plan for the accommodation and have a contingency plan.
The 1996 Housing Act and the Homelessness Act 2002
The Homelessness Act 2002 built on the 1996 Housing Act and placed a duty on local authorities to make available suitable accommodation for a person who is:
Eligible for assistance (their immigration status is not restricted)
Homeless (or who are threatened with homelessness within 28 days)
In priority need of accommodation (relates to certain categories of
Not intentionally homeless
Has a local connection
A home not a safety net