Making the difference for young people moving on from care
The Homelessness (priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002 extended the categories of those who may be considered to be in priority need in assessing entitlement to accommodation by the housing department. The categories now include:
16 and 17 year old young people who are not relevant care leavers
Homeless 18-20 year olds who were in care at 16 or 17 except for those in higher residential or further education requiring vacation accommodation
Homeless people over the age of 21 who are vulnerable as a result of being in care in the past.
The Homelessness Act 2002 places a duty on housing and social2 services departments to co-operate in the development of a strategy to tackle homelessness amongst vulnerable groups such as care leavers. Joint agreements between housing and social services must ensure that:
Care leavers’ needs are properly assessed
Gaps in provision are identified and
Effective strategic planning takes place to provide and deliver support
Statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness for Local Authorities (July 2007)
The Secretary of State for the Communities and Local Government Department (CLG) produced statutory guidance for local authority housing and social services to enable them to fulfill their statutory functions in respect of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The code identifies that young people leaving care are particularly at risk of homelessness and expects:
That social service departments will supply information about the number of care leavers to housing departments to enable them to draw up homelessness strategies.
That a young person’s pathway plan should address their housing needs prior to that young person leaving care. Where possible housing and social services should be carrying out a joint assessment to inform the pathways plan.
Whether young people leaving care are housed by social services or housing departments is up to the local authority.
2 References to social services include children’s services or leaving care teams to cover individual local authority arrangements.
A home not a safety net