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5.9.8 Use of 'Unsuitable Accommodation' for Young People aged 16 – 21 yrs

IMPORTANT NOTE: THESE OPTIONS ARE TO BE EXPLORED IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN ALL OTHER OPTIONS HAVE BEEN DISCOUNTED AND ONLY BY AGREEMENT WITH THE HEAD OF SERVICE

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter seeks to identify and address those occasional situations when a young person has to be placed in temporary or 'Bed and Breakfast' accommodation on an emergency basis. In this situation, two establishments have been identified that are regularly inspected. Young people in such placements will be visited daily and receive additional support.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Leaving Care Policy

Joint Protocol for Care Leavers

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE, The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (January 2015)

This chapter was added to the manual in May 2015.


Contents

  1. Emergency Temporary Accommodation (Bed & Breakfast Establishments) used for 16/17 year old Children in Care
  2. Care Leavers Aged 18-21 Years Placed in “Unsuitable Accommodation”


1. Emergency Temporary Accommodation (Bed & Breakfast Establishments) used for 16/17 year old Children in Care

Introduction

This policy and procedure addresses those extremely rare occasions when, due to the constraints upon placement availability it will be necessary for Children's Services to place a 16 or 17 year old Child in Care into temporary emergency accommodation (also referred to as Bed & Breakfast accommodation).

This will only be the case when:

  • All other options including extended family and friends have been exhausted and there is no suitable accommodation available;
  • It is an emergency situation;
  • And this will be for as short a time as possible with a clear exit plan in place.

Prior to placing the young person, a risk assessment relating to the potential risks of them being in this type of accommodation must be completed by their Social Worker, agreed by their Pod Team Manager and sent to the Head of Service, Children in Care and Young People's Services. If the allocated worker is unavailable this risk assessment will be completed by the Duty Social Worker and agreed by the Duty Manager.

The efforts made to identify alternative suitable accommodation must be clearly recorded on the young person’s CareFirst record.  If such accommodation is agreed, the basis of the agreement will be placed on the Child’s Record by the Head of Service (or Pod Team Manager if not available).

The Support Through Care Team maintains a record of Bed & Breakfast establishments that have undergone regular announced and unannounced visits to ensure that they provide a suitable and appropriate accommodation. These inspection visits cover:

  • The quality and standard of accommodation;
  • The provision of breakfast and other meals and services;
  • The safety of the accommodation;
  • House rules and levels of supervision are good and enforced;
  • Effective communication between the proprietor and Children’s Services.

The establishments to be used in such circumstances are:

  • The Downs Hotel, Warren Road, Woodingdean, Brighton, BN2 6BB;
  • The Wolsey Hotel, 179-181 Brighton Road, Worthing BN11 2EX.

It should be noted that as from October 2014, “Greenways”, 369 Kingsway, Hove, BN3 4QD is no longer classified as a Bed & Breakfast establishment but as “A Placement in Other Arrangements” (1)  As such it will be the preferred accommodation. See separate Service Level Agreement.

The Brighton and Hove “16+ and Leaving Care Pledge” states that “We will only use Bed & Breakfast accommodation on those rare times when nowhere else is available and only those inspected and approved by us will be used.”

Procedure

The discussion to place a 16 or 17 year old Child in Care into Bed & Breakfast accommodation takes place between the young person’s Social Worker and Pod Team Manager. The decision to use such accommodation will be made by the Head of Service, Children in Care and Young People's Services on the basis that there is no suitable option available.  If unavailable the decision will be made by the Pod Team Manager, Support Through Care Team. The young person’s Independent Reviewing Officer should also be notified of this decision.

If Bed & Breakfast accommodation, other than those approved has to be used, then agreement for another establishment should be sought from the Head of Service. This might be on the rare occasion when there is no vacancy, for example during busy holiday periods or when the young person needing emergency accommodation has been excluded from an approved establishment. Before placing a young person it must be established that sufficient supervision and reporting if missing mechanisms are in place.

Bed & Breakfast accommodation is for emergency use only and is not a placement option. A planning meeting must be held within 3 working days of a young person being placed to look at suitable alternative options. 

A package of support to the young person must be agreed at the time of the decision to place. This will involve at least daily contact using the Tenancy Support outreach services of Downlink YMCA who have agreed to prioritise young people in such accommodation.

The young person should be visited by their Social Worker at the accommodation within one working day of being placed (or by another Social Worker if their allocated worker is unavailable)

Children Act 1989 Guidance & Regulations. Vol 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review - ‘Placement of a looked after child in other arrangements’.  Paras 3.101-3.113

See also: The Care Leavers (England) Regulations (Schedule2) 2010; and

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations (Schedule 6) (2010)

The Young People's Accommodation and Support Pathway for 16/25 year old young people jointly commissioned by Children’s Services and Housing and effective from 1st April 2014 will significantly reduce if not eliminate the use of Bed & Breakfast accommodation for 16/17 year olds by ensuring a greater range of suitable accommodation options. These include:

  • A supported lodgings scheme commissioned from Barnardo’s to provide 10 hosts in Year 1;
  • A 3 year contract with Sussex Nightstop to provide 500 nights per annum with its approved hosts;
  • An SLA with Greenways to provide 4 short to medium term supported housing/supported lodgings type placements.


2. Care Leavers Aged 18-21 Years Placed in “Unsuitable Accommodation”

Introduction

Department for Education guidance issued in March 2014 clarified that accommodation is regarded as 'suitable' if it provides safe, secure and affordable provision for young people.  Accommodation that clearly exposes a young person to risk of harm or social exclusion by reason of its location or other factors is regarded as unsuitable.

Unsuitable’ accommodation is defined as:

  • Emergency accommodation (e.g. night shelter, direct access, emergency hostel) used in a crisis.  It excludes short-term accommodation designed to move young people on to stable long-term accommodation;
  • Bed and Breakfast establishments;
  • Being homeless and temporarily staying with friends as an emergency measure.  It excludes young people in an agreed flat-share with friends with a tenancy agreement;
  • Custody (this is outside the remit of this risk assessment).

Care Leavers placed in or moving to ‘unsuitable’ accommodation will be identified by Support Through Care Team Information Officer on their CareFirst record and subsequently by weekly performance reports run by the Performance Analyst, Social Care.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment plays a key role in identifying potential risks to the young person and is the first step towards managing and minimising them. It is important that thorough consideration is given to all aspects of the young person’s current accommodation in connection with its unsuitability.

A risk assessment must be completed by the young person’s Social Worker or Personal Adviser:

  • Within 2 working days of young person being placed in ‘unsuitable’ accommodation;
  • When a new risk has been identified since the previous risk assessment;
  • When the placement has lasted 4 weeks, a new risk assessment should be completed.

The Pod Team Manager must be involved in this risk assessment and agree actions to manage and minimise risk.

Click here to view the 'Unsuitable Accommodation' Risk Assessment Template

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