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5.9.6 Joint Protocol for Care Leavers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This protocol sets out how Brighton and Hove City Council will meet the accommodation needs of those young people aged 18+ years who have been looked after under Sections 20 or 31 of the Children Act 1989.

The Protocol will ensure compliance with the Corporate Parenting Responsibilities of Brighton and Hove City Council.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Leaving Care Policy

AMENDMENT

This protocol updated the chapter in May 2015 and was revised by Emily Ashmore, Temporary Accommodation Manager (Supported), Verity Walker, Homemove Manager and Dermot Anketell, Pod Team Manager, Support Through Care and Corporate Parenting and will be reviewed.

The Update fully revises the referral process to Housing Options Service and acknowledges the differing roles and responsibilities between the Social Care and Housing Department staff. The protocol seeks to reflect a corporate approach to supporting young people leaving care with regard to accommodation.


Contents

  1. Aim of the Protocol
  2. Protocol Procedure


1. Aim of the Protocol

To ensure that the corporate responsibilities for meeting the diverse accommodation needs of  young people who have been Looked After by Brighton and Hove City Council are met.

The protocol ensures that anti-discriminatory practices are in place and that the equality policies of Brighton and Hove City Council are at the centre of meeting young people’s  housing needs.

The Protocol ensures compliance with the Corporate Parenting responsibilities of Brighton & Hove City Council. Corporate Parenting involves members and officers of the whole Council and its partner organisations acting as a good parent and working together to improve the lives of all children and young people in care and those who have left its care.


2. Protocol Procedure

Prior to leaving accommodation facilitated and funded by Children’s Services. Referral to Housing Options Service.

This protocol will avoid using the homeless route, which is inappropriate when assessing and meeting the housing needs of this group of young people. Approaching the time that the identified and agreed  placement of a young person is due to end, Children’s Services and Housing will work together to ensure that their housing needs are met.

This protocol also allows for a young person in a ‘Staying Put’ arrangements  to be assessed for housing. In these cases Children’s Services will refer the young person to the Housing Options Manager (Families & Young People) four months before that placements is due to come to an end.

Children’s Services will complete with the young person either process below:

  1. Where the young person has assessed support needs and requires supported housing :
    • A Housing Referral form including integrated Risk Assessment;
    • A copy of the accommodation section of the Pathway Plan; or
  2. Where the young person has been assessed as being able to live independently in a general needs tenancy:
    • A completed Joint Housing Register Application Form (application for registration to the Choice Based Lettings Scheme);
    • A Risk assessment;  
    • Accompanying documents (2 forms of ID, a birth certificate or passport and documentation giving proof of current address);
    • A copy of the accommodation section of the Pathway Plan;
    • Evidence that the young person has completed an Independent Living Skills Course

NB. Referrals for both (a) and (b) must be made four months ahead of required need and no assessment for housing will start until all documents are received and receipt acknowledged by the Housing Options Manager.

The young person's Children’s Services allocated worker will send the above forms to the Housing Options Manager (Families & Young People). The referral will identify the worker who will be in continuing contact with that young person up to the age of 21 years.

The referral will be allocated to a Housing Options Officer who will meet with the worker and the young person to discuss and assess housing options. The aim is to ensure that the most suitable and appropriate housing option is offered.

Identifying a Suitable Housing Option     

An offer of a self-contained unsupported flat may not be the most appropriate form of accommodation for a young person. Accommodation with a supported housing provider or a private sector tenancy (with floating support) may be also be explored as a suitable option.   

Where the young person is assessed as requiring supported housing  the Housing Options Officer will make a referral to the Supported Housing Panel (see “Brighton and Hove Young People’s Pathway – Allocations Procedures”).

Where appropriate, the Supported Housing Panel will place the young person on the waiting list for supported housing. In exceptional cases the support needs and/or risk assessment may deem mainstream supported housing unsuitable. In these cases, discussion will need to take place to determine the provision of accommodation by Housing and level of support by Children’s Services.  When a suitable offer of supported housing can be made, the Support Access Officer will notify the Children’s Services worker with detail of the offer to ensure that the young person  is immediately made aware of the offer.

Where the young person, after a period in supported housing evidences that they are able to live independently in general needs accommodation, the Children’s Services allocated worker should submit all information outlined in 2.1.3 (b) to the Housing Options Manager.

If the Children’s Services worker and the completed risk assessment evidences that the  young person  is able to live independently in general needs housing, the  Housing Options Officer will pass the application to the Homemove Manager for confirmation. Once this has been agreed it will be processed onto the Joint Housing Register by the Homemove Team and this will enable the  young person  to bid for properties under the 'Homemove' Choice Based Lettings Scheme. The  young person will be placed in Band ‘A’ for 6 months and will be notified in writing of registration on the scheme, with a copy sent to the worker.

The Homemove Team will place a note on any offer that is made so that the landlord will know who to contact should they wish to attend the viewing and sign up for the tenancy or inform at an early stage should tenancy related issues arise.

Sustainment of Accommodation

This section follows the principles of the prevention of homelessness as outlined in Brighton and Hove's Youth Homelessness Strategy and Brighton and Hove's Protocol for the Prevention of Evictions in Supported Housing for young people.

After a  young person  is allocated a tenancy, it is important that every effort is made to prevent this from  breaking down. If the young person enters either the general needs or private rented sector they can be referred for floating support and should be encouraged to engage with such support. Moving into independent accommodation can be unsettling and it is important that a young person has appropriate support available.

In most cases Children’s Services support comes to an end when the young person reaches 21 years (or 25 years if in continuing education). Prior to this support ceasing and if the young person has their own tenancy, their worker will carry out a review to assess how they are managing.  If there are no tenancy related issues, the case will be closed and the worker will notify the landlord who to contact in Children’s Services if the young person has any tenancy related issues up to the age of 25.

In such cases Children’s Services will then assess who would be best placed to provide the support to enable the young person to maintain their tenancy in the long term.

Emergency Homelessness

One significant aim of this protocol is to avoid situations when a young person suddenly becomes homeless. Supported housing  providers should follow the Eviction Protocol and refer the young person’s case to the Evictions Prevention Panel as soon as it becomes apparent that  their licence is at risk of breaking down (see Sustainment of Accommodation above). However, there are occasions when a  young person may suddenly become homeless, for example due to violence or severe anti-social behaviour. In such cases emergency accommodation will be made and a homeless application opened. 

The aim is to avoid using temporary emergency accommodation, except in those cases where no suitable alternative is available. If a young person is placed in such accommodation and floating support is not in place the Housing Options Officer should make an immediate referral for such support.

The Homeless Persons Unit (HPU) will adopt the role of a tolerant, dependable and available parent and be mindful of its responsibilities as a Corporate Parent. In adopting this role the HPU will make every effort to ensure that young people do not become homeless as a result of an ‘intentionally homeless’ decision under the homeless legislation. Temporary accommodation can continue to be provided following an 'intentionally homeless' decision, where the Children’s Services worker makes a Service Level Agreement referral and confirms to the Temporary Accommodation Allocations Manager that Children’s Services accept funding liability over and above the Housing Benefit level payable for this accommodation.  

Where homelessness is threatened due to the behaviour/conduct of the young person whilst in temporary accommodation, a very quick assessment is required to ensure that the appropriate package of support is provided by the Children’s Services worker to enable the placement to continue. In such cases the Housing Options Officer will convene an urgent case conference.

End