Preventing Homelessness: Protocol between Knowsley Housing Trust, Family First and CSC
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Is to ensure a joined up approach in responding to the needs of Children and Families in Knowsley who may be at risk of becoming homeless.
AMENDMENTIn December 2019, this chapter was reviewed and updated to reflect local referral processes.
The Homelessness Act 2002 has clarified Local Authority responsibilities regarding intentionality decisions, however, this has often resulted in children also being deemed homeless, which is clearly a concern for both departments regarding the safety and welfare of those children affected. Children & Young Persons Services, under Section 17 of the Children Act1989, have a duty to ensure that amongst other things, children have appropriate accommodation.
All parties to this agreement will know some of the families who are at risk of being homeless due to none payment of rent. In this scenario intervention needs to be co-ordinated effectively to prevent homelessness. Some families may only be known to Knowsley Housing Trust, and Children's Social Care/Family First may not otherwise be involved, without the prospect of homelessness for the children.
Historically, the options for these children have been, in exceptional circumstances, for either a bond to be provided towards a private tenancy, or the children to be accommodated under Section 20 of The Children's Act 1989. Financial restraints mean that a bond, solely funded by Children's Social Care (CSC), is no longer feasible, and removing children from their families on the sole basis of homelessness, would be inappropriate.
Those families where children may be at risk of becoming homeless should be identified at the earliest opportunity, and information should be shared between agencies with a view to planning a preventative strategy:
- Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) will send on a weekly basis to Family First (FF) (see Appendix A: Protocol Flowchart) any families at risk of homelessness with detailed information, including Date of Birth, details of all family members, schools and health information, timescales for eviction;
- Workers within agencies need to work together and be consistent and accurate about the advice they are giving to homeless families, and consult with their respective Team Managers; Homeless families - should be referred to the Housing Options Service (where possible referrals should be made earlier rather than later if the family are at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days). CSC have a duty to refer families/children at risk (within 56 days) of/or homelessness;
- Housing issues should be routinely included in Family First and Children's Social Care workers' screening, as part of the MASH (see: Knowsley MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) Procedure) screening and Single Assessment Information gathering, should be included in all relevant TAF Children In Need meetings, Child Protection Case Conferences, and Pre-Discharge meetings;
- Lead professional from CSC or FF should inform KHT of the outcome of the Assessment and Planning where homelessness has been an issue;
- Periodically, representatives from agencies should attend Team Meetings of partner agency, to share information, and encourage front line worker participation in this evolving protocol;
- Quarterly meetings should be held between Children's Social Care - Head of Service Family First – Service Manager and KHT to monitor the effective working of the protocol.
This protocol will be reviewed on a yearly basis.