Homeless 16 and 17 year olds

The Joint Housing and Children and Young People's Service Protocol for dealing with homeless 16 and 17 year olds establishes the roles and statutory responsibilities of the different agencies in respect of homeless 16 and 17 year olds within Calderdale council. The protocol and this accompanying procedure sets out the practical joint working arrangements between the Children and Young Peoples Services, Housing and Green Economy services and other agencies that can assist with the housing and support needs of homeless 16 and 17 year olds or those young people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

It does not apply to the accommodation needs of young people who are in the Care of the Local Authority before their 16th Birthday.


In July 2019, this procedure was revised throughout to reflect the updated Joint Housing and Children and Young People's Protocol for Supporting Young people aged 16 and 17 year olds and Care Leavers.

1. Introduction

The underpinning principle is that all professionals involved with young people will need to work together, in a co-ordinated way to deal effectively with young people who have accommodation needs.

Where possible homelessness should be prevented and all services should focus on ensuring that the young people are supported to remain in their home (where safe to do so) or leave in a planned and supported manner.

The joint protocol ensures the appropriate assessment, decision-making and delivery of services to meet the needs of this group of young people is compliant with the duties outlined in:

  • The Children Act 1989;
  • The Children Act 2004;
  • The Housing Act 1996;
  • The  Homelessness Code of Guidance 2018.

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government jointly issued guidance to children's services authorities and local housing authorities about their duties to secure or provide housing for homeless 16 and 17 year olds. See Provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who may be homeless and/or require accommodation (GOV.UK).

The joint protocol and this procedure will support:

  • Support a clearer understanding of the roles and responsibilities for workers, wider agencies and young people;
  • Reduce the risk of young people being let down by any agency and therefore becoming at risk of exploitation, rough sleeping and other safeguarding risks;
  • Promote their welfare and ensure that no young person is homeless;
  • Provide young people with the support to address their problems and to experience a timely and coordinated response to their needs so that homelessness can be avoided now and in the future;
  • Ensure that young people have access to the most appropriate housing provision and support services to prevent housing need impacting on their wider needs for education employment and training;
  • Make the best use of resources and professional expertise;
  • Ensure that young people are helped at the earliest and most appropriate stage of their housing pathway; and
  • Avoid the use of unsuitable accommodation such as bed and breakfast. 

2. Procedure

All young people aged 16 or 17 who are believed to be homeless or at risk of homelessness should be referred to the Young Persons Housing Team in order that the level of risk of homelessness can be investigated and prevention work can be instigated.

There are two exceptions to this general position:

  1. Where a young person is a qualifying young person under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 or a Relevant Child.
  2. Where the young person is an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker.

In either of the above situations a referral will be made to the Multi-Agency Screening Team (MAST). If the young person is the responsibility of another local authority then the relevant worker in that authority will be contacted. 

3. Young People Presenting as Homeless

A Young Person's Housing Support worker will interview all young people aged 16 and 17 referred to or approaching the Young Person's Housing Support Team.

During the interview the Young Person's Housing Support Worker will commence a young person's housing assessment and gather information about the history and circumstances of the young person and the events leading up to their accommodation difficulties.

The YP Housing Support Worker will make contact with parents and other family members to establish the level of risk of homelessness or the prospects for an immediate return to the family home. The worker may also contact other agencies for information. It is at this point that some discussion may be held around supportive pathways and for the young person and family to be fully informed on the local options.

The Young Person's Housing Support Worker will assess whether there is reason to believe that a young person is homeless or threatened with homelessness.

If there is reason to believe that a young person is homeless on that day, the YP Housing Support Worker will arrange suitable interim accommodation and make a referral to MAST.

MAST will make a decision within 24 hours and will inform the referrer. Where the referral is accepted, a Social Worker will be allocated and will undertake a Child and Family Single Assessment, the YP Housing Support Worker will be informed of the proposed action within 48 hours and a joint visit arranged.

The Social Worker and the YP Housing Support Worker will work extensively with the young person and the immediate and extended family and friends during the assessment period to assess what contributed to the young person as presenting as homeless and will try to enable the young person to return home where safe and where possible.

If the young person has returned home prior to the visit taking place, the allocated Social Worker will undertake the assessment visit at the family home, this will also include the YP Housing Support Worker if there is a concern that this young person could present again in crisis.

If the outcome of the assessment is that the young person is assessed as a Child in Need under Section 17 (10) Children Act 1989:  i.e:

  1. They are unlikely to achieve or maintain,  or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for them of services by the local authority;
  2. Their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such service;
  3. They are disabled.

and they fall into the criteria for Section 20 accommodation 1989 Children Act:

  1. There being no person who has parental responsibility for them;
  2. They are lost or abandoned;
  3. The person who has been caring for them being prevented (whether or not permanently, and  for whatever reason) from providing them with suitable accommodation or care, then consideration whether the child needs to be accommodated under section 20 of the Children  Act 1989 should be taken.

All three criteria above need to be assessed and a clear rationale and evidence ascertained for each.

If a young person is assessed as meeting the criteria for Section 20, and their needs include accommodation, then the Social Worker in consultation with their manager will discuss the option of S20 accommodation with the young person and share the benefits of their accommodation needs being provided under section 20CA1989. The Social Worker will ensure that the young person is aware of their rights and their choices in relation to section 20.

The discussion will be clearly recorded on the young person's record.

The decision to accommodate has to be presented to Gateway Panel following discussion with the young person and, where appropriate, those with parental responsibility as it cannot be initiated without informed consent.

If the young person has refused the offer of Section 20 this must be clearly recorded on the young person's record. The young person should be provided with a letter informing them that they are not looked after by the local authority and their Social Worker has explained this to them, and that they are in agreement with this decision.

If Section 20 status is not applicable, or the young person has made the informed choice not to consent to Section 20 status then they are likely to remain a Child in Need. 

A decision will be made as whether the lead worker is a Social Worker or a FIT worker (at level 4). If the young person is assessd to be at level 1-3 on the Continuum of Need and Response then the lead worker will be from the Early Intervention Service.

All homeless young people will be subject to either a CIN plan or an Early Intervention Plan; The Young Person's Housing Support Worker will be invited to the planning meeting and provided with a copy of the plan. It is envisaged that throughout this process the allocated Social Worker and Young Person's Housing Support Worker will work together in supporting the young persons through their homelessness. 

The Young Person's Housing Support Worker will complete the homelessness assessment and issue a decision within 56 working days and will notify the allocated Social Worker/Lead Professional.

All homelessness decisions will be notified in writing to the young person concerned and information about the right to request a review of that decision included in the letter. The young person will also be advised of sources of independent advice. 

4. Young People Involved with Youth Offending Team

Where a young person appears before Court and is presenting as homeless on the day of the court appearance, the YOT will undertake enquiries to establish whether there are any suitable extended family members or friends able to offer accommodation. If homelessness is established, the YOT will make a referral to MAST, Young Person's Housing Support Team or the allocated Social Worker, as appropriate, for provision of an address and an assessment to be commenced.

If a young person is in custody and it is known that they will be homeless on release, the YOT will make a referral to MAST/ Early Intervention Service 56 days prior to the release date so that an assessment can be arranged in custody in order to secure accommodation on release. The relevant allocated worker will arrange a joint visit with a Young Person's Housing Support Worker.

Unless the young person is subsequently accommodated under Section 20, the Housing Adviser will undertake a homelessness investigation. 

5. The Role of Children's Social Care where a Young Person is Already an Open Case in Children's Assessment Team or the Locality Teams

If a young person who is already an open case in either Children's Assessment Team or one of the Locality Teams, presents as homeless, the Young Person's Housing Support Worker will interview the young person concerned and if they are believed to be homeless will arrange interim accommodation and commence a homelessness assessment. The Adviser will contact the allocated Social Worker or the Duty Social Worker in the relevant Locality Team. A joint visit will take place within 5 working days and, if an assessment is not currently open on the young person, then an updated assessment will be undertaken to address a change in needs/circumstances.

6. Timescales

The Young Person's Housing Support Team will complete a homelessness investigation and issue a decision within 56 working days. Within this timeframe all options will be discussed with the young person to look to establish a supportive pathway which meets the needs of the young person.  To be able to complete assessments within this timescale it is essential that the Children's Social Care assessment is completed within timescale.

A Child and Family single Assessment is up to 45 days.

In respect of any homeless issue this assessment should be completed within the 15 day timescale regarding a decision being made in respect of Section 20 accommodation.

Should delays in completing assessments adversely impact on completion of a statutory homelessness assessment then service managers should contact their counterparts to reach satisfactory agreement.

CYPS will provide a decision within 15 working days on all cases. If the decision is the young person is not a Child in Need a completed assessment will be provided in 15 working days.

If the young person is a Child in Need. then the assessment will be completed within 45 working days.