South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

5.7.7 Supported Lodgings Statement of Purpose

AMENDMENT

This chapter was revised and updated in August 2018 and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Context
  2. Relevant Guidance and Legislation
  3. Aims
  4. Objectives
  5. Scope
  6. Recruitment and Initial Enquiry Process
  7. Assessment Process
  8. Approval and Panel Process
  9. Referral Procedures for Young People to Scheme
  10. Placement Procedures
  11. Claiming Housing Benefit at 18 for the Young Person
  12. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
  13. Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Procedures


1. Context

The Wiltshire Council Supported Lodgings Scheme has been developed in response to The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and is underpinned by the Children Act 1989. The main purpose of the Children (Leaving Care) Act is to improve the life chances of young people living in and leaving care. The Children Act 1989 places duties on Local Authorities towards looked after, and previously looked after, children as they leave the care system. These duties include meeting their accommodation and personal needs. Research shows that many young care leavers are disadvantaged by trying to live independently much sooner than their contemporaries, and because there is insufficient suitable and affordable accommodation available.

The Scheme aims to make provision for those young people aged 16+ (who are eligible for services under the act) who are ready to leave care but would benefit from living within a family environment, where they are supported and provided with opportunities to improve their independent living skills.

The Scheme can also be accessed by vulnerable young people aged 16 and 17 who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, meeting the requirements of the Homelessness Act 2002 and the R (G) v Southwark Judgement 2009 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Supported Lodgings encompass a range of accommodation, offering the support which meets the individual assessed needs of the young person as set out in Section 23(2) of the Children Act 1989.

Supported Lodgings provide a young person with a room of their own in a private home where they are a member of the household, but are not expected to become a member of the family. The Supported Lodgings Provider ensures that there is a safe and supportive environment, working alongside professional services to help and support the young person in gaining skills for independent adult life. The young person has use of shared facilities within the house and arrangements for the provision, or sharing, of meals will be made.

The Supported Lodgings Provider does not have parental responsibility for the young person. However, they do have responsibility for supporting their progress, reporting any concerns to the young person's Social Worker and Personal Adviser and maintaining regular contact with the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker.


2. Relevant Guidance and Legislation

  • The Children Act 1989;
  • The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • The Children (Leaving Care) Regulations 2001 (Regulation 11);
  • Guidance to the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • Homelessness Act 2002;
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.


3. Aims

The aims of Supported Lodgings placements are to provide accommodation, support and guidance, within a family context, for older children and young people where fostering is not an appropriate option. As the young person is resident in the home of the Provider, there is an expectation that the Provider will see the young person each day or, when it has been agreed that they will be away from the house, there will be agreed contact arrangements. Where these are not adhered to by the young person, the Provider will be expected to report this situation to others working with the young person and the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker. The broad aims of the scheme are as follows:

  • To provide young people leaving care and homeless 16 and 17 year olds, with a safe and supportive environment which facilitates the development of practical skills and emotional stability needed to live independently, considering their needs in relation to education, health, identity, emotional wellbeing and relationships as detailed in the Pathway Plan, Needs Assessment or other relevant assessment, to support the framework for assessment;
  • To ensure that placements promote stability and positive outcomes for young people by working in partnership with the Providers, young people and other professionals involved in care planning and service delivery to the young people on the scheme;
  • To enable Supported Lodgings Providers, through assessment, supervision and training, to provide support, encouragement and guidance that will enable the young people to make the transition to adulthood, progress to independent living and make a full contribution to society;
  • To enable Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People to be safe and supported upon their arrival in Wiltshire, allowing appropriate longer-term planning to take place.


4. Objectives

  • To recruit and assess Providers, using the appropriate Fostering Regulations and standards to support the framework for assessment, to provide supported Lodgings for young people aged 16 - 21 and older, according to statutory requirements;
  • To work in partnership providing a seamless transition from care to independent living with support;
  • To supervise, support and train Supported Lodgings Providers who have been approved by the Foster panel, enabling them to understand and meet the needs of the young people in their care;
  • To ensure the Placement Plan and Placement Agreement are agreed and met by all parties throughout the placement, that they are in accord with the Care Plan or Pathway Plan and that they are reviewed regularly;
  • For the Supported Lodgings Provider, and others, to work together with the child or young person to develop their independent living skills using appropriate means of assessing ability. This will include developing life skills to enable young people to understand household budgets and the benefits systems, and set goals in education and future careers that are achievable and deliver self-confidence;
  • To Embrace a supported living model where each child or young person can start, and then continue, to make their own decisions about their lifestyle and life choices;
  • To Follow a person -centred planning approach with clear goal setting and problem solving about the child or young person's future;
  • To develop strong links with communities to ensure that children and young people have an appropriately diverse and safe social network;
  • To work in partnership with children and young people in preparing them for their move to independent living in a planned way.


5. Scope

The Supported Lodgings Scheme is part of Placement Services, within the scope of the Fostering Team. The designated Supported Lodgings workers are line managed within the Fostering Team; overall responsibility rests with the Head of Service, Care and Placements, a Service Manager manages the Fostering Team Manager and there two Assistant Team Managers in the Team. This provides a robust structure and clear accountability for the Scheme. In addition, the Scheme will:

  • Provide a range of supported Lodgings accommodation, offering the support which meets the individual assessed needs of the young person as set out in Section 23(2) of the Children Act 1989;
  • Make provision for those young people aged 16 – 21, or older where eligible, who are ready to leave care, and, where appropriate to do so, accommodate vulnerable young people aged 16 and 17 who are homeless or threatened with homelessness;
  • Increase the capacity of the scheme to provide sufficient Supported Lodgings placements for vulnerable children and young people in line with eligibility to the Scheme including the provision of accommodation for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People where it is assessed as appropriate to do so;
  • Hosting information events, Recruitment campaigns and advertising, to actively promote the Supported Lodgings Scheme and develop the service offering more capacity and location choice to vulnerable young people;
  • To work with the Fostering team and others to develop a seamless transition from Fostering when moving onto Supported Lodgings;
  • Develop links with other agencies and partners to facilitate direct referrals from the scheme to other projects or for move-on to the appropriate independent accommodation when the time is right;
  • Recruit Supported Lodgings Providers who, within their approval, can offer emergency accommodation allowing for a planned move-on;
  • Ensure that all Supported Lodgings Providers are adequately supported and supervised so that they can offer optimal support to children and young people whilst ensuring that their own families are supported and safeguarded.


6. Recruitment and Initial Enquiry Process

Initial Enquiry

Whereever the Initial Enquiry comes from (e.g. through Fostering recruitment, from the internet, Wiltshire Council web pages or through Supported Lodging advertising), the worker who picks up the enquiry will email the Potential Supported Lodgings Provider's full contact details to the supportedlodgings@wiltshire.gov.uk email address where the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will have access to make the initial contact with enquirer.

  • The Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will contact the Potential Provider within 24 hours of the initial enquiry and discuss the Supported Lodgings scheme at length; expectations, training, finance etc. If the Potential Provider Supportedlodgings@witlshire.gov.uk wishes to progress, a date is arranged for an initial visit to occur within 5 working days;
  • If the Potential Provider is not known they will be added to children’s Services database. Information will be saved to the potential Provider’s record and required checks will be completed. the Potential Provider will be allocated to the team and to the relevant Supervising Social Worker for assessment;
  • If the Potential Provider is known to the Authority, supportedlodgings@wiltshire.gov.uk the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will then be responsible for checking the information relating to the Potential Provider to determine whether the application can proceed;
  • If the Applicant is known to the Local Authority, a discussion is held between the Fostering Team Manager or an Assistant Team Manager and the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker as to their suitability. If the decision is made to proceed, the Supported Lodgings Social Worker will confirm the Initial visit to the Potential Provider. If the decision is made not to proceed the Applicant will be informed, with the reason, verbally and in writing by the supported lodgings Supervising Social Worker;
  • At the initial visit to the applicants’ home, the worker will discuss the Supported Lodgings Scheme and the assessment process in detail and check the bedroom available;
  • If the potential Provider wishes to progress and is suitable for the Scheme, they will be provided with the Supported Lodgings Application Form; covering letter of interest; leaflet about Supported Lodgings and consent forms. The potential Provider will then sign and complete the Application Form and Consent forms and return them as indicated;
  • The Supported Lodgings Social Worker then contacts the potential Provider to start the full assessment.


7. Assessment Process

There is a comprehensive assessment used to assess Supported Lodgings providers. To bring rigour and parity to similar assessments and Because the role of the Supported Lodgings Provider involves supporting vulnerable children and young people, the assessment requires detailed information about the Providers and their family. The Potential Supported Lodgings Provider will be asked questions relating to why they want to be a provider, their background and life experiences, their skills and how they will meet the needs of the young person living within the household.  The Fostering Coram/BAAF Form F has been adapted to meet the Supported Lodgings needs, using the relevant sections of the Fostering national minimum standards.

  • Stage 1 of the Assessment involves taking up references and completing medical and DBS checks. Information will be gathered about the family household and its members; their identity; detailed information about the accommodation as well as noting any prior applications to the Local Authority;
  • Stage 2 of the process will take place over several visits where more detailed assessment is carried out about the potential provider: the likely impact upon their household, their experience in caring for children and young people, their experience of supporting independent living skills and their understanding of Identity, Diversity and of young people’s needs and issues. Attention will be paid to the likely needs of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People;
  • Stage 1 and stage 2 of the assessment will normally be completed within four months. The potential provider will be informed within 10 working days of all the information required for stage 1 being received if they can, or cannot, progress to stage 2;
  • When the assessment is completed the supported lodgings Supervising Social Worker will submit it to the Fostering Team Manager for approval, prior to submission to Foster Panel;
  • The assessment report will be presented to the Foster Panel, with a recommendation, by the assessor regarding the potential provider’s suitability to become a supported lodgings Provider. The Potential Provider will be given a copy of the report;
  • If at any point during stage 2 it appears from information gathered that the Potential Provider may be unsuitable to provide supported lodgings a brief report will be written and presented to the Team Manager. A copy of this will be shared with the potential provider;
  • At any point during stage 2 the Potential Provider may withdraw from the process and the assessment will be discontinued.


8. Approval and Panel Process

Information is available to Foster Panel members regarding the role and expectations of a supported lodgings provider. This ensures that when the panel considers a supported lodgings assessment, there is no confusion between the roles of a foster carer and a supported lodgings provider.

When the completed Application is received, the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will follow procedures for booking a place on the Foster Panel.

  1. Bookings are made via Placementservicespanels@wiltshire.gov.uk or by discussion with the Panel Administrators;
  2. If a Panel is over-subscribed. the Service Manager - Placement Services will advise the Panel administrators of the priority. Any prospective provider removed from the over-subscribed Panel will be offered the next available Panel date or where demand is such an additional Panel may be convened.
  1. A booking email will be generated by the Panel administrators and sent to the relevant Social Worker. This will include dates of submission for papers and a list of required material for the assessment item;
  2. A reminder of the deadline will be sent by the Panel administrators one week prior to the submission deadline;
  3. Submitting Paperwork:
    1. All paperwork should be collated into the order it should be read by the Panel and submitted to the Panel administrators electronically as one bundle, including signed pages;
    2. All parts requiring signatures should be signed by all concerned before submission;
    3. If there is a reason why paperwork cannot be signed by the applicants (e.g. they do not live locally) the assessor is required to bring a signed copy on the day of Panel for the attention of the Panel Chair;
    4. In exceptional circumstances, paperwork not ready on time will be granted an extension by the Service Manager - Placement Services.  However, this must be discussed before the deadline date.
  4. If paperwork has not been submitted on the deadline date and the Panel Administrators have not been informed that an extension has been agreed, the agenda item will be removed and booked onto the next available Panel date.

The Foster panel will consider the assessment in the usual way, considering the strengths of the application, the experience of the Providers and why they are seen to be suitable to look after children or young people. Where there are questions or concerns, these will be identified and challenged by Panel with the potential Providers. After deliberations, Panel will reach a recommendation, with reasons,*  which will be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker who will make the final decision about approval. Recognizing that it is not a requirement to make decisions in this way, it has been decided that the rigour provided by mirroring the assessment and approval route for foster carers represents best practice.

Once providers are approved, they will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who will be their first point of contact. This person will supervise and support the Provider, ensuring that monthly supervision takes place and is recorded. They will carry out an unannounced visit and annual review with the Provider.


9. Referral Procedures for Young People to Scheme

Having completed the assessment, approval and training process to become a Supported Lodgings Provider, careful consideration is given to who can be placed with Providers.

Eligibility

  • Those eligible to access the Supported Lodgings Scheme can have a range of legal status: Care Order, accommodated, a Child in Need, former relevant, qualifying care leaver. They must be in training, education or employment or be actively seeking the same and they should have a Care Plan or Pathway Plan supporting the move to Supported Lodgings, supported by a Single Assessment;
  • The child or young person’s Social Worker or Personal Advisor will discuss the suitability of Supported Lodgings with their Manager. The Manager signs the completed Universal 16+ referral form, adding a comment.

Referral Process

The Social Worker or Personal Advisor for the young person completes the 16+ referral form and emails it to FPduty and to the Supported Lodgings (supportedLodgings@wiltshire.gov.uk) inbox.

  1. FPduty will save the referral documents;
  2. The Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will identify a suitable Provider based upon the information provided and any required further discussion with the referring worker;
  3. Where possible, an introductory meeting with the supported lodgings Supervising social worker, supported lodgings provider, and young person with their social worker or personal advisor is arranged before a young person moves in. An overnight stay may help to see if the young person likes it there and that they all get along;
  4. If it is agreed to proceed, the social worker or personal advisor will inform the supported lodgings (supportedlodgings@wiltshire.gov.uk) Supervising Social Worker. If the Supported lodgings provider is also in agreement a planned move is arranged;
  5. Once in placement the Social Worker or Personal Advisor must provide the appropriate support to the young person dependent on their level of need.

Emergency Placement

Emergency Placements should be an exception, but it is accepted that it may be necessary to request an admission in an emergency. There is no time limit on the duration of such arrangements but they must be regularly reviewed and risk assessed, particularly during the earliest days of the placement being made.

In the event of out of hour's accommodation, if there is a suitable Supported Lodgings Provider able to take emergencies and where the arrangement is made by the Emergency Duty Service, the placement must be notified to Placement Services via FPDuty as soon as possible and at least by the next working day.

In the event of an Emergency Placement being made a planning meeting must be held with 72 hours.


10. Placement Procedures

Introductory Visit

When a referral has been received and accepted, a risk assessment has been completed and a Supported Lodgings Provider has been approached and has agreed to the placement, the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will arrange a convenient time for the young person to meet the Provider at their home with their Social Worker or Personal Adviser. This will enable the child or young person to view the supported lodgings home, and meet the Provider. It is also an opportunity for both parties to share information about themselves, discuss expectations of the placement and ask any questions. For example, it will be helpful to outline house rules and discuss with the young person the independence living skills they may wish to develop and how best to assist them.

After the visit, the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker will contact the Provider and the Social Worker or Personal Adviser of the child or young person. If they both want to continue, a Placement Planning meeting will be convened.

Placement Planning Meeting

The Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker and the Social Worker or Personal Adviser will agree a moving in date and time to suit the Provider and young person. At this meeting, the Supported Lodgings Placement Agreement will be drawn up between the Provider, their supervising social worker, young person and their Social Worker or Personal Adviser. This should involve an exchange of relevant information so that the Provider has a full understanding of the young person's needs and their role in responding to these needs. The Plan must be explicit about the respective roles and responsibilities of the provider and all professionals involved in contributing to the Plan.

The Plan must include:

  • The safeguarding responsibilities of the Supported Lodgings provider and the local authority;
  • The frequency of visits the young person can expect from their Social Worker/Personal Adviser/other involved professionals;
  • Communication arrangements between the provider and the social worker/Personal Adviser;
  • The Provider’s responsibilities for notifying the Social Worker/Personal adviser of any significant change in the young person's circumstances, including unplanned absences from the household;
  • Arrangements for giving notice to terminate the placement and arrangements for convening a review if the placement is at risk of being terminated;
  • Any specific matters relating to the young person if they are an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child or Young Person.

The Placement Agreement made with the young person sets out expectations in relation to:

  • House rules including access to the house and facilities, expected contact with the Provider and the reporting of unplanned absences;
  • Accommodation on offer;
  • All aspects of support;
  • Financial arrangements;
  • Moving on.

House Rules

Each Provider will ensure that there are appropriate house rules in place in discussion with their Supervising Social Worker. Reflecting individual need, diversity and identity, there will be general rules and there may be some which are specific to the child or young person. The agreement asks the young person to respect the Provider's home and abide by the rules specified. The agreement is designed to be flexible so that the Provider and the young person can negotiate and agree upon rules that suit their individual living arrangements. The plan can be added to according to each individual need and it may evolve over time.


11. Claiming Housing Benefit at 18 for the Young Person

There is a Housing Benefits pack available for supported Lodgings for Personal Advisors and Social Workers to complete 4 weeks before the young person’s 18th birthday. This Includes a Rent Proof letter, Licence Agreement & HB form to complete.

This needs to be submitted to the Operational Manager, Revenues and Benefits. pay will be 2 weeks in arrears, not 4 weeks. This pack is held by the Business Support Manager in the relevant Child in Care Team.  If Housing Benefit claims are submitted at least 4 weeks before the 18th birthday; the Personal Advisor can adjust the carer’s payments from the department 2 weeks after their 18th birthday.

Enquiries for Supported Lodgings claims are directed to the Operations Manager, Revenues and Benefits


12. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

The definition of a HMO is contained in sections 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004. A HMO can be a whole building or a part of a building (for example a block of flats might not be a HMO, but one of the flats within the block could be a HMO)

  • A building or part of a building that contains two persons sharing is not a HMO;
  • Also, a building occupied by the owner’s household plus up to two lodgers is excluded.

If the property is not excluded as above, then a building or a part of a building is a House in Multiple Occupation:

  • If the building or part of building consists of living accommodation; and
  • The accommodation is occupied by more than a single household; and
  • It is their main residence; and
  • Rents are payable or other consideration is provided; and
  • The occupiers share one or more (or the accommodation lacks one or more) toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities.

As part of legacy arrangements for accommodation for vulnerable young people, Wiltshire Council works with three Providers who offer accommodation to UASC (and potentially other young people) in four HMO Supported Lodgings properties.

Whilst not actively recruiting more of this provision, the houses provide a valuable resource for Unaccompanied Young People. Location risk assessments are carried out and reviewed, there is a clear risk assessment and matching process in place to ensure that groups are compatible and there are clear expectations of contact between the Providers and residents written into all Placement Agreements. Along with regular support and supervision from the Providers’ allocated Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker (in line with Supported Lodgings providers), each establishment is visited annually by a senior manager from Placement Services. Recognizing the unique nature of the establishments, the following summarizes the arrangements within each house:

Each HMO Supported Lodgings provides support for the young person as follows:

  • Accommodation will only be offered to young people referred by Wiltshire Council via the Fostering Service or Emergency Duty Service;
  • Sole use of a bedroom;
  • Use of laundry facilities, bathroom, communal facilities and WiFi;
  • Support for the young person with opening a bank account, registering with the GP, dentist and optician and with making and attending health appointments including immunisation;
  • Attendance at Meetings as required, this includes Looked After reviews, placement planning meetings, placement agreement meetings, TAC (Team Around the Child) meetings and support & supervision visits;
  • Reporting of any concerns regarding the young person immediately to the Social Worker or Personal Advisor and the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker;
  • Support to the young person to help them to develop independent living skills, both practically and emotionally. This should include teaching them to cook; clean clothes; maintain hygiene and health; understand budgeting and money matters, and encouraging positive outcomes;
  • Assistance to the young person in obtaining and maintaining educational provision, training or work;
  • Liaison with educational staff and attend meetings with Virtual School and colleges;
  • Support for the young person with their move to independent living when the time is right;
  • Support for the young person with attending appointments in relation to their application for asylum when appropriate;
  • Bespoke agreed arrangements for keeping in contact with residents and how often they will be seen by the Provider.


13. Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People

  1. Placements may be made within working hours or at other times. When an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child or Young Person has been placed with a Supported Lodgings Provider either by EDS, or the Police in an emergency situation, the Social Worker involved should inform the supported lodgings supervising social worker at the first available opportunity;
  2. Information about the child or young person must be provided to FPDuty and the supported lodgings supervising social worker with as many details as possible concerning the young person - a copy of the Universal Referral alongside the Preliminary Age Assessment, must be forwarded to the supported lodgings supervising social worker. This is to ensure that the risk assessment and matching process can take place.

Following receipt of the information and agreement that the referral is appropriate, the Supported Lodgings Supervising Social Worker (or Fostering Duty Social Worker in their absence) will discuss the young person with the referring Social Worker or Personal Advisor, or the worker who knows them best, and will then contact the Provider to agree the arrangement. The Manager with responsibility for Foster Team Duty has overall responsibility for the arrangement in accord with other placement decisions.

Where there is concern about the nature of the proposed arrangement, there may need to be discussion with, and agreement from, the relevant Service Manager or Head of Service.

Matching is best achieved by understanding the needs and culture of the young person and considering it in the wider context of the household and the other residents. Advice is sought appropriately and the views and knowledge of the Provider about the group is considered. In particular:

  • An assessment of the risk of being victims of modern slavery, exploited or going missing, including how well the young person can keep themselves safe;
  • The provision of sufficient on-site support, supervision and monitoring to maintain safety;
  • An assessment of wider support needs, including cultural and social needs;
  • Identification of the most appropriate accommodation available and which is consistent with the young person’s wishes and feelings, as far as possible;
  • The ability of the provider to recognise indicators and act appropriately regarding psychological distress and trauma based on past experiences.

Where indicated and necessary, young people may be moved within or between premises to bring about a better match. This will always be discussed with those affected and decisions taken based upon best interest.

  1. If at eighteen a former relevant Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young Person has exhausted all rights to appeal, then a referral Section 4 Application should be completed by the social worker or personal adviser for Adult Services via the Home Office;
  2. If at eighteen the young person has an ongoing appeal, the Local Authority still has a duty to support and accommodate the young person. That means:
    • The young person will be in Supported Lodgings;
    • he Personal Adviser has a duty to offer advice and support and to continue raising the financial assistance forms for the young person according to their assessed needs.

Once an Asylum Seeker has been granted Refugee Status, they are entitled to full public funds and benefits. Benefits need to be claimed by the young person with help from their Personal Adviser.

End