Services to children and to those leaving care by Kelvin Rutledge Presented by Catherine Rowlands Children Act 1989, Part III 17(1) It shall be the general duty of every local authority (in addition to the other duties imposed on them by this Part) — (a) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and (b) so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs.” 17(10) For the purposes of this Part a child shall be taken to be in need if – (a) he is 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 him of services by a local authority under this Part; (b) his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or (c) he is disabled, ...”. Children Act 1989, Part III 20(1) (1) Every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of— (a) there being no person who has parental responsibility for him; (b) his being lost or having been abandoned; or (c) the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care.” 20(3) Every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who has reached the age of sixteen and whose welfare the authority consider is likely to be seriously prejudiced if they do not provide him with accommodation.” Subsection (4) empowers a local authority to provide accommodation “… for any child within their area (even though a person who has parental responsibility for him is able to provide him with accommodation) if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child's welfare.” An evaluative judgment for the local authority “It is apparent at once that in addition to several matters which might be characterised as pure matters of fact, there are substantial and important areas where social working judgments have to be made, e.g. ‘in need’, ‘require accommodation’. Looking at the section itself the preponderant elements are those which require answers from persons experienced in the area with expertise borne of specialist qualifications and experience. Even limiting myself to section 20, the task involved is ‘a classic exercise of administrative discretion’ involving the provision of a valuable, but often limited, local authority resource, some form of accommodation.” A v Croydon LBC & M v Lambeth per Ward LJ at para 76 c/f Baroness Hale in G v Southwark A voluntary scheme Subsection (7) prohibits a local authority from providing accommodation under this section for any child if any person who— “(a) has parental responsibility for him; and (b) is willing and able to— (i) provide accommodation for him; or (ii) arrange for accommodation to be provided for him, objects.” R(M) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC The child’s wishes Subsection (6) provides: “… before providing accommodation under this section, a local authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the child's welfare— (a) ascertain the child's wishes and feelings regarding the provision of accommodation; and (b) give due consideration (having regard to his age and understanding) to such wishes and feelings of the child as they have been able to ascertain.” R(Liverpool CC) v London Borough of Hillingdon “It would appear from what has been communicated to the defendant that he wants a place to live, a phone and pocket money and to be left on his own. It is unsurprising that those should be his wishes and many of his age would share them. It also appears from the council's documentation that he does not want to be in care. No doubt that is a misunderstanding by him, to the extent that it is recorded, of the section 20 provision. The fact of his application to this court, and what is said by the solicitor, indicates that his considered view, to the extent it is relevant, is that he wants section 20 assistance, not that he wants section 17.” R(W) v North Lincolnshire Council, per HH Judge Mackie QC The need must be actual and current “… in my judgment, no duty under section 20(1) arises where the most that can be said is that without assistance, even assistance by way of temporary accommodation, a parent may (or possibly, even, will) be prevented from providing the child with suitable accommodation or care.” R(JL & LL) v Islington LBC  EWHC 458 (Admin), para 96, per Black LJ The range of services provided under section 20 “… the children’s authority … can ask another authority to use its powers to help them discharge theirs. They can ask a housing authority, for example, to make a certain amount of suitable accommodation available for them to use in discharging their responsibility to accommodate children under section 20. Section 23(2) gives them great flexibility in the ways in which they can provide accommodation for the children they are looking after, ranging from placing them with families, relatives or other suitable people, placing them in an appropriate children’s home, or “making such other arrangements as . . . seem appropriate to them". The very flexibility of what the children’s authority can provide supports the construction which we have placed upon section 20(1).” G v Southwark, para 33 per Baroness Hale 16/17 year olds G v Southwark M v London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham The Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation)(England) Order 2002 SI/2051 Protocol Housing Services Seized of a Part 7 application? Reason to believe applicant may be homeless / threatened? Reason to believe application may be in priority need? Protocol (cont.) Social services Is s/he a child? Is s/he “in need”? Is s/he in area? Does s/he require s.20 accommodation? Protocol (cont.) Housing Services’ functions largely limited to the “quick fix” of temporary accommodation Dealing with young applicants with other priority need Exceptional case remaining with housing Signing off the homelessness application Care leavers Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 R(M) v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC R(C) v Lambeth LBC Provision of education and training Under section 23C(4), the local authority has a duty to give a former relevant child— “(a) assistance of the kind referred to in section 24B(1), to the extent that his welfare requires it; (b) assistance of the kind referred to in section 24B(2), to the extent that his welfare and his educational or training needs require it; (c) other assistance, to the extent that his welfare requires it.” Section 23C(7) and (8) provide that: (7) If the former relevant child's pathway plan sets out a programme of education or training which extends beyond his twenty-first birthday— (a) the duty set out in subsection (4)(b) continues to subsist for so long as the former relevant child continues to pursue that programme; and (b) the duties set out in subsections (2) and (3) continue to subsist concurrently with that duty. (8) For the purposes of subsection (7)(a) there shall be disregarded any interruption in a former relevant child's pursuance of a programme of education or training if the local authority are satisfied that he will resume it as soon as is reasonably practicable”. Section 24B: “(1) The relevant local authority may give assistance to any person who qualifies for advice and assistance by virtue of [section 24(1A) or] section 24(2)(a) by contributing to expenses incurred by him in living near the place where he is, or will be, employed or seeking employment. (2) The relevant local authority may give assistance to a person to whom subsection (3) applies by— (a) contributing to expenses incurred by the person in question in living near the place where he is, or will be, receiving education or training; or (b) making a grant to enable him to meet expenses connected with his education or training. (3) This subsection applies to any person who— (a) is under twenty-four; and (b) qualifies for advice and assistance by virtue of [section 24(1A) or] section 24(2)(a), or would have done so if he were under twenty-one”. The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 Regulations and Guidance 2001 where the pathway plan sets out a programme of education, the duty of the local authority continues until the educational programme is complete; the pathway plan requires review every six months, and this can address educational achievement (as well as any change in immigration status) local authorities should not fund items which would ordinarily be paid by a student loan.