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National Homeless Advice Service

Services for children and young people

Young people may come across multiple services in their journey to adulthood. Some of these will work in partnership with each other, while some will provide a standalone service.



Local authority services for children, young people and families (also known as children’s social work or children’s services)

Family support

A local authority’s children’s service may come into contact with young people and their families at a time when the family is in need because the child or young person is:

  • in crisis because of relationship breakdown
  • in need of protection and safeguarding
  • at risk of, or involved in, offending behaviour
  • or was a looked-after child.

Children’s services are able to work with young people and families who contact them (although resources may mean that not all families can be supported immediately) to give advice, assistance and signposting, and to help plan for the longer term.

Children’s services can also become involved in child protection cases, and may involve other professionals such as doctors, health visitors and teachers in assessing what is best for the child/young person in question.

It may be necessary in some cases for children to be cared for away from home.

Wider responsibilities

Children’s services will usually also be responsible for corporate parenting responsibilities ie fostering, adoption and arranging residential care.

Children’s services may also be responsible for youth advice and support and the Youth Offending Service.

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Youth Offending Service (or Team)

This service works with families and young people aged 10 to 18, to try to prevent the young person from breaking the law, and from re-offending. It will usually also work to support the victims of youth crime.

It is a multi-agency service, and will include representatives from police, probation, health, education, children and young people’s service, training and employment, and housing services.

The youth justice system in England and Wales is overseen by the Youth Justice Board.

More information on youth offending teams is available from Gov.uk.

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Troubled Families Service

The Supporting Troubled Families Programme was launched in April 2012 and will run to 2020.

Troubled families are defined as those who:

  • are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour
  • have children who are failing to attend school
  • have an adult on out of work benefits
  • have long standing and complex problems

The aim of the programme is for a coordinated group of local teams and agencies to respond quickly when a child or family needs support, helping them to access services that will have the maximum impact. The family’s issues will be targeted holistically, rather than as different individual problems.

More information on the Troubled Families Programme is available from Gov.uk.

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Education Service

The education service will be responsible for some or all of the following:

  • childcare
  • education from pre-school to secondary level including special education
  • non-mainstream educational support, for example for children with long-term illness, traveller children, pregnant teenagers and young mothers
  • educational psychology service
  • education welfare service (covering exclusions, truancy, absence and related issues)
  • community learning and development and lifelong learning
  • other services to children and their families.

In some local authorities, the education service will be part of children’s services, and can also be known as education and social work.

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Multi-agency working

Multi-agency working ( also known as integrated, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary working) brings together practitioners from different local authority departments, community sectors and professions to work together to put children, young people and their families at the centre of decision making, in order to better identify and meet their needs and improve their lives.

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