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National Homeless Advice Service

Carrying out joint assessments

UK Government guidance for local authorities working with 16 and 17 year olds recommends that assessments be undertaken jointly by Children’s Services and the housing authority.

For further details, see paragraph 2.28 of the Guidance on the provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation guidance.

Who should lead on the initial assessment?

Children’s Services should carry out an initial assessment to establish whether the young person is a ‘child in need’ under the Children Act 1989. The housing authority should determine whether a homelessness duty is owed under the Housing Act 1996.

In practice however, geographical factors and staff availability mean that most authorities rely upon good information-sharing arrangements.

An effective way of carrying out joint assessments is to use youth hub or co-location arrangements. These ensure that professionals are in close contact with each other, and work together to present consistent messages to the young person and their family. They also help to ensure that options for the young person are kept under review, and that a positive outcome can be achieved as quickly as possible.

The initial assessment should be completed within ten working days of the referral being received. If there is no joint assessment process in place, the Children’s Services team should let the Housing Authority know the outcome of the initial assessment.

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What if there is no co-location agreement?

Where there is no youth hub or co-location arrangement, authorities should ensure that there is an agreed process for named individuals in children’s services and housing teams to be identified at the start of the assessment process.

These individuals should then be able to:

  • share information gained during their respective contacts with the young person and their family, and the outcomes from their assessment(s)
  • share the outcomes from assessment, and to jointly determine whether a duty is owed under either piece of legislation (or other outcomes, for instance if a young person is found to be at risk and referred on to children’s services safeguarding teams)
  • work together to devise an optimal package of assistance which can be offered to the young person when the outcomes from the assessment(s) are discussed with them.

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