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National Homeless Advice Service

Models for joint working

There are three recognised models used by local authorities to respond effectively to young people who are homeless or are threatened with homelessness.

Which one is appropriate for your authority will depend on local circumstances - for example, hub or co-location models may be difficult to operate in areas where the population is dispersed over a wide geographic area.

Model 1: Youth services hub

These a wide-ranging arrangements that are led jointly by children’s services and housing authorities. Voluntary sector partners often play a key role. These partners provide a continuing source of support and assistance to vulnerable young people from their early teens to early twenties.

For more information, see our peer learning examples of youth hubs of how these arrangements can work in practice.

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Model 2: Co-location

The co-location model is used by some two-tier authorities. It involves a multi-disciplinary team focusing on preventative, assessment and support services to young people facing homelessness.

For more information, see our examples of co-location and joint working in action.

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Model 3: Optimising existing structures

With this model, existing professional and organisational structures are strengthened and improvements made to efficiency, co-operation and information sharing. Joint protocols are often used to define partnership working arrangements.

For more information, see an example of joint working on initial enquiries and assessment between Children’s Services and Housing.

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Which model is right for your authority?

Local circumstances dictate that there is no hard and fast rule, and practice varies widely within each model.

For example, the third model - optimising existing structuresoften sees the most frequent obstacles to effective joint working. Typical problems include failures of communication, conflicting organisational or professional priorities, the desire to preserve outdated procedures and incompatible data management systems. These all need to be addressed, or workarounds found, for joint working to succeed.

However, in local authority areas that are organisationally and geographically dispersed, optimising existing structures might well be the only practicable option.

For more information, see our examples of how some authorities have addressed this through dispersed joint working.

Recent experience suggests that, in these circumstances, the arrangements work best where a lead officer has been given specific responsibility for developing the joint protocol and for monitoring its performance. This officer should also set out and supervise working arrangements with both housing and children’s services authorities in the local area.

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