Floating support can take a variety of forms, ranging from ‘light touch’ to more intense support.
Not all young people need to be in supported accommodation, or are suited to being in it. For these, receiving ‘light touch’ support while living in self-contained accommodation may be the best option.
Light touch support is for those more stable and mature young people who are capable of living independently, but need regular, focused, housing-related support and signposting to services.
This may be provided as a ‘move on’ from supported accommodation when the young person is ready. However, it may be also be appropriate for older young people, with lower needs, to move straight into this option - thus bypassing the need to be in higher cost supported accommodation.
A key factor in the effectiveness of this option is the assessment of skills and aptitude to manage independently. Just as important is the provision of the right level of support to the young person so that they can continue in education, training or employment.
Authorities should make a flexible form of floating support available to young people, even if it is only for a short period of time. It should cover education, training and employment - not just housing matters. Most young people who access this option will be assessed as ready and able to manage their own accommodation, perhaps with medium to low level floating support.
Local authority service commissioners are increasingly recognising that some young people who have higher, often complex or multiple needs, cannot easily be accommodated in supported housing.
Some young people with multiple needs may end up being evicted from larger supported accommodation and in a ‘revolving door’™ situation. Where they then approach a local authority for assistance, they may be assessed as being ‘intentionally homeless’ and placed in a bed and breakfast as a last resort.
This is where a floating support ‘plus’ approach can be used. It involves providing tailored support by identifying small shared or sometimes self-contained accommodation - in either the private rented sector or social housing - where a young person can live with a high level of specialist floating support.
Examples of the young people who might need this sort of intense floating support are those with multiple needs, such as substance misuse, mental health problems, offending behaviour and anger management problems. Others may have learning disabilities or difficulties, for example, autism or ADHD.
Some young people who are trying to escape gangs or gang violence may need to live in small self-contained or shared accommodation.