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National Homeless Advice Service

Intensive preventative work with families

Dartford Borough Council and Kent County Council introduced a preventative approach to homelessness among 16 and 17 year olds following the introduction of a revised joint protocol for responding to young people claiming they were homeless.



Joint protocol

Designated members of both housing options and children’s services teams are co-located, with a brief to respond to respond to all enquiries from 16 and 17 year olds and especially where they are leaving a safe family home.

Key features of the intensive work undertaken with the family are as follows:

  • Meeting both the family and the young person within 24 hours of a young person’s initial enquiry
  • Resistance to pursuing life apart as an immediate solution to other problems (although there is some short term emergency accommodation kept available)
  • A Common Assessment Framework action plan drawing in specialist support and training where necessary to alleviate stresses arising from: criminal, anti-social or intolerable behaviours of family members; physical or mental ill health; drug or alcohol abuse; debt and money problems; lack of meaningful occupation or paid employment
  • Weekly meetings with the family and young person at home to monitor take up of support and progress
  • Advice on a longer-term plan for the young person’s leaving home when they are ready
  • Regular live case reviews undertaken together by the team (weekly) and stakeholders (monthly)
  • Professional supervision of the team members by their respective managers
  • Closure of case only if both the family and the young person ask to stop and the team considers this appropriate
  • Escalation of the case to an initial/core assessment undertaken by children’s services if the prevention package is seen not to be effective, and offer of assistance with accommodation under Section 20, Children Act 1989

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Results

Results in the pilot period (2011/12) were as follows:

  • Just over half the young people interviewed at initial enquiry returned home with no further input from the team
  • 25% returned home with intensive preventative packages in place
  • 15% were assessed as children in need and accepted Section 20 assistance, becoming ‘looked after’
  • The remainder were either supported back to their home authority or rejected assistance

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Successful features

The key successful features of this strategy were as follows:

  • An immediate response, involving the family, to the initial enquiry
  • A robust reality check on the perception that living apart is the only solution
  • The offer of intensive preventative support (CAF action plan) was coherent, real and delivered by the team and by partner agencies
  • The team maintained consistent contact with the young person and family members

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Further information

For more information, download the Dartford Young Persons’ Housing Strategy 2009-2012.

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