Young people aged 16 and 17 who become homeless can be housed under the Housing Act or the Children Act, writes Lauren Page-Hammick at Homeless Link.
The piece of legislation they are housed under will affect what support they are entitled to, where they are housed and whether the local authority has owes them a corporate parenting duty. Sadly, research from Just for Kids Law, a UK charity that works with and for children and young people, providing legal representation, advice, direct advocacy and support, has shown that young people are not always housed under the right legislation. This impacts the support they are entitled to in the short and long term and affects both their experiences of homelessness and risk of future homelessness.
It is important that 16-17 year olds are housed under the most appropriate pathway to meet their needs. The systems and legal responsibilities at play, however, are complex and can be hard to navigate. We know this can be challenging, and both young people and frontline workers can experience gatekeeping, receive incorrect information, or get lost in systems.
Homeless Link’s research ’We Have A Voice, Follow Our Lead’ highlighted that young people want better information, earlier on, and how they value youth and homelessness practitioners who support the through these systems. We have developed this guidance with Just for Kids Law, so workers are equipped with the information needed to support and advocate for the rights of the young people they work with. Alongside a guide to the legal rights of young people, this resource provides information so workers and young people can plan and prepare to present at local authorities.
The decision to seek support through their local authority may be the first significant decision a young person has made, that is not dictated by threats to their own or others safety. This guidance centres a trauma-informed approach that focuses on how to maintain young people’s sense of safety and control. Young people deserve to have an advocate to help them navigate their homelessness journey. Workers deserve to be equipped with the knowledge and tools to advocate for the young people they support. We hope this resource will help any professional do just that.
You can find out more at: www.justforkidslaw.org/news