Thursday, May 21, 2009

Supporting Young Adults

Yesterday in R (G) v Southwark London Borough Council the House of Lords ruled that a 17-year-old who was thrown out of his home by his mother should have been provided care by his local authority and not just provided accommodation by the homeless persons unit.

This was of particular interest because as older teenagers our children were in the habit of bringing home waifs who for one reason or another couldn't stay with their parents. Over a number of years we had a total of 4 young people staying with us at different times and as indicated in this earlier post stability and support encourages young people to remain in employment, education or training. 3 out of our 4 went on to graduate with good first degrees and one is starting a PhD after the summer.

Family Law has a full case brief, this is part of the summary.

... Having been thrown out of his home by his mother and after sleeping on friends' sofas and in their cars, the teenager presented himself to the authority social services department requesting accommodation.

The authority provided the child with bed and breakfast accommodation, but concluded that, given the child's resourcefulness and age, accommodation provided by the homeless persons unit, with referrals to other support agencies, would be sufficient for his needs.

His solicitors argued that the child should in fact be accommodated pursuant to s 20(1)(c) of the Children Act 1989, thereby becoming entitled to the wider range of services available to a 'looked after child' and eventually qualifying as a 'former relevant child'.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the child's application for judicial review, stating that the local authority had been entitled in this case to decide that, even though the child was unable to live with the mother and had no other home, as a resourceful teenager capable of sourcing accommodation provided that he was given assistance to do so, he needed only 'help with accommodation' .........,,

If, as in this case, a child met those criteria, the child was entitled to support under s 20 once every item on the list had been assessed in the child's favour, the duty had arisen, and the authority were not entitled to 'side-step' that duty by giving the accommodation a different label. A local children's authority could not avoid their responsibilities by 'passing the buck' to another authority, such as a housing authority, but could ask another authority to use its powers to help them discharge theirs.

Full summary Source Family Law 20 May 2009


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