16 and 17 year old young people at risk of homelessness
21. Multi-Agency working
Under the Children Act 2004, all agencies have a duty to co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. To achieve this, all agencies will:
- share information, including assessments, in a timely manner and in line with agreements regarding confidentiality
- attend all meetings and reviews or provide a written report where attendance is not possible
- contribute to assessments where appropriate
- play an active part in monitoring the young person’s progress against the aims set out in their plan
- maintain a reasonable level of inter-agency contact, particularly where the young person is in crisis
- consult with other agencies regarding any case decisions, especially decisions to end services or discharge from care
21.2 Confidentiality and information sharing
All information provided by the young person is confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties unless:
- the young person has given their consent to the information being shared
- it is necessary to share the information in order to protect the young person or others from significant harm
- under court order
- there is a statutory power under the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 to share information with a relevant authority (police, local authority or health authority) for the purposes of preventing crime
By law, young people aged 16 and 17 are deemed capable of giving informed consent to information sharing and must consent unless they lack the mental capacity to make this decision. In these cases, the principles of the Mental Capacity Act should be followed; the allocated social worker will decide who should provide consent on their behalf. Normally this would be a parent or someone with parental responsibility. If this is not possible, guidance may have to be sought from the Courts.
Young people will be told at the outset that in order to receive a full service from Buckinghamshire Children’s Services, they need to give written consent to Buckinghamshire Children’s Services to obtain information from other services and the police where relevant and to share information with other professionals, including housing support workers. In discussions with young people, workers will make clear what information needs to be shared, with whom and why. Where information is being shared, workers will pass on only relevant information for the stated purpose.
It is lawful for agencies including the police to share information regarding young people who are involved in gangs and offending in order to protect other young people within the pathway accommodation or to stop the commission of a crime.
Information gathered for the Buckinghamshire Children’s Services assessment will be made available to Homeless Services for the purposes of homelessness prevention or to assist the assessment under the Housing Act 1996. Any such assessment will be undertaken alongside the Buckinghamshire Children’s Services assessment in order to prevent the young person becoming homeless and to prevent unnecessary delays.
21.3 Dispute resolution
The aim of this protocol is to encourage decisions to be taken jointly and to ensure that the needs of young people are addressed by the most appropriate agency within the framework of legislation and good practice.
In the event that professionals and agencies disagree with any decisions taken by another agency, this will be resolved under the Buckinghamshire escalation policy.
21.4 Joint Training
All workers who are responsible for implementing this protocol and who come into direct contact with young people will receive safeguarding children training provided by Social Care and Housing to the relevant level depending on their level of contact with young people.
Buckinghamshire Children’s Services social workers should receive training on working with homeless young people as part of their core training.
Housing support workers who work directly with young people will be able to access social work training provided by Buckinghamshire Children’s Services and Housing.
21.5 Monitoring & review
This protocol will be reviewed annually by senior managers from Buckinghamshire Children’s Services and Housing Services.