Housing and homelessness child protection policy

New LinkPolicy statement

The identification and protection of vulnerable children plays a key role in the provision of South Ayrshire Council’s Housing and Homelessness services.

Housing and Homelessness services will work with partner agencies to identify vulnerable children as part of their Housing and Homelessness management, and Housing Policy and Strategy development services. Staff will ensure that the needs of children are assessed and addressed appropriately.

The protection of vulnerable children and their personal development will be implemented in accordance with the Children’s Act 1995 and the national GIRFEC ‘Getting It Right for Every Child’ agenda.

 

Principal objectives

      • To work in partnership with a range of services to identify children who are at risk and address their needs appropriately.
      • To assess the needs of children in homeless households and provide support to minimise the disruption to their lives caused by homelessness.
      • To provide continued support to children in tenant and homeless households to ensure the GIRFEC outcomes are achieved.
      • Work with partner agencies to monitor individual progress against the SHANARRI outcomes.
      • Ensure that Housing and Homelessness staff has a robust awareness of Child Protection Policy and procedures.
      • Ensure that Child Protection is a key consideration in the development of all Housing Policy and Strategy work.

 

Statutory framework and good practice

The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 places a duty on the local authority to promote the welfare of children, and to respond effectively to their interests and needs when implementing policy.

GIRFEC- “Getting It Right for Every Child” is a national programme that aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland. The GIRFEC agenda should be integrated across all areas of service to ensure a partnership approach to the protection of children.

The GIRFEC agenda sets out seven individual outcomes that each child should achieve:

      • Safe
      • Healthy
      • Achieving
      • Nurtured
      • Active
      • Responsible
      • Respected
      • Included

South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee (CPC) was formed in 1996 and is a partnership forum which has the primary focus of developing and implementing strategies for the protection of children across and between all agencies operating in South Ayrshire.

 

Performance and service standards

We aim to adhere to the following good practice:

      • We will identify, assess and address the needs of children in accordance with Child Protection legislation and the GIRFEC agenda.
      • We will work with partner agencies to ensure that the protection of vulnerable children plays a key role in multi-agency service development and practice.
      • We will work to minimise the disruption to the lives of children caused by homelessness.
      • We will integrate Child Protection considerations into all Housing policy and strategy work and related impact and risk assessments.
      • We will ensure that all staff is made aware of Child Protection issues and referral procedures.
      • We will work with partner agencies to enable children to achieve the SHANARI outcomes.

 

Multi agency working

Good practice for organisations involved in supporting and protecting vulnerable children highlights the importance of multi agency partnership working and integrated services. A robust, proactive and streamlined approach to Child Protection requires close working between Housing and Homelessness Services and the following partner agencies:

      • Local police
      • Social Work Services/Child Protection Committee
      • Community Safety Partnership
      • South Ayrshire Multi Agency Partnership to Tackle Violence against Women and Children
      • Local Housing Advice and Support Agencies
      • NHS Ayrshire & Arran
      • Education

The council will work with partner agencies through the establishment of agreed protocols and referral processes.

 

Equal opportunities

Section 106 of the Housing (Scotland Act 2001) places a statutory duty on local   authorities and RSL’s to encourage equal opportunities and to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, language or social origin.

      • Provide services that reflect the council’s commitment to equality of access for all customers, taking into account the particular needs of vulnerable groups.
      • Take into account good practice in equal opportunities when we update our policies, procedures and standards.
      • Ensure that our policies, procedures, standards and information materials are accessible to all customers, by producing information in plain language and different formats on request that is clear and understandable. Where required an interpreter/signer will be arranged to aid communication.
      • We will also take into account other relevant legislation which has been brought together under the Equalities Act 2010

 

Data protection and handling confidential information

The 1998 Data Protection Act is the legislation which protects confidential information.

South Ayrshire Council will not disclose information that is given to us in confidence without the consent of the individual to whom the information is pertinent.  We will control access to personal information when sharing information with other agencies.

Information gathered in relation to the protection of children could for example include an exchange of information between the council and:

      • South Ayrshire Women’s Aid
      • Victim support
      • South Ayrshire Council’s Homeless Section
      • South Ayrshire Council’s Social Work department/Child Protection Committee
      • Local police
      • South Ayrshire Multi Agency Partnership to Tackle Violence against Women and Children
      • NHS Ayrshire & Arran
      • Other Council departments
      • Support agencies
      • Education

When handling confidential personal information we will promote, support and protect the privacy, dignity and rights of our customers.

A breach of confidentiality will be investigated thoroughly and if necessary appropriate action will be taken.

 

Housing management and child protection

Housing management staff involved in the following functions will identify children who may be at risk, and implement the Child Protection referral process and GIRFEC agenda as required:

      • The allocation of South Ayrshire Council housing.
      • The inspection of council tenancies and estate management issues.
      • Visits to tenant households regarding the management of rent arrears.
      • The assessment of housing support needs for tenants and families.
      • The management and investigation of anti-social behaviour.
      • The overall management and sustainability of council tenancies.

Officers will follow the support assessment and referral process as outlined in Appendix 1.

 

Homelessness assessment and management

Homelessness and Housing Options staff involved in the following functions will identify children who may be at risk, assess the support needs of children in homeless households, and work to minimise the disruption to the lives of children caused by homelessness.

      • The provision of housing advice and information to families threatened with homelessness.
      • The investigation of reasons for homelessness and assessment of homelessness.
      • The allocation of temporary and permanent accommodation to homeless families with children.
      • The assessment of support needs for families and children affected by homelessness.
      • Working with support agencies to monitor individual progress against GIRFEC outcomes.

 

Strategic development and child protection

Housing Policy and Strategy staff involved in the following functions will consider Child Protection issues as part of all Housing Policy and Strategy work. Policy staff will also identify children who may be at risk and implement the referral procedures as required.

      • Development of the Local Housing Strategy and related Housing strategies.
      • Development of Housing Management and Homelessness policies and procedures.
      • Development of Housing and Homelessness support assessment tool.
      • The registration of Private Landlords and the investigation of the quality of private rented accommodation.
      • The allocation of Homemaker Starter Packs.

 

Appeals

See section 3.7 of the customer care policy.

 

Monitoring and evaluation

The support needs of children in homeless households will be assessed and reviewed by Homeless staff and Housing support agency staff every four weeks.

An overall review of the support needs of children in tenant and homeless households, and progress against outcomes will be produced every six months.

Child Protection procedures will be reviewed regularly and quality assured in conjunction with the Child Protection Committee and social work services.

All housing policies and strategies will be assessed prior to completion to determine the impact on children.

 

Review of policy

This policy will be reviewed in terms of legislative changes and good practice guidance every two years or as required by statutory changes.