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5.2.8 Placement of Children Looked After and Care Leavers Aged 16 and 17 in Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’/’Suitable Accommodation’

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

‘Other Arrangements’ and ‘suitable accommodation’ is the term used for accommodation and placements for children looked after and care leavers (usually aged 16 & 17, in some circumstances care leavers aged 18 and older) which is not regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 and as a result is not inspected by Ofsted. Within this manual they are referred to as semi-independent placement.

These range from shared and supported placements with 24 hour onsite support, to shared placements with different levels of day time support (private providers and registered landlords) to independent accommodation with floating / visiting support.

RELATED CHAPTERS

This will be read in conjunction with:

Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’ Service Standards and Expectations of Semi-Independent - Supported Accommodation Providers (Contract Requirements and Inspection Requirements) Procedure

Placement of Children Looked After and Care Leavers Aged 16 and 17 in Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’/’Suitable Accommodation’.  The Care Planning Process

See Service Standards and Expectations (Inspection Checklist) CS0307F2 and Sole Occupancy & Shared Occupancy (Health and Safety) Property Inspection Checklist CS0307F1.

AMENDMENT

The hyperlinks in this chapter were revised and update in March 2014.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Landlord and Semi-Independent Provider Suitability Requirements
  3. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Semi Independent Health and Safety Property Requirements
  4. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Individual Arrangements - Summary Checklist
  5. Supported Accommodation or Children’s Home?  Department for Education Guidance

See LCS User Guide.


1. Introduction

These types of placements are deemed ‘Other Arrangements’ within the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010. The related Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance, including the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 sets out parallel requirements. A system of checks is required to ensure the placement or accommodation can be deemed ‘Suitable Accommodation’.

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010 highlights that in certain circumstances and following the assessment of the child’s needs to inform his or her care or pathway plan, the assessment may conclude that for some children, these needs will be best met by a placement in ‘Other Arrangements’[1].

As these placements are not regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000, or inspected by Ofsted the ‘Responsible Authority’ will need to take every step to establish that the child or young person’s needs are matched to the services provided by the placement and that the provider and placement are safe and suitable.

In order to make a placement in ‘Other Arrangements’ the responsible authority must ensure that:

“In every case, before making the placement the local authority must establish that the accommodation is suitable.

Suitable accommodation is accommodation:

  • Which, so far as reasonably practicable, is suitable for the child or young person in light of his/her needs, including his/her health needs;
  • In respect of which the responsible authority has satisfied itself as to the character and suitability of the landlord or other provider;
  • Which complies with health and safety requirements related to rented accommodation; and
  • In respect of which the responsible authority has, so far as reasonably practicable, taken into account the child or young person’s:
    • Wishes and feelings; and
    • Education, training or employment needs.

(Section 3.101 to Section 3.127 Regulation 27 and Schedule 6 Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review 2010).

And

See Page 49 and Page 50, Section 7.12 to Section 7.17, Regulation 9 and Schedule 2, Children Act 1989 Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers Guidance, including the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010).

The 2010 Guidance sets out the following areas that must be addressed when assessing ‘Suitable Accommodation’ or a placement for an individual young person:

  1. What are the assessed needs of the young person and how will the placement meet these? i.e:
    • Access to education, training, employment opportunities;
    • Access to family, support networks, health needs and move-on opportunities;
    • Location and accessibility - risk and safeguarding both to and from others.
  2. The young person’s views and wishes and feelings regarding the accommodation;
  3. The character and suitability of the landlord/provider (and other household/family members or provider staff);
  4. The risk, safeguarding and suitability of placing the young person with the existing group of resident young people;
  5. The suitability of the accommodation - health and safety.

Prior to a move to ‘Suitable Accommodation’ taking place the above issues should be addressed and wherever possible the young person should have viewed the placement/accommodation.

As the move will represent a significant change to the young person’s care/pathway plan a statutory review, chaired by the young person’s Independent Reviewing Officer should take place prior to a decision being made to move to ‘Suitable Accommodation’. The statutory review should scrutinise how the placement/accommodation will meet the young person’s assessed need and establish that a Care Plan/Pathway Plan is in place to support the move. 

In addition, regulation 12(3)(c) requires that, where a young person is placed in ‘Other Arrangements’, then the local authority must make a placement plan involving the young person and the person responsible for supporting him/her in the accommodation. This should be the person who will have the most day to day contact with the young person, for example their ‘key worker’, support worker or landlord/landlady. Any support plan setting out how the supported accommodation/provider service will support the young person should be integral to the placement plan and avoid duplication.

See Page 65, Section 3.124 - Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010.

As well as the requirement to check that the placement/accommodation meets the individual needs of the young person and that their views are sought and the provider landlord is suitable; the 2010 Guidance also sets out a number of key headings within which to explore the suitability of an individual placement or accommodation arrangement.

  • Facilities and services provided;
  • State of repair;
  • Safety;
  • Location;
  • Support;
  • Tenancy status;
  • The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability.

“The primary issue to be addressed in making a placement in ‘other arrangements’, just as in any other placement setting, will be how making this placement meets the assessed needs of the individual child.”

(See Page 65, Section 3.121 - Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010).

[1] Regulation 27 & 42 - Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010


2. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Landlord and Semi-Independent Provider Suitability Requirements

The responsible authority (Hertfordshire County Council) is required to satisfy itself as to the character and suitability of the landlord, or provider, or provider organisation. The following factors are provided as guidance and should not be used as a definitive or exhaustive list, and represent a minimum standard.

Where the placement or accommodation is being commissioned from a small scale landlord with one or two properties and the property is located in Hertfordshire the responsible authority (Hertfordshire County Council) will need to undertake:

  1. A Local Authority (LA) check;
  2. A Police National Computer (PNC) check;
  3. The landlord should also be asked if they have ever had a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS), previously called a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, undertaken for any purpose, and if they have, the DBS/CRB number should be checked;
  4. If there are any concerns regarding the suitability of the landlord an enhanced DBS check should be undertaken.

Depending on the outcome of the above checks (1, 2 and 3) the responsible authority may also need to undertake an enhanced DBS check (as in 4) and an individual risk assessment of the landlord.

Where the placement or accommodation is being commissioned from a small scale landlord with one or two properties and the property is located outside of Hertfordshire, the local authority should undertake:

  1. An enhanced DBS check;
  2. Liaise with the local authority (both the district/borough and county council in two tier authorities) and police authority where the accommodation is located, to request information about the suitability of the landlord and to request a local authority and police national computer check.

The lowest level of checking, (safeguarding) i.e. a local authority check and a police national computer (PNC) check is only appropriate where the accommodation is in Hertfordshire, the landlord is an individual landlord and has no access to the property (except the statutory requirements regarding inspecting the property with advanced notice and in such circumstances they will be accompanied by a representative of the local authority, i.e. a social worker, personal adviser or brokerage worker).

The contract between Hertfordshire County Council and the landlord should set out the name and contact details of the responsible authority representative who should be contacted should the landlord need to access the property.

Where the accommodation/placement is provided by a landlord or organisation that also provides support, or where the landlord also lives in, or in close proximity to the property all checks should be completed (regardless of being inside or outside of Hertfordshire). Also see Section 3, Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Semi Independent Health and Safety Property Requirements.

Additionally, the responsible authority will need to assess anyone who may have access to the property, i.e. staff and individuals undertaking repairs, providing support or services etc, and/or, have a policy where-by staff undertaking repairs etc are supervised and accompanied by an approved person.

To ensure risks are limited regarding security the responsible authority should undertake an assessment with the landlord/provider to ascertain who previously lived in the accommodation/placement and to decide if it is appropriate to change the locks on the property and/or ensure all keys of previous tenants are returned to the landlord/provider. Where this is not possible a risk assessment will need to be undertaken and signed-off by the responsible authority nominated officer.

In circumstances where a young person is placed in a family type setting, such as supported lodgings the responsible authority will need to check all members of the household and regular visitors. Additionally, where young people are placed in accommodation that is provided as part of their employment or training, the responsible authority will need to assess the suitability of the employer/landlord and have a contingency accommodation plan in case the young person’s employment or training ends etc.

Checks will also need to be undertaken regarding the landlord’s/provider’s financially viable. This is important to ensure that the arrangement can continue to meet the young person’s needs and does not end prematurely due to any financial difficulties of the landlord/provider. Financial checks on large scale landlords and providers are undertaken as part of the Hertfordshire contract arrangements and can be undertaken on landlords/providers when placing young people outside of the Hertfordshire Framework Agreement. Checking the financial viability of small scale landlords can be more difficult; in these situations reference should be made to how fostering financial viability is undertaken, and where possible the mortgage statement and rent account should be checked to ensure that there are no arrears. Where this is not possible, a financial viability risk assessment should be undertaken.

Checks should always be undertaken to ascertain who has access to the placement/accommodation and to assess whether all people who have access are deemed suitable.  If this is not possible, a risk assessment should be undertaken with specific consideration given to any risks that may result from young people aged 18 and over having access to children looked after and care leavers aged 16 & 17.

Any supported accommodation (private provider and registered provider) that provides accommodation to children looked after and care leavers aged 16 & 17 and vulnerable young people aged 16 to 24 must have a robust risk management and referral matching process to ensure that all 16 & 17 year olds are safeguarded.

Where young people are placed with a semi-independent accommodation provider the responsible authority will generally need to approve the organisation via a corporate procurement procedure, and/or a framework agreement and/or a preferred provider list and via a system of inspection. See Semi-Independent Placement - ‘Other Arrangements’ Service Standards and Expectations of Semi-Independent - Supported Accommodation Providers (Contract Requirements and Inspection Requirements) Procedure for the requirements of the landlord/provider when placing 16 & 17 year old young people in placements and accommodation provided by semi-independent accommodation provider organisations.

In all circumstances the responsible authority will need to assess the suitability of:

  • The provider/landlord;
  • Those who are providing support;
  • Those who have access to the property and the young person.

When approving a landlord, provider or accommodation outside of the framework agreement a broad based risk assessment should be undertaken and any anomalies or specific issues highlighted.  The risk assessment should be approved by the Brokerage Service; the Children Services Commissioning Section and signed off by the responsible authority nominated officer.


3. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Semi Independent Health and Safety Property Requirements

The following information sets out the Health and Safety requirements relating to:

  1. Individual accommodation - sole occupancy flats;
  2. Shared accommodation - flats and houses shared by two young people;
  3. Shared semi-independent supported accommodation (including hostels and supported accommodation/Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), both private and registered providers) provided for children looked after and care leavers aged 16 & 17 (and in certain circumstances aged 18 and older) that are the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council.

All properties being used to provide placements for 3 or more young people should be inspected by the local Private Sector Housing Service (previously, and sometimes still known as the Environmental Health Service), the local Fire and Rescue Service and any HMO requirements or recommendations complied with (including being a licensed HMO).

  • A House in Multiple Occupation is any property that provides accommodation for 3 unrelated individuals who share some facilities;
  • A licensed House in Multiple Occupation is any property that provides accommodation for 5 unrelated individuals who share some facilities and/or has 3 or more storeys.

  1. All properties being used to provide placements for 2 or more young people (shared accommodation) via an individual landlord or semi-independent private provider organisation or registered provider should have (as a minimum):
    • A hardwired fire alarm system;
    • Smoke detectors in bedrooms and communal areas (hardwired);
    • Heat detectors in all kitchen areas;
    • A fire blanket in all kitchen areas;
    • Fire exit signs and instructions;
    • Fire extinguishers (and/or a detailed fire risk management plan) [Advice on fire extinguishers is complex, if fire extinguishers are provided these must be maintained and checked yearly and be used by staff; client evacuation takes priority over fighting a fire];
    • A carbon monoxide detector (alarm type);
    • Fire doors fitted with relevant smoke seals and self closing devices;
    • Fire retardant furnishings;
    • An emergency lighting system;
    • Yearly Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) of all electrical equipment belonging to the provider;
    • A valid Gas (Landlords Gas Safety Certificate Gas Safe) and Electrical Certificate (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC)) with any recommendations and requirements completed (Gas Safe Certificate valid for 1 year, NICEIC Electrical Certificate valid for 5 years);
    • Laminated information sheet setting out emergency exit/evacuation routes and procedures and emergency health services, i.e. nearest Accident and Emergency unit, NHS Drop-in centre including telephone numbers;
    • Laminated information sheet with emergency contact numbers of the landlord/semi-independent provider, gas provider, water provider;
    • An accident log;
    • A visitors book;
    • Depending on the type of building - fire escapes, all fire escape routes kept clear and/or special escape procedures;
    • Where residents are not able to self-evacuate procedures must be in place for those who need assistance with evacuation;
    • A daily/weekly observation and general check of the building, i.e. windows, locks, alarms, fire equipment, plugs and sockets, electrical equipment, external areas;
    • Appropriate main door, individual room and window locks;
    • CCTV and/or a system for registering and checking who is in the building in the event of a fire or the need to evacuate the property (depending on level of needs of young people and numbers);
    • Information about which members of staff are trained first aiders and their shift patterns (where possible a trained first aider should be available on each shift);
    • Depending on risk and position, windows may require limited opening or window bars i.e. due to security or risk of falls (first floor and above and where a window has a sill height of one metre or less);
    • Depending on risk and position some glass panels may need to contain safety glass;
    • All communal areas are kept free of obstructions and hazards;
    • All shared garden and outside areas are kept in good and safe order.
    In situations where 2 young people are sharing, a number of the above requirements may not be practical, in these situations a risk assessment should be undertaken and should set out how any particular requirements will be implemented or addressed.
  1. All sole occupancy accommodation provided by a landlord or semi-independent accommodation provider (private provider or registered provider) should comply with the requirements of rented accommodation and landlord standards (as a minimum) and should have:
    • Smoke detectors (hardwired);
    • Heat detector - kitchen;
    • A fire blanket in all kitchen areas;
    • Fire extinguishers (and/or a detailed fire risk management plan) [Advice on fire extinguishers is complex, if fire extinguishers are provided these must be maintained and checked yearly and be used by staff; client evacuation takes priority over fighting a fire];
    • A carbon monoxide detector (alarm type);
    • Main entry door fitted with relevant smoke seals;
    • Fire retardant furnishings;
    • All electrical equipment belonging to the landlord should be PAT tested every year or at the renewal of the tenancy:
    • A valid Gas (Landlords Gas Safety Certificate (Gas Safe)) and Electrical Certificate (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC)) with any recommendations and requirements completed (Gas Safe Certificate valid for 1 year, NICEIC Electrical Certificate valid for 5 years);
    • Laminated information sheet setting out emergency exit/evacuation routes and procedures and emergency health services, i.e. nearest Accident and Emergency unit, NHS Drop-in centre including telephone numbers;
    • Laminated information sheet with emergency contact numbers of the landlord/semi-independent provider, gas provider, water provider;
    • Depending on the type of building - fire escapes, all fire escape routes kept clear and/or special escape procedures;
    • A daily/weekly observation and general check of the building, i.e. windows, locks, alarms, fire equipment, plugs and sockets, electrical equipment, external areas (undertaken by the provider organisation or personal adviser);
    • Appropriate locks - main door (see fire door section), individual rooms and windows;
    • Depending on risk and position windows may require limited opening or window bars i.e. due to security or risk of falls (first floor and above and where a window has a sill height of one metre or less);
    • Depending on risk and position some glass panels may need to contain safety glass;
    • All communal areas are kept free of obstructions and hazards;
    • All shared garden and outside areas are kept in good and safe order.
  2. All mobile homes require a license and to be sited on an approved and licensed site. The license will highlight the planning status and the fire safety requirements and the provision of essential and required amenities;
  3. All accommodation deemed ‘holiday accommodation’ should be referred to the local Private Sector Housing Service (previously, and sometimes still known as the Environmental Health Service) to check if there are any limits to the amount of time the accommodation can be occupied in any given year;
  4. All damage to properties must be rectified as soon as possible in order to avoid any risks to residence, i.e. damaged windows, doors etc must be fixed immediately rather than wait for insurance claims to be completed;
  5. Any placement or accommodation deviating from the above standards must only be approved following a detailed risk assessment and authorisation from the local authority nominated officer;
  6. For general guidance see Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service - Guide to Fire Safety in Houses in Multiple Occupation - Guidance for Owners, Agents and Managers of HMOs (this protocol has been agreed across Hertfordshire County Council and the ten housing authorities). See also Stevenage Borough Council Guidance on Standards of Accommodation to be provided in Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses.


4. Sole Occupancy and Shared Occupancy Individual Arrangements - Summary Checklist

See Sole Occupancy & Shared Occupancy (Health and Safety) Property Inspection Checklist CS0307F1.

The following headings are taken from the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010 and provide a framework to assist with checking the suitability of elements of the ‘Suitable Accommodation’ framework.

  1. Facilities and services provided;
  2. State of repair;
  3. Safety;
  4. Location;
  5. Support;
  6. Tenancy status;
  7. The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability.

Facilities, Services, State of Repair/Environment

  • What services and facilities are provided within the placement/ accommodation?
  • Is the overall condition and immediate environment suitable, safe and secure?
  • Does the placement/accommodation create any risks for the young person?
  • If the placement/accommodation is shared, does this create risks for the young person or those he/she is placed with?
  • Is there a policy of matching the level of need of all of the young people in the shared accommodation (risk assessment)?
  • If the shared accommodation provides placements for young people aged 16 & 17 and young people aged 18 plus how are the associated risks managed?
  • If the shared accommodation provides placements for several local authorities how are the associated risks managed and the levels of need matched?

Safety

  • Does the property comply with all the health and safety requirements applying to:
    • Landlords;
    • Houses in Multiple Occupancy (licensed and non-licensed);
    • The requirements of the individual responsible authority;
    • Appropriate insurance levels.

Location

  • Does the accommodation enable the young person to access education, training and employment opportunities?
  • Does the accommodation have adequate transport links?
  • Does the accommodation enable the young person to have reasonable access to people in their support network, including family, health, leisure and general amenities?
  • Is the accommodation in a safe and secure area and does it have good security?

Support

  • What level of support is provided with the accommodation/property?
  • What level of competence, skill and training has the support provider/worker achieved?
  • How much support will be provided and what are the arrangements for the young person to access the support?

Tenancy Status

  • What is the tenancy or license status of the young person?
  • Can the young person continue to occupy the placement/accommodation after their 18th birthday?
  • Does the young person understand their rights and responsibilities associated with living in the placement/accommodation?
  • What are the move-on arrangements for the young person, particularly at the age of 18?

Financial Commitments

  • Is the placement/accommodation affordable on the young person’s current level of income/financial support?
  • Does the young person have to make any financial contributions? i.e. utilities charges, service charges etc
  • Does the young person have a sufficient financial income to cover travel costs, utilities, food etc?
  • Can the young person remain in the placement/accommodation after their 18th birthday?  If so, can the rent be covered by the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate?
  • Does the young person understand the financial arrangements associated with the placement/accommodation?


5. Supported Accommodation or Children’s Home?  Department for Education Guidance

Annex B - Supported Accommodation

The Annex below sets out criteria to be used in order to form a judgement about whether a placement option constitutes “supported accommodation” rather than children’s home. Where evaluation of these criteria indicates that staff are primarily responsible for resident care, rather than residents generally being able to assume responsibility for themselves - this would indicate that registration as a children home is likely to be appropriate.

  • Can young people go out of the establishment without staff permission? Where young people remain in the care of staff, whether the young people are in or out of the establishment, and therefore are expected to ask permission to leave the establishment, that indicates that care is provided;
  • Do young people have full control of their own finances? Where staff have any control or responsibility for a young person’s finances this is an indicator that care is provided;
  • Do young people have control over what they wear and of the resources to buy clothes?  Where staff have any control or responsibility for a young person’s finances this is an indicator that care is provided;
  • Are young people in charge of meeting all of their health needs, including such things as arranging GP or specialist health care appointments?  Do staff control any young person’s medication?  Young people may ask for advice and help but if decisions rest with the young person that does not mean that care is being provided. Where staff manage a young person’s health needs as described this is an indicator that care is provided;
  • Do staff have any access to medical records? Where staff have access to a young person’s medical records this is an indicator that care is provided;
  • Can young people choose to stay away overnight? Where staff have control about whether a young person stays away overnight this is an indicator that care is provided. Being expected to tell someone if they are going to be away overnight does not indicate provision of care, but needing to ask someone’s permission does;
  • Is there a sanctions policy which goes beyond house rules and legal sanctions that would be imposed on any adult? Where an establishment has and implements a formal or informal sanctions policy as described above this is an indicator that care is provided;
  • If the establishment accommodates both adults and young people, do those under 18 have any different supervision, support, facilities or restrictions? Where an establishment accommodates both adults and young people and there are significant differences in the levels of support, supervision or care these two groups receive this is an indicator that care is being provided for those under 18;
  • Are there regularly times when young people are on the premises with no direct staff supervision? Where young people are expected to spend a significant amount of their time on their own, without staff supervision, then this would suggest that though perhaps they are being offered some support, they are not being offered care;
  • Do staff have any responsibility for aftercare once a young person has left? Where staff have any responsibility for aftercare once a young person has left this is an indicator that that care is being provided, although some supported accommodation services will offer some support to help young people get established in their next accommodation;
  • Does the establishment’s available literature promise provision of care, or relate to specific care support provided to all residents rather than provide general information about services young people can choose whether they use or not? Where the establishment’s literature demonstrates an expectation that residents will be provided with care or use specific care support services, this is an indicator that that both care and accommodation are provided;
  • Does the home provide or commission a specialist support which forms part of the primary function of the establishment for a significant number of young people? Where there is a specialist support service which forms part of the primary function of the establishment this is an indicator that care is provided.

Annex B, Department for Education - Volume 5 - Children’s Homes Guidance 2011.

End