Housing options protocol for care leavers: guidance for corporate parents

Guidance for local authorities and their community planning partners on improving housing and accommodation outcomes for care leavers.

Principles of Good Practice

Principle 1 - Connection and Belonging

26. In planning an individual's transition from a care setting corporate parents will want to ensure that the provision of appropriate, person-centred and sustained support is central. There should be an emphasis on assisting the individual to develop personal and professional support networks. The support made available by corporate parents should reflect the notion that to survive and thrive individuals need to be 'interdependent', part of a network of positive relationships. This interdependency is even more important for young people who, as a result of earlier life experiences, may have limited or damaged relationships with their families and communities.

Principle 2 - Readiness of Care Leavers

27. "Readiness" is the ability of a care leaver to effectively care for themselves. Agencies involved in supporting a care leaver through the transition out of a care setting will want ensure that the individual is properly assessed, their needs identified and support organised before they move. This will be particularly relevant when a looked after young person or care leaver is not fully able to make this assessment by themselves. As highlighted in the "Staying Put Scotland" guidance, it is essential that looked after young people are encouraged, enabled and empowered to remain in positive, supportive care settings until they are ready to move on. [30]

Principle 3 - Corporate Parenting

28. 'Corporate parenting' relates to the partnerships forged between relevant agencies in the interests of looked after children and care leavers, but being a good corporate parent is about much more than working together to fulfil statutory duties. As these young people's corporate parents we have a moral obligation to provide the opportunities and supports that any good family would provide. Indeed corporate parents will need to dedicate time, resources and perseverance to addressing the legacies of significant early disadvantage.

29. Like most extended families, the corporate family consists of many parts - local authorities as a whole (including - but not restricted to - housing, leisure and finance departments); health services, both universal and specialist; independent sector providers; the police and all those parts of the system which support service delivery agencies. Supporting a young person into adulthood depends very much on all family members playing their parts. It may be at a particular point in a child's life, or it may be constant, but together all of those parts are a powerful force for good.

30. As responsible corporate parents all parts of a CPP will want to ensure that no care leaver has to present as homeless to access accommodation or housing. This commitment should apply to all current and previous care leavers, regardless of whether they were looked after away from home or not.

Principle 4 - Care Leavers' Views

31. Children and young people are entitled to express their views freely, without discrimination related to gender, age, social background and special needs. [31] Care leavers must be actively involved in all decision making processes that directly affect them. Services must ensure that individuals have all relevant information, and opportunities to share their views.

32. The advantages of engaging young people in decision-making can be far-reaching. When children and young people have the opportunity to identify problems and solutions, they are more likely to own the decision, take responsibility for its success or failure. Changes become things done by a young person, rather than to them. Inclusion in decision making also helps to build up their self-confidence, encouraging them to engage more with the services and support available. [32]

Principle 5 - Information Sharing

33. In order to provide the most effective service for care leavers, information may have to be shared among different service providers. Community Planning Partners should have in place procedures for ensuring information is shared timeously and proportionally; 'the right information at the right time'. The Data Protection Act 1998 does not prevent information sharing where this is 'reasonable and expected', in the interests of the individual concerned. (For more details about information sharing under a GIRFEC model, please the guidance provided by the UK's Information Commissioner Office.) [33]

Principle 6 - Equality and Diversity

34. Support for care leavers should aim to address the inequalities associated with socio-economic disadvantage, as per the aspirations and provision of the Equality Act 2010 (Part 1 (1)). Corporate parents and Community Planning Partners will also want to ensure that there is an appropriate range of accommodation and housing options for care leavers, including those with additional needs (such as a disability) or those who are parents.


Back to top