If you are not eligible for homelessness assistance or the homelessness department have decided that they do not have a duty to help you and you have children who live with you, then Social Services may have a duty to help you.
Social Services have a duty to protect children in need within their area. They have the power to do this by providing their family with accommodation (if they are homeless or at risk of harm in their home) or financial support (if they have no other money).
What you need to do:
Contact Social Services and request a Child in Need assessment. Social Services will use this to decide what duty they may owe you. There are some useful templates here to help you make the request.
Social Services must carry out this assessment if they believe a child may be in need. A child will be considered to be ‘in need’ if:
- The child cannot achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without support from the local authority
- The child is disabled
- The child’s family does not have adequate accommodation or sufficient income to meet the child’s essential needs
The assessment will involve questions about why you are homeless or without money, whether anyone has helped you in the past, whether anyone can help you in the future and what help you need to keep your children safe and well.
Social Services should acknowledge your request for an assessment within one working day and should carry out the assessment in a timely manner. The maximum time limit for completing the assessment is 45 working days. In urgent cases, for example if you are or will soon be street homeless, Social Services are able to provide you with interim support. You will need to inform Social Services about this and request for support to be provided until the assessment is complete.
What we can do for you:
If you feel that your local authority has made an unfair decision regarding your application for support under Section 17 – for example if you have been refused accommodation under Section 17 or the accommodation provided is unsuitable – our Public Law team can help you to challenge the decision through a process known as Judicial Review. Judicial Review is a procedure where the decision of public bodies such as a local authority is reviewed by the Administrative Court who has the power to overturn the public body’s decision.
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In the meantime if you need further information on your rights to accommodation and support under the Children Act 1989 please click here.
Other helpful organisations:
Project 17 – Project 17 works to end destitution among migrant children. They work with families experiencing exceptional poverty to improve their access to local authority support.
Child Law Advice– The Child Law Advice Service provides legal advice and information on family, child and education law affecting children and families in England.
NRPF Network – The NRPF Network is a network of local authorities and partner organisations who focus on the law relating to migrants with care needs who have no recourse to public funds.
Migrant Families – Find out where migrant families can get help with housing and financial support when they have no recourse to public funds.