William Eichler 05 July 2019

Council apologises for misinforming homeless teenager about their rights

Essex County Council has apologised for turning away homeless children from care following a judicial review and has committed to better train its social workers.

The court case was brought by Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) on behalf of a 16-year-old homeless child (“D”) who had been refused support by the Essex Young People’s Partnership (EYPP).

The EYPP is a housing gateway through which 16- and 17-year-old children and young adults who are at risk of homelessness can access accommodation and support. It was introduced in June 2017.

“D” presented herself to the council as homeless and asked for help developing independent living skills in a supported arrangement. She requested not to be placed in family-based foster care due to her difficult family background.

The court heard that Essex CC did not inform “D” of her entitlements to accommodation and on-going social care support and refused her social care input on the basis that she did not wish to be placed in foster care.

CCLC requested a judicial review, arguing that the ‘Looked After Child’ regime under the Children Act 1989 compels the council to provide any type of accommodation on the condition that it has proper regard to the child’s needs.

Essex CC has apologised for its failures and said that decisions as to the type of accommodation to be provided are now being made without any involvement of the EYPP.

It has also embarked on training of its social workers involved in assessing 16- and 17- year-old children to ensure they are aware of the range of accommodation and support that can be provided.

Commenting on the ruling, senior solicitor at Coram Children’s Legal Centre Kelly Everett said: ‘Since the inception of the EYPP in June 2017, we at Coram have represented a number of 16- and 17-year-old children who, like D, have not only needed accommodation but also emotional and material support from Essex children’s services but been diverted away from these protections based on misinformation about their entitlements.

‘This has meant that these children were without support at a crucial point in their adolescent years.

‘We are extremely pleased that Essex has accepted that it needs to amend its flawed practices and that it will train its social workers accordingly.

‘Although no audit will be carried out into the number of children affected by Essex’s practices, it is our hope that other children who were denied the protections under the Children Act 1989 will now be able to come forward and seek the support they are entitled to from Essex.’

A spokesperson for Essex County Council, said: 'The council has accepted that there was unfortunately a technical error in this case in how we responded to this young person’s needs as we assessed them. However, she was provided with accommodation at all times and did receive significant support from the county council. We do not accept that there was a general unlawful practice and there has been no court finding against the council.

'We are however improving the training of our staff to ensure that there is no repetition. In a case such as this we would always apologise. This occurred two years ago in 2017 and since then OFSTED has rated our children’s services ‘Outstanding’.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Rights Of Way Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£27,741 - £29,577
We are looking for a candidate who has practical experience of working with Rights of Way and access issues and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Casual Assistant Swimming Instructor

Chelmsford City Council
Grade 4 - £11.01 per hour
Riverside Leisure Centre is Chelmsford City Council’s flagship leisure facility, offering a variety of sporting activities where there is something... Chelmsford, Essex
Recuriter: Chelmsford City Council

Systems Support Analyst

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum
We are committed to promoting equality and respecting diversity and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Service Manager

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£59,111 - £67,900 per annum
Create a better quality of life for our most vulnerable children and young people. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Contracts and Commissioning Manager

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£44,370 - £50,964 per annum
An opportunity has arisen within the Adult Learning team that develops and oversees the contracting and commissioning function for this service.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue