SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter outlines the key issues of concern in relation to children living in temporary accommodation, and how to make a referral to Children's Social Care where there are concerns about a child.
Placement in temporary accommodation, often at a distance from previous support networks or involving frequent moves, can lead to individuals and families "falling through the net" and becoming disengaged from health, education, social care and welfare support systems.
Some families who have experienced homelessness and are placed in temporary accommodation by local authorities can have very transient lifestyles.
Some families in which children are at risk of being harmed move home frequently and there is a danger that they avoid monitoring or contact with agencies through this process.
The following circumstances may be associated with indicators of emerging vulnerability or more serious impacts on the welfare of children:
- Children not registered with a GP for periods of time;
- Children attending Hospital Emergency Departments for treatment, rather than engaging with primary health services;
- Children not enrolled at a school;
- Persistent non-school attendance.
Practitioners who support families in temporary accommodation may identify initial concerns regarding children's welfare. They have a responsibility to take action and/or refer on to another agency. These concerns may relate to:
- What they have observed or witnessed happening to a child;
- The physical conditions within the home/accommodation;
- The family's reactions to crisis;
- Inconsistencies in the information given to housing, homelessness staff and to other agencies.
It is important that effective systems are in place to ensure that the children of homeless families receive services for example: health and education as well as any other specific types of services as these families may be at risk of becoming disengaged from services. Often practitioners will use an Early Help Assessment to coordinate services and where additional complex needs and concerns arise about a child these should be referred to Children's Social Care, see Making a Referral to Social Care Procedure.