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Social Services: Children

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his assessment of the availability of emergency accommodation for children or young people who need an immediate place of safety is in each children's services area. (250604)

The provision of emergency accommodation for young people who need it is the responsibility of local authorities. Support services for runaways should be determined and run through local children's trusts and other stakeholders, according to local service needs. Local authority children's services are therefore best placed to assess the type and levels of support required, including, where appropriate, accommodation. This could include emergency foster care or short-term placement in a children's home, as well as counselling and mediation services, but the exact mix will vary according to locally determined need.

The National Indicator NI71: Children missing from home or care, becomes effective from 1 April 2009. Local authorities will be asked to self assess the services, information and processes that they have in place to respond to the needs of young runaways using a self assessment tool developed for this purpose.

In order to support local authority children's services in their provision of emergency accommodation my Department is funding research that will identify successful and cost effective commissioning models using services provided by the voluntary sector, and by helping commissioners at every level understand more about young people's perceptions of different models of emergency accommodation.