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Children: Protection

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to ensure that children who have been identified as being at risk are adequately housed. (249582)

The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (2000) is used for the assessment of all children in need, including cases where there are concerns that a child may be suffering significant harm. The framework provides a systematic basis for collecting and analysing information to support professional judgments about how to help children and families in the best interests of the child. Practitioners should use the framework to gain an understanding of the impact of wider family and environmental factors including adequate housing on the parents and child.

Judgments taken by practitioners should take careful account of a number of issues on housing, such as: does the accommodation have basic amenities and facilities appropriate to the age and development of the child and other resident members and is the housing accessible and suitable to the needs of disabled family members? They should consider the interior and exterior of the accommodation and immediate surroundings and the provision of basic amenities including water, heating, sanitation, cooking facilities, sleeping arrangements and cleanliness, hygiene and safety and their impact on the child's upbringing.

If the family are social tenants, or on the housing register, the issues practitioners should take into account may contribute to the family being awarded preference in a local authority's allocation scheme. The circumstances in which households need to be given "reasonable preference" include where people:

are homeless;

occupy unsanitary, overcrowded, or unsatisfactory housing conditions;

need to move for medical or welfare reasons, including grounds relating to a disability; or

need to move to avoid hardship

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families when he plans to publish the results of the review on the availability of emergency accommodation for children and young people at risk. (271656)

Since the publication of the Young Runaways Action Plan in June last year, the Department has been conducting a review of emergency accommodation provision for young runaways. A review of existing literature has been completed, and we have commissioned The Children's Society to conduct new research about the demand for emergency accommodation, and the most effective ways of providing it. As part of their research, the Children's Society have interviewed local authority officials, police officers, third sector partners and young people themselves. The evidence gathering phase is due to be completed in early May, and I anticipate that my officials will receive a draft of the report in early July. We will publish the findings of the report as soon as possible after that.