Joining up the commissioning of accommodation and support for young people aged 16 - 25 Version 2 December 2010
Welcome This resource is designed to help local authorities and their partners to take forward a joint commissioning approach to accommodation and support for young people in their area, and to provide ideas and information to support the process. It will be of particular interest to commissioners and strategic managers with responsibility for: Looked after and leaving care services Supporting People or housing related support Strategichousing, social landlord and homelessness/housing options services Youth offending, health and other services working with vulnerable young people Tackling child poverty
An example to begin:Oxfordshire young peoples’ pathway • Partnership approach to developing housing and support services forvulnerable young people aged 16-24, including looked after children aged 16-18 who need new placements(including unaccompanied asylum seeking children),and young people leaving care. • Funding from the Children Young People and Families Department, Supporting People and the 5 local housing authorities. • Joint commissioning process to enable the development of a clear pathway of housing and support services, aiming to: • Prevent young people becoming homeless • Ensure high standards of accommodation and support • Provide a range of accommodation options to meet diverse needs • Improve value for money • Process overseen by the Children’s Trust and underpinned by a joint commissioning strategy and a partnership agreement. 20% saving whilst meeting young peoples’ needs better For a full case study see www.commissioningsupport.org.uk and search for ‘Oxfordshire’
Section 1Introduction – why consider a joint approach? Version 2 November 2010
Why change? Common problems reported by local authorities, young people and partners: • ‘Compressed’ transitions for young people leaving care – 18th birthdays… • Minimal choice and control for young people – personalisation?? • Placement/tenancy breakdowns, weak contingencies, burned bridges • Duplication and gaps, with common pressure points often not addressed, e.g. emergencies, high risk, move-on • … And the need for savings. 16 & 17 year old LAC Young people at risk Care leavers
Common needs We know from practice and research that young people do best with: • Practical and emotional preparation for independence • Gradual, supported transitions with choice, control and flexibility about where they live, how they are supported and how quickly things change • Follow up support as needed 16 & 17 year old LAC Young people at risk Care leavers
What can be gained from joining up more? Efficiencies coupled with better experiences and outcomes for young people by bridging the gap between children’s services and (adult) housing and housing support services Better links with wraparound services by designing them into the system Pooled commissioning and procurement expertise including approaches to quality and standards Advantages of increased scale, for example reducing procurement costs, aligning services, increasing influence on markets.
A strategic approach to commissioning Commissioning is ‘the process for deciding how to use the total Resource available … in order to improve outcomes in the most efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable way’. Partners will need to agree a commissioning strategy focused on delivering agreed outcomes for young people contributing tolocal strategic objectives enabling partners to meet their statutory duties within known and/or anticipated resource constraints
Who needs to be involved? If you decide to adopt a joint commissioning approach to young people’s accommodation and support needs, all partners will be signing up to considerable change. Children’s services, Housing, Supporting People and potentially Youth Offending Services, PCTs and other services working with young people; providers in the voluntary and private sectors; social landlords and young people and their families will be involved and affected. Its critical that the right people are involved from the outset, so that any decision to go ahead has been informed by young people, families and other key stakeholders and has the support and understanding of those who will make its implementation possible. Top level backing and explicit links to key local strategies and plans will be needed to get the process moving and help unblock any barriers to change further down the line.
Prevention and supporting families • The effectiveness of your family support and intervention services will significantly affect the numbers of young people coming into, and remaining in, the system and thereforethe capacity you will need in your accommodation and support pathways. • Most young people seeking help because of homelessness do so because of problems at home. How local services respond to young people and their families can have a dramatic effect on the proportion who are able to remain at or return home, or live with other family members or responsible adults in their network. (See slide 28) • There is no national data but anecdotally, different local authorities have reported between 30% and 85%of 16 and 17 year olds seeking help because of homelessness or threatened homelessnessreturning to live with family members. • Universal and targeted services for children, young people and families have a roles in preventing young people from having to live away from home before they are ready – much can be done before families reach a crisis point that leads a child or young person to seek help because they feel, or have been told, they can not longer live at home. • Consider applying an invest to save approach within your commissioning strategy.
Section 3Identifying public sector expenditure on young peoples’ accommodation and support in your area… and what it is paying for
As well as looking at the money, remember to consider: • Buildings • Workforce and expertise • Providers • Co-production – the role of young people and families
You will need to understand what is currently being spent and which bits should be considered for the joint commissioning pot. Options include: Children’s Services Placement and leaving care budgets– protect stability for young people in settled placements, but consider money you would expect to spend on first or new looked after and leaving care placements for young people aged 16 plus. ‘Section 17 budgets’ – e.g. is money being used to pay for emergency accommodation (e.g. B&B) for 16 and 17 year olds who were not looked after? If so can you put it in the pot and develop suitable alternative provision in partnership?
…continued Housing and housing related support Supporting people revenue funding – in 2008/09 there were almost 20,000 admissions of 16 and 17 year olds into SP funded accommodation in England. [NB in some areas some of these young people will have been looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17, often funded through internal charging of children’s services by SP] Temporary accommodation secured by housing authorities / departments under the homelessness legislation. [Note that, depending on the type of accommodation used, significant proportions of this is recouped from DWP under HB subsidy rules so LA expenditure should be fairly low] Tenancy sustainment services provided by some housing authorities and social landlords, funded in a range of ways. Rent and service charges– will form a significant element of the revenue flow for accommodation and support services. Housing Benefitis likely to be covering most of this, with young people making a contribution from their personal income for services which aren’t eligible for HB and, if they are earning enough, the rent. The local (children’s services) authority will need to fund any rent and service charges for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 and 17 (eligible and relevant children).The whole revenue package (rent, service charges and support costs) will therefore need to be considered during planning and procurement –beware comparing support costs alone with all-inclusive placement costs for eligible and relevant children.
…continued In addition, other departments and agencies working with young people sometimes fund accommodation or support e.g.: Some YOTs retain a budget to make sure they can access short term accommodation, for example to prevent young people from being remanded into custody for want of an address, and / or contribute funding to supported accommodation services. PCTs fund residential placements for young people with mental health problems. There are examples of PCTs contributing to high support accommodation services to obtain local, high quality and good value options for some of their clients. It may also make sense for others such as learning disability, drug and alcohol services to contribute in kind or cash to the cost of support in (generally high support) accommodation given the potential impact on the outcomes they achieve with young people and corresponding savings.
Mapping the money and the provision In order to guide the process of analysing the various flows of funding and the provision they buy, you may find it helpful to first identify some key questions to help you determine how well current services are offering value for money. For example, to what extent does each service: Contribute to relevant strategic priorities? Enable the LA(s) to fulfil statutory functions? (including consideration of the duty to provide sufficient accommodation for looked after children in your area due to come into force in April 2011) Meet identified housing, care and support needs of young people in the area, targeting those who need them most? Deliver high quality services which demonstrate positive outcomes with young people? Offer sufficient flexibility to be able to be tailored to meet the needs of individual young people - personalisation? Satisfy service users and stakeholders? Offer competitive prices?
The following information about each service may be helpful in making your analysis: Procurement method, e.g. spot purchase, framework agreement, block contract Annual expenditure (for some funding sources analysis may be required to separate out accommodation expenditure, for example if Children’s services ‘section 17’ budgets have been used to provide emergency accommodation, or the YOT occasionally funds emergency B&B accommodation). Any planned or anticipated reductions in funding likely to affect the provision. The nature, quantity and type of provision purchased and a broad assessment of its suitability (e.g. Independent Fostering Agency, private placement in PRS with support, floating support, supported lodgings, young people’s supported accommodation, Foyer, emergency/assessment accommodation, B&B, all ages hostels/supported accommodation). The unit cost of each ‘placement’ (using the same units for each type of provision, perhaps ‘per person per week’ and/or per hour of support). Which young people are ‘eligible’ to access the provision including its use to discharge statutory functions under Children’s and Homelessness legislation. How young people access the provision (in what circumstances, referral routes, speed/flexibility of access). Geographical locations and degree of flexibility in this. The levels of support available to young people in each type of provision (perhaps categorised as high, medium, low). Tip – agree shared definitions for support levels (quantative, e.g. hourly rates and qualitative) as perceptions may differ between commissioning partners and between commissioners and providers. Outcomes achieved with young people – for example from Supporting People outcomes monitoring and children's services management information where available, plus softer information from stakeholders. The balance between need/demand and supply
Involving young people, family members and front line workers from key stakeholder services  Working with a range of agencies and services, collect examples of ‘customer journeys’ from a cross section of young people who have used housing and support services and experience a range of circumstances – for example young people who are: Looked after, care leavers, and neither Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people Aged under and over 18 A mix of genders Young parents With and without partners In urban and rural areas as appropriate to your locality In learning, work and neither Involved in the youth justice system including having been released from custody in need of housing and support Needing a range of levels and types of support including re mental health, learning disabilities, use of alcohol and drugs. From BME groups, different cultural and religious backgrounds, and LGBT Recovering from trauma such as experience of domestic violence This information should be gathered directly from young people rather than, for example, as case studies provided by agencies who work with them.
Involving young people, family members and front line workers from key stakeholder services  Analyse these with young people, family members and workers to identify critical points - problems and strengths - in the system (or series of parallel and overlapping systems), for example: Access to and timing of quality advice on accommodation and support options and help to prevent homelessness Access routes and eligibility criteria for services - which options are open to which groups of young people? What factors determine these and do they correspond with needs? Drivers for planned moves – led by young peoples’ needs or pressures on particular budgets? Triggers for unplanned moves – placement and tenancy breakdowns and evictions Consequences for young people of unplanned moves – e.g. exclusions from other services Securing settled, independent accommodation – are young people ready to manage independently and how well do they cope? Are their move-on options maximised? Analyse the relative costs and outcomes associated with the different accommodation and support pathways accessible to different groups, including when things go wrong. Where is the best value in current arrangements?
Section 5Analysing needs and gaps and agreeing priorities Use the qualitative insights developed during the journey mapping to underpin your needs analysis and help quantify needs and gaps, and test your analysis with young people and stakeholders.
Needs data  Available data will depend on your local monitoring systems. Find out what you can about (not an exhaustive list): The looked after population and projected numbers of young people expected to leave care over the period of your strategy, including any peaks and troughs. Numbers of young people coming into the system aged 16 and 17, including in particular homeless 16 and 17 year olds and unaccompanied asylum seeking young people. Depending on how things work in your area the ‘gateways’ for 16 and 17 year olds into publicly funded accommodation could include: The housing options service(s) Children’s services Supported accommodation services (through self referral or direct referral by other agencies working with young people) Note that extensive Supporting People data is likely to be available. A purpose designed gateway, e.g. a multi-agency panel
Needs data  Housing and support needs linked to particular circumstances, for example young people in education, young people in work, YOT clients (including on release from custody), young parents and/or young couples, young people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, substance misuse Numbers of young people aged 18 plus (18-21 or 25 for example) with support needs seeking help with housing. Numbers, characteristics and referral routes of young people entering supporting people services. Numbers, circumstances and placing agencies of young people entering B&B or other unsuitable accommodation, and data on length of stay. Evictions and placement breakdowns with reasons – what do they say about unmet needs? Move-on issues; is part of any shortage in supply to do with barriers to young people moving on when they are ready for more independence?
Needs data  – homelessness prevention Make sure you know how this is working in your area. How many young people seeking help because of homelessness are supported to remain in the family home or their wider family network rather than entering services? Does this vary with different access routes into services? If so, what makes the difference, and what scope is there for improvement? Some factors to consider: Embedding a creative and tenacious family focus at all first points of contact, Making sure prevention work always takes place alongside assessment Opening up family support and family group conferencing services to this client group. Continuing work to reconcile families beyond decisions to accommodate Investing to make reconciliations sustainable Prevention, not gate keeping; systems need to be in place to ensure the interests of children are safeguarded in the face of resource constraints.
Agreeing priorities By this stage you will have a clear picture of: The nature and cost of services currently provided The resources potentially available to invest / re-align into a more integrated approach The quality of young peoples’ experience of these service offers, and strengths and weaknesses of individual services and the ‘system(s)’ overall The needs of young people Given the likely tension between needs and available resources, partners will need to agree whether there are particular groups of young people who’s needs will be given greater priority within your new service offer. Any such priorities should be clearly set out in your commissioning strategy. Mechanisms will need to be put in place to ensure these priorities are followed through in the establishment and management of your pathways (see section 6)
Section 6Planning your accommodation and support pathways for young people
A pathway approach The aim of an accommodation pathway is to enable young people to move through services in a structured way. It should enable them to move from more intensively supported accommodation to more independent accommodation as they develop life skills and confidence - and as they make life choices that affect their accommodation and support needs and preferences. Effective pathways commonly include four basic components: Assessment services – short stay with emergency access so that B&B is not used. Not all young people need to use assessment services, for example young people leaving care in a planned way. Progression services (where young people can develop the skills they need to live independently, including support with education, training and employment ) Specialist services (which can cater for young people with high support needs and challenging behaviour) Move on options with resettlement and floating support services (these can be in the private rented sector or social housing and may include flat shares).
A pathway approach (cont.) There are a wide range of options for providing each component, and choice and flexibility can be built in at each stage. All services should able to be tailored to the needs of individual young people, and work together to meet needs and increase flexibility. Whilst the overall direction of travel for young people will be towards increasing independence, it is important that individual young people can move to obtain more intensive or different support if they need it. Including on some flexible resource able to deliver intensive help where a placement anywhere in the pathway is at risk can be very cost effective, reducing the need for permanently ‘high support/tolerance’ services/placements and preventing placement breakdowns. Managed pro-actively, pathways can dramatically reduce both the incidence and impact of placement/tenancy breakdowns.
Design options Here are some variables to consider in consultation with young people, their families, providers and other key stakeholders in establishing a range of provision to meet the needs you have identified at each stage in the pathway: Support levels – including high support for the most vulnerable and challenging (incorporating wrap-around support from specialist agencies where needed) Length of stay and degree of flexibility Shared with other young people – Foyers and supported accommodation schemes Size of accommodation based services such as Foyers and supported accommodation Shared with a household – fostering, supported lodgings, Nightstop Self contained – private renting and social renting, floating or attached support Locationsand proximity to key services and support networks Affordability and incentives for employment Facilities and support for study Diversity – for example are there any groups of young people requiring access to dedicated services because of, for example, factors linked to culture, gender or sexuality?
Assessment / emergency accommodation As a minimum it should be suitable and prevent the use of B&B and other unsuitable accommodation. But it should also be a key prevention tool,not simply a holding position between placement breakdowns or a gateway to living away from home. In practice: Time Out Lambeth - for 16 and 17 year olds at risk of homelessness Young people referred by Family Services if initial prevention work not successful 8-12 week stay Specialist mediation staff 61% of young people returned home during the 1st year of operation
Shaping and developing the market • Commissioners will need effective relationships with all providers (including private, voluntary and public sector providers) to ensure markets can be incentivised to provide the required services. • Assess the markets of providers for placements, accommodation and support, including looking at the different business models used by both internal and external providers, and the ways in which they can respond to address identified needs. • Consider both the support and accommodation elements in supported accommodation models. For example: • For building based services such as supported accommodation and foyers, it will be necessary to ensure that appropriate accommodation is available for young people using the service and will make sense to ensure that suitable buildings in the area are best used in order to secure best use of capital assets. • Where ‘floating support’ or outreach is to be provided, mechanisms will be needed to ensure access to suitable accommodation in the private or social rented sector, for example through contractual requirements on the providers to secure accommodation in the private rented sector, or collaboration with social landlords. • The role of ‘community hosting’ models such as supported lodgings and Nightstop • Local authorities and their partners may be involved in or want to use national, regional and sub-regional commissioning arrangements to manage markets where this will help secure particular types of placement. • Where the commissioning exercise is expected to result in a dramatic change in the shape of services and/or in providers, the transition will need to be carefully planned to protect outcomes for young people already accommodated.
Procurement methods • Whilst mapping the money and provision (section 3) you probably found a range of procurement methods and variable procurement practice between partners. • Bear in mind that Spot purchasing has been found to be inefficient and reduces commissioners’ ability to manage the market, (para 4.16, Sufficiency: Statutory guidance on securing sufficient accommodation for looked after Children, DCSF 2010) although it may be appropriate in some individual circumstances, for example where a young person has very specific support needs. • Partners will need to agree what approaches they plan to use, and could choose to vary these between the types of placement/accommodation sought – for example, framework agreements may be most appropriate for procuring some types of placement, for example foster care, whilst block contracts may make more sense for others, for example building based provision such as supported housing and foyers.
Managing a pathway See the pathway as a whole system rather than a collection of individual services. Put in place streamlined multi-agency arrangements to manage and monitor: Entry, move through and exit from the pathway, linked to assessment and pathway/support planning to ensure the best fit between each young person’s needs and the services they access – don't let it turn into a sausage machine! Pro-active action to prevent placement breakdowns, addressing challenging behaviour and/or lack of engagement of young people by moves within the pathway rather than eviction from services. Move-on options and support to prevent silting up of services Outcomes for young people against agreed objectives for both individual services and the pathway as a whole.
Managing a pathway (cont.) One option is the establishment of a multi-agency placement panel, reported to be effective by a number of LAs. Panels demand significant officer time (often weekly or fortnightly meetings) but the time is deployed in a planned way to provide a preventative and pro-active service. This can save considerable unplanned (und generally unmeasured) time and service disruption spent in response to crises across a wide range of services. Services will need the flexibility to make emergency accommodation placements between meetings, reporting retrospectively to the panel. Another option is the establishment of a post or team responsible for co-ordinating placements and moves within the pathways, reporting to a multi-agency group made up of commissioners and any other key stakeholders. They could have recourse to multi-agency meetings for young people with more complex needs. It may make sense to retain a specific placement function from some young people / types of provision - for example a children’s services placement team responsible for placing looked after young people in regulated provision where this is the required option, as they will know and manage the market for all looked after children and young people. This team could work closely with a wider placement panel or team responsible for placements in unregulated supported provision, both: referring looked after children and care leavers into the pathway responding if a looked after young person is struggling to cope in supported accommodation and some form of regulated placement is identified as the most appropriate alternative.
Guidance and resources  Statutory Guidance; Care Planning, Placement and Review, Transition to Adulthood and Sufficiency: http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/a0065502/care-planning-regulations-and-guidance Oxfordshire and Camden case studies: www.commissioningsupport.org.uk/ (search for ‘Oxfordshire’ and ‘Camden’) Guidance to local areas in England on pooling and aligning budgets (CLG 2010) www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/poolingaligningbudgets Total Place: a whole area approach to public services (HM Treasury and CLG, 2010) www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/total_place_report.pdf Better Outcomes for Children’s Services though Joint Funding (DCSF 2007) www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/strategy/managersandleaders/planningandcommission ng/jointfunding/jointfund/ Good Practice Guidance on joint working between housing and children’s services: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/goodpracticeguide
Guidance and resources  National Youth Reference Group: http://www.nationalyouthreferencegroup.co.uk/ National Youth Homelessness Scheme: http://www.communities.gov.uk/youthhomelessness/ Supporting People Quality Assurance Framework: www.sitra.org.uk/index.php?id=1019 Foyer Accreditation: http://www.foyer.net/level3.asp?level3id=184 Depaul Nightstop UK (Nightstop umbrella organisation) http://www.depaulnightstopuk.org/ Statutory Homelessness in England: The Experience of Families and 16 and 17 year olds (see chapter 12) http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/experienceoffamilies NCAS accommodation resources: http://www.leavingcare.org.uk/professionals/projects/accommodation/accomresources Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Subsidy Circular HB/CTB S7/2009, Department for Work and Pensions (re Housing Benefit subsidy affecting the costs to housing authorities of providing temporary accommodation under the homelessness legislation): http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/s7-2009.pdf
Guidance and resources  See www.commissioningsupport.org.ukfor further information and resources, Including the following: Achieving Better Outcomes: Commissioning in children’s services (2009) This document introduces the essential characteristics of good commissioning in children’s services, in 18 modules. A-Z of Commissioning (2010) 18 modules of training to support service managers, providers and commissioners to better understand commissioning, redesign services, manage the markets and achieve efficiency savings; available from: http://www.commissioningsupport.org.uk/events--training/csp-events--training/development-programme.aspx Outcomes and Efficiency: Commissioning for Looked After Children (2010) This guidance was developed in conjunction with commissioners and providers. It is aimed at lead members, directors of children’s services and senior commissioners and sets out a number of practical solutions which may be useful in optimising the commissioning of services for looked after children.
For further information about using this resource contact Val Keen, Specialist Adviser, Youth Homelessness, Communities and Local Government Valerie.email@example.com 07929207623 Katy Burch, Commissioning Support Programme firstname.lastname@example.org 01225 484088