September 2019

Families First News

The latest news

New Families First Homeless Prevention Team!

The Families First Homeless Prevention Team is a Children’s Services team which aims to help those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

What is the purpose of the service?

The team aims to achieve the following outcome:

  • A reduction in the number of Intentionally Homeless families requiring support from Children’s Services by identifying and supporting families at the earliest opportunity
  • A reduction in Children’s Services spend per intentionally homeless family by developing plans to ensure families become self-sustaining and are not dependant on the local authority.

Who is the service for?

The team will work with families with children and young people aged 0 - 18 (up to 25 years if they have a special educational need or disability). We work with families who are at risk of becoming homeless or have (or about to) receive(d) an intentionally homeless decision from a local district/borough council.

A family could be at risk of becoming homeless if they:

  • Have a significant amount of rent arrears
  • Have received substantial support via the district/borough council through multiple support plans.
  • Have a combination of the above and are not engaging with support provided through the district/borough council.

What does the team do?

The team can support families by offering the following services:

  • Employment and training support;
  • Help addressing money and debt problems;
  • Benefits advice;
  • Help liaising with your housing providers including through the Personal Housing Plan process.

The team works under the Families First model (Hertfordshire’s approach to early help) and if it is identified that a family who is at risk of homelessness or is intentionally homeless have additional needs other than housing, the Families First, Homelessness Prevention Team is able to identify further support to overcome these issues. Additional problems could include:

  • Support reducing alcohol and/or drug misuse
  • Parenting
  • Mental and physical health problems
  • Parental conflict
  • Domestic Abuse
  • School related concerns – such as your child not attending school

If safeguarding concerns are identified and these additional concerns require a social care response from one of our Family Safeguarding Teams, the Families First, Homelessness Prevention Team will also be able to ensure that this support is provided in a timely way and will continue to work with families to address their housing needs.

Where is the team located?

The team is based within the Children’s Services Department within the Families First Triage team. There is a Consultant Social Worker and 4 Homeless Prevention Officers within the team. The Homeless Prevention Officer’s co-locate with local district/borough housing authorities and split their time between county offices in Stevenage and local district/borough council buildings.

How can the service be accessed?

From 1st October 2019, if a family has been identified as being at risk of homelessness or has received (or is about to receive) an intentionally homeless decision by a district/local authority, partners including housing authorities and providers should initiate a referral to Children’s Services via the Customer Service Centre (0300 123 4043). Further details regarding referrals for new cases can be found here.  

For cases currently open within Children’s Services, a request for a case transfer or request for support should be made by following the standard internal transfer procedures and completing the referral. Families with additional safeguarding concerns, as well as issues with housing will continue to be case held by safeguarding and specialist services and will be allocated a Homeless Prevention Officer to support with the development of an accommodation move on plan.

N.B Families who are ineligible for support as a results of No Recourse to Public Funds will continue to be supported via the Assessment Team.

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