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What support can be provided?

The child in need assessment will determine what support is required to meet the child’s needs. Usually, accommodation and/ or financial support is provided to a family with no recourse to public funds. Any additional needs that the child may have, for example, due to a disability, would also need to be met.

Accommodation could be a room in a B&B, hostel or shared house. Some councils will place families in a self-contained property or specialist supported accommodation. As support may be required for a lengthy period whilst immigration claims are being resolved, it is important that councils consider how they can source and provide accommodation that will adequately meet a child’s needs during this period.

Families may be provided with subsistence payments to meet essential living needs, and other financial support to meet the needs of the child, for example, travel to school or meeting the cost of school meals if the child does not qualify for free school meals. As support may be ongoing for several months, or possibly years, subsistence payments will need to be provided at a rate which ensures that the welfare needs of all members of the household are adequately met.

Each council will make its own decision about how much financial support is paid to a family. Social services may refer to internal guidance that sets out basic amounts, which should be made available to families receiving support. Social services would need to consider what amount would be reasonable to meet the family’s essential living needs as well as any additional needs that have been identified in the child in need assessment. Amounts may be varied depending on the family’s circumstances and what other income is available to them. The Council may need to include an amount to cover the cost of utilities and council tax if these are not paid directly to the accommodation provider. Payments are increasingly being made on pre-paid cards or into a person’s bank account in order to reduce contact whilst Covid-19 remains a public health risk.

Depending on the parent's immigration status and the reasons why they are destitute, social services may need to signpost the family to get legal advice about their immigration case, benefits advice and/or assistance with employment.