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2.2.46 Temporary Accommodation and Transient Lifestyles

In order to provide mobile families with responsive, consistent, high quality services, local authorities and partner agencies must develop and support a culture of joint responsibility and provision for all children.

Children and families who move more frequently between local authorities include homeless families, asylum seekers and refugees, gypsy, traveller and Roma families Looked After children (Medway) / Children in Care (Kent), and families experiencing domestic abuse.

A parent’s homelessness or placement in temporary accommodation, often at a distance from previous support networks, can result in or be associated with transient lifestyles. There is a risk the family will fall through the net and become disengaged from health, education and other  support systems. There may also be a reduction in previously available family / community support.

Temporary accommodation, for example bed and breakfast accommodation or women’s refuges, may present additional risks eg  where other adults are also resident who may pose a risk to the child.

Families that move frequently  can find it difficult to access the services they need. For those already socially excluded, moving frequently can worsen the effects of this  exclusion and increase isolation.

Some families in which children are harmed move home frequently to avoid contact with concerned agencies, so that no single agency has a complete picture of the family.

As well as  the indicators of risk in the Recognition of Significant Harm Procedure, the following circumstances associated with some families with a transient lifestyle are a cause for additional concern:
  • Child/ren not consistently registered with a GP;
  • Child/ren attending hospital A&E departments frequently for treatment, rather than engaging with primary health services;
  • Child/ren missing from a school roll, or persistently not attending (see Children Missing from Education / Not Attending School Procedure);
  • Information spread across a network of agencies with no single agency holding the whole picture of a family history.

Local agencies and professionals, working with families where there are outstanding child welfare concerns, must bear in mind unusual extended non-school attendance, missed appointments, or abortive home visits, may indicate that the family has moved out of the area.

This possibility must also be borne in mind when there are concerns about an unborn child who may be at future risk of Significant Harm.

Additional procedures are contained in Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure and the Missing Children and Families Procedure and the Pre-birth Procedures Procedures.