Children can be taken into care or supported by local authorities based on different sections of the Children Act 1989. The section that they are looked after or supported under influences the rules that apply and the entitlements that they have.
A child is looked after by a local authority if he or she is:
There has historically been some confusion about whether homeless 16 and 17 year olds should be housed and supported by housing departments or looked after by children’s services.
A number of legal judgments over recent years, most notably G vs Southwark in 2009, have restated and clarified the established legal position that the duty under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 takes precedence over the duties in the Housing Act 1996 in providing for children in need who require accommodation.
Read more about the case law and how local authorities should respond to it in the CLG and DCSF statutory guidance and NCAS and Shelter’s briefings in the related documents section.