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3.14.3 Children Accommodated by Health Authorities


This procedure outlines the action to be taken by Children’s Services following notification by Health Authority or Local Authority (Education Service) that they are accommodating a child or young person. Section 85 and Section 86 Children Act 1989.


  1. Background
  2. Procedure

1. Background

Section 85 of the Children Act 1989 requires Health or Education Authorities to notify Children’s Services Specialist Services where they either have Accommodated a child for more than three months, or at the time they first accommodate the child, intend to do so for more than three months.

Section 86 of the Children Act requires anyone providing accommodation for a child in a residential care home or nursing home for more than three months, or intend at the outset to accommodate them for more than three months, to similarly notify Children’s Services.

The purpose of these requirements is to safeguard the welfare of children who may otherwise spend considerable lengths of time in hospital, residential school, care home or nursing home and to prevent situations where children may have no one effectively exercising parental responsibility on their behalf.

2. Procedure

Where any health authority or local authority intends to or actually does provide accommodation for a consecutive period of at least three months, the health authority or local authority has to notify the local authority who appear to them to be the ‘responsible authority’ for the child, both when the accommodation starts/is intended to start and when it finishes.

The responsible authority is either the local authority where the child appeared to be ordinarily resident (had his home) before the period of accommodation, or, if it is not obvious where he was ordinarily resident (travellers/no fixed abode and so on), the LA where the accommodation is actually situated.

Once the local authority receives notification as the responsible authority, reasonable steps need to be taken to decide whether the child’s welfare is adequately safeguarded and promoted whilst accommodated in the residential school, as well as considering if there is a need to ‘exercise any functions’ under the Children’s Act 1989.

Where notification is received the facts of the child/young person’s circumstances will be collated and recorded as part of the screening of the contact. Where the child has parents or someone with parental responsibility, who have regular contact with the child and they continue to exercise their parental responsibility in a meaningful way, then no further assessment is required and a referral for Social Care Assessment is not required.

Where the initial screening of the contact identifies that the child has little or no contact with anyone who has parental responsibility, then a referral and initial assessment should be undertaken. This should in particular focus on the child's care and their family situation, including the role played by parents and other significant adults.

If it is evident that there is no one able or willing to exercise parental responsibility for the child, and that their welfare is not being adequately safeguarded and promoted by the accommodating authority or provider, then relevant procedures should be followed including the completion of a Social Care Assessment a Child’s Plan and where necessary LSCB procedures or LAC procedures.

In the case of a child accommodated in a residential care home or nursing home, the Social Care Worker undertaking the assessment has the right to enter that home in order to complete the assessment.

In certain cases it may be necessary to seek specialist help in assessing the child's needs as their circumstances may be such as to have led to a complex diagnosis. Such help should be obtained from someone other than the person or agency providing the accommodation. Further assistance may be obtained from the Hospital Team and/or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Team.