Homeless 16 and 17-year-olds

Thousands of homeless 16-and-17-year-old children are being denied their right to be taken into care.

In our legal and advocacy work, we support children who are homeless because they have suffered domestic abuse, violence or neglect and desperately need the state to act as their parent and look after them by providing a caring home.

Legal guidance and case law states that in the vast majority of cases these homeless 16-and 17-year-olds should be taken into care by the local authority and housed under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, which entitles them to support as a care leaver up to the age of 25. However, these children are wrongly housed under different legislation - provisions intended for adults and not vulnerable children - which gives them fewer longer-term rights and financial stability.

Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Louise King, spoke to BBC's Newsnight about the thousands of vulnerable homeless 16-and 17-year olds who are being housed with adults in unsafe accommodation without the care and support they are entitled to. Watch the feature below and see more here.


What needs to change

We are calling for all homeless children to be housed under Section 20 of the Children Act as a default position, unless they have explicitly said they do not want to be after being made fully aware of their rights and entitlements. Homeless 16-and 17-year-olds should always have access to an independent advocate to make them aware of their rights and entitlements and support them to make decisions about the type of support they receive from the local authority.