Section 17(1) of the Children Act 1989 states that it shall be the general duty of every local authority (in addition to the other duties imposed on them by this Part) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs.
Section 17(10) defines a child in need as a child whose well being or development is likely to be impaired if they are not provided with assistance.
Section 17(3) states that any service provided by the authority in the exercise of functions conferred on them by this section may be provided for the family for a particular child in need or for any member of his family, if it is provided with a view to safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.
Section 17(6) states that the services provided by a local authority in the exercise of functions conferred on them by this section may include providing accommodation and giving assistance in kind or, in exceptional circumstances, in cash.
Section 20(1) states that every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of (c) the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care.
Section 20(6) states that before providing accommodation under this section, a local authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the child’s welfare (a) ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings regarding the provision of accommodation, and (b) give due consideration (having regard to his age and understanding) to such wishes and feelings of the child as they have been able to ascertain.
Other sections of the Act deal with the nature of the assistance that should be provided.
Paragraph 1(1) in Schedule 2 to the Act states that every local authority shall take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are children in need in their area.
Paragraph 3 of the Schedule starts by stating that where it appears to a local authority that a child within their area is in need, the authority may assess his needs for the purposes of the Act.
Section 213A of the Housing Act 1996 places a duty upon a local housing authority to obtain consent to refer a case to the children’s services department where there are children involved in a homelessness application.