Council to seek help to cope with Norfolk homeless teenagers

A �120,000 pilot scheme in Norfolk is set to see the council bring in a partner to run social work schemes for young people, with council bosses saying it will free up under pressure front-line workers.

Norfolk County Council successfully bid for the government cash to support a social work pilot scheme and this week the controlling Conservative cabinet agreed to target the funding at homeless 16 and 17-year-olds.

The project will see a partner from the private, voluntary or community sector take on social work responsibilities and activities for homeless young people, helping to cut some of the strain on the council's own social workers.

The county council has been experiencing an increase in the number of teenagers coming into care over the last year, partly because of a ruling in 2009 which meant teenagers who became homeless needed to be treated as looked after children.

County Hall says the pilot scheme would involve a thorough tendering process, with any successful bidder needing to prove they understood and could meet the needs of the young people.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'This funding is extremely welcome at a time when our front line social workers have seen an increase in the number of children and families needing their support.

'It will help to reduce some of the strain on our frontline staff, who do an incredibly demanding job, and mean we can concentrate our resources on other vulnerable groups of children and young people.

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'To qualify for this funding, we have to look to a third party to take on this work on our behalf and would of course carry out a robust process to make sure we selected an organisation with the expertise and knowledge to deliver a good service.

'These young people are particularly vulnerable and we would closely monitor the work to ensure it meets the quality we expect.'

The work will begin in September next year and initially last for three years. The council says the government funding will cover the set up and procurement costs, while the running costs will be met from the council's corporate parenting budget.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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