Help if you are 16 or 17 and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

This information is for you if you are 16 or 17, you can't live at home with your parents or carers and you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

If this is the situation you are in, you may be able to get help from Lancashire County Council Children’s Social care or your local (district) council housing department. The voluntary sector in your area may also be able to help – go to the leaving home page for further information.

What you should do

You should speak to someone you trust and can talk to. This could be:

  • A teacher or tutor
  • A youth worker or support worker – this might be your support worker from the Children and Family and Wellbeing Service
  • A social worker from Children’s Social Care
  • A housing advice worker from your District Council's housing department
  • A homeless prevention or advice service

They should help you look at possible options, such as:

  • Sorting things out and going back home
  • Living with other relatives like a gran or uncle or sister for a while
  • Anywhere else you could go and live
  • How your district council's housing department or Children’s Social Care might be able to help you

Don’t worry about talking to a professional and don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you understand what is happening.

Help from Children’s Social Care or your local (district) council housing department

If you are 16 or 17 and you are homeless, Children’s Social Care must assess your needs and you will be involved in the decision making. 

It does not matter if you go to Children’s Social Care or the district council housing department. If you go to the housing department, they should refer you to Children’s Social Care to be assessed. This will be a "joint assessment" between district housing and Children’s Social Care to find the best options for you. An assessment is a close look at your situation, your needs and what support you may need.

If you are found to be homeless then Children’s Social Care will offer you the opportunity to become looked after. Being looked after, (sometimes called being in care, or being a looked after child) means Children’s Social Care is responsible for looking after you.

If they do not offer you this, you have the right to challenge it. If you decide that you do not want to become looked after then you should still receive support from Children’s Social Care as a child in need and you can still get support from your District Council housing department, which will largely focus on addressing your housing needs.

Being a child in need means you are a child or young person who needs help from Children’s Social Care to make sure that you have a reasonable standard of physical or mental health or development. Children with disabilities are always considered to be children in need.

Family Group Conference

It may be possible for you and your carers to access Family Group Conference support. This is one way of trying to resolve the issues that you and your family are experiencing and can help you to talk to each other. If you would like this, you can ask your social worker or support worker from the Children and Family Wellbeing Service.

If you are uncertain about what is best for you, you can contact an advice service such as Shelter (external link) which offers an online chat service and free helpline, open 365 days a year.

What happens if you become looked after


Children’s Social Care must provide you with accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 if the assessment shows that:

  • You are a child in need
  • You need somewhere to live because there are no adults who can provide you with safe accommodation

Children’s Social Care will find a place for you in semi-independent accommodation, residential accommodation, supported housing or in foster care. The type of accommodation you will be given will depend on your age and your needs, including access to your support networks and family where appropriate.

Other help

If you become looked after, Children’s Social Care must not just give you somewhere to live; they will look after you in other ways too. This will include things like keeping you safe and helping you do as well as you can, looking at your education, health, financial support, contact with your family and friends (if you want that) and any other needs that you have.

You have the right to take some time to think about being a looked after child and can talk this through with someone you trust to help explain things. If you need additional support and would like an advocate, please ask your social worker or Children and Family Support Worker.

An advocate will meet with you and focus on what the problems are and what you would like to happen. They will inform you of your rights and make sure your voice is heard. Your advocate may also help you to make a complaint if things have not been sorted out and you feel this is something that you wish to do.


Contact Lancashire Children's Social Care on 0300 123 6720 (or out of hours call 0300 123 6722 8pm-8am Monday to Friday and any time during weekends and bank holidays).

More information and advice

You can find further advice on the leaving home page.