Sunday, November 27, 2022

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Family Court Judge Praises Airbnb Teen After He Got Into Council’s Custody

A family court judge has praised the “strength of character” of a “vulnerable” teenager who lived in an Airbnb under constant supervision for nearly eight months after being placed in the care of the council.

Judge Joanna Vincent was told how the boy, who is now 15 and in the care of Oxfordshire County Council, had lived in four different “lodgings” in around two and a half years.

The judge said one placement ended “very abruptly” and the boy, who had “complex emotional and behavioral needs,” had “no idea” where he was going next.

She said he had to leave his hamster, laptop and bike behind – and hadn’t gotten them back “for many months”.

Judge Vincent said the boy was vulnerable and deserved “a lot better care”.

She said he is “happy” in his current position.

The judge has set out details of the case in a written judgment released online after private hearings at an Oxford family court, and said the teenager could not be identified in media reports of the case.

She said she didn’t think social services workers could “work harder” to improve the boy’s “situation.”

The judge said the staff “worked tirelessly” to find “regulated accommodation” that met his needs

But she said that couldn’t bring “much comfort” to the boy.

Judge Vincent outlined details of his movements between three placements, saying the boy hadn’t “fully settled” in any of them.

She said one placement ended “very abruptly” because staff felt they couldn’t protect the boy.

“[The boy]had no idea where he was going to be housed next,” she said.

“Many of his belongings were left behind including his hamster, laptop and bike.

“Despite repeated requests, it took many months before they were returned.”

She said the council placed the boy in an Airbnb in the community earlier this year — assisted by agency staff.

“In order to prevent (him) from harming himself, severe restrictions were put in place.

“He was under adult supervision at all times and could not go out on his own.

“Use of his phone and access to cash was monitored and sometimes restricted.”

She said the council had asked for court orders that would authorize staff to “interfere” with the boy’s human right to liberty if they deemed it necessary to ensure his well-being.

“[The boy]told me that although adults were always with him, they didn’t care about him,” the judge said.

“He had to buy and cook all his own meals while the staff looked on.

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