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5.5 Notification and Transfer of Children Subject to Child Protection Plans across Swindon Borough Council Boundaries Procedure

RELATED CHAPTER

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Swindon Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Children and Families Moving across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.

This chapter was added to the manual in August 2017.


Contents

  Introduction
1. Purpose
2. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm (Swindon LSCB Procedure)
3. Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan from another Local Authority Area (Transfer In)
4. Child Protection Plans where the Family is in Temporary Accommodation
5. Once Permanent Residence has been Established
6. Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan in Swindon to another Local Authority Area (Transfer Out)


Introduction

In recognition that children often move across local authority boundaries and Local Case Review Child A it is important that due consideration is given to the factors identified below.

Children and young people, especially those assessed to be in need or at risk, are likely to be even more vulnerable as a consequence of moving between local authority areas/homelessness and the dislocation that is likely to occur as a result of moving between local authority areas. Relationships with relatives, friends, schools and statutory services are likely to be fractured as a result of such moves; alternatively those seeking to avoid the intrusion of statutory services may want to sever the relationships with those that have begun to understand them.

Families move for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reasons or circumstances of families moving between local authority areas, the Children Act 1989 is clear about where the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of such children lies (Section 17 and Section 47): it is with the local authority responsible for the area in which the child is to be i.e. where they are at the time that a concern may arise, which will normally be where they are living.

However, if a family moves whilst subject to child protection enquiries under Section 47 CA 1989 or an assessment of need under S17 CA 89 those assessments should ordinarily be concluded before transfer of case responsibility takes place.

However where a family has only been resident in the originating authority for a brief time, then the respective authorities should consider who is best placed to undertake the assessment. This is especially important for those families who have moved frequently between authorities thereby preventing any authority or professional network from getting to know them.


1. Purpose

This procedure aims to:

  1. Promote the safe and efficient transfer of children subject of Child Protection Plans in and out of the Swindon area;
  2. Promote consistent action and responses to the transfer of cases where children are subject to a Child Protection Plan to and from Swindon Borough Council.

Principles

This procedure should be applied with regard to the following principles:

  1. The child’s welfare and safety is paramount;
  2. Promoting and creating positive communication and information sharing between referring and receiving Local Authority Areas in respect of children subject of Child Protection Plans;
  3. Promoting effective Child Protection Plan case transfers to avoid drift and delay for the child and their parents/carers and to ensure children are safeguarded;
  4. Ensuring services in the local area are identified and offered in a timely manner to children suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm who move across Local Authority boundaries;
  5. Child Protection Planning is robust and timely and takes account of all available information.


2. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm (Swindon LSCB Procedure)

Work with children and their families may be taking place in the context of a Section 47 Enquiry which may be in progress when the child/children and family moves to another local authority area.

Each agency has internal procedures which set out how information about children and families is provided to another local authority/health trust/education service/police force area when such movements take place.

A decision must be made by the responsible professionals (in partnership with parents and children whenever possible and particularly where the move is known and planned) as to how the information is best shared with the new area.

However, in all cases, information should be shared immediately as all information about a child should be held where the child is residing.

Where a child moves across local authority boundaries, and a Section 47 Enquiry is being considered or is in progress and/or a Child Protection Conference (see Swindon Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Child Protection Conferences Procedure) is proposed but has not yet taken place, it is the responsibility of the local authority where the concerns originated to make decisions as to how to proceed.

It is normally advisable that assessments or particular pieces of work are concluded before transfer of case responsibility takes place.

In these circumstances, therefore, the originating authority must continue with the Section 47 Enquiry and should convene a Strategy Discussion/Meeting - this will usually take place within 72 hours of notification of the child's move. However, the timescales may be different depending on the individual circumstances e.g. the geographical proximity of the two areas and/or the gravity of the situation. In all circumstances, however, the Strategy Discussion/Meeting will always involve representatives of both the originating and the receiving authority and their respective roles and responsibilities will be agreed. The Strategy Discussion/Meeting should consider how the timescales for the completion of the Section 47 Enquiry and holding of the Child Protection Conference (if appropriate) will be met. In any case, the social worker from the originating authority will attend and provide a report for the Child Protection Conference.

Where there are any professional disagreements about any of the planned actions, these should be referred to the relevant senior managers in the two authorities for their agreement. Any such agreement must be in writing and circulated to all the professionals involved. If the professional differences remain unresolved, please refer to the Swindon Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Escalation Policy.

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is in progress, as soon as the originating authority becomes aware of the child's move to a new area, the following action should be taken:

The child's social worker will:

  • Notify Children's social care in the receiving authority of the change in the child's circumstances within one working day of discovering the move;
  • Send the child's relevant personal details to Children's social care in the receiving authority;
  • Inform his or her line manager of the change;
  • Inform any other agencies working with the family of the change in circumstances and ask them to inform their colleagues in the new area;
  • Attend any handover meetings in the receiving authority.

The social worker's line manager will:

  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the child's electronic record;
  • Inform the relevant team manager in the receiving authority of the current details and forward any relevant documentation such as copies of the most recent Child in Need Plan and/or a summary of the assessment so far;
  • Agree any need for urgent action and, if urgent action is required, agree which local authority will take such action;
  • Agree the convening of a Strategy Discussion/ Meeting within 72 hours;
  • Discuss with the relevant team manager in the receiving authority at what stage responsibility for the child should be transferred.

Particular care and attention must be paid where the family has a history of moving between areas and the timing of their moves appears to suggest that they are seeking to avoid the child protection process.

If children and families about whom there are concerns move and cannot be contacted, this in itself will heighten such concerns and lead professionals to consider that the children may have suffered, or are likely to suffer, Significant Harm.

In such circumstances the agencies involved must share information with one another so that every effort is made to locate the child/children. The responsibility for the family will remain with the local authority for the area of the child's last known address.


3. Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan from another Local Authority Area (Transfer In)

Children who are subject to Child Protection Plans who move into Swindon permanently must have a transfer-in Conference within 15 working days of written notification being received.

Notification of children subject to Child Protection Plans moving into Swindon Borough Council area must be forwarded to the MASH on the day the information is received.

On the same day the FCP/MASH will contact the referring Authority and request that information is given in writing and determine the permanence of the move.

The referring Authority will be asked for the following:

  • What action is required from Swindon Borough Council;
  • How visiting is being managed in the interim until a transfer-in conference is held;
  • Written information including all previous CPC minutes;
  • An up-to-date chronology and a current protection plan including planned outcomes for the child;
  • Contact details for all family members and professionals;
  • All other relevant reports. Assessment and intervention work undertaken, specifically including risk of and/or specialist multi-agency intervention pertaining to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) or children missing from home, care or education;
  • Overview of the historical involvement with the child and their family, including any history of previous sibling adoptions, permanent removals or previous periods of being a Looked After Child;
  • Any current Public Law Outline processes in place and if so then a Senior Manager needs to be involved in the decision to accept case responsibility.

It is the responsibility of the referring Local Authority to ensure the written follow- up is made in a timely manner. The 15 day timescale for convening the transfer- in conference will commence upon receipt of the written information.

The FCP/MASH will place the child(ren)'s names on Capita One and notify the Quality Assurance Team to add the CP flag and place the child(ren) on the Temporary List of children subject to Child Protection Plans

The FCP/MASH will refer the situation to the relevant locality social work team who will establish that the criteria for transfer is met and arrange a CP Conference.

Until a transfer-in conference is held the referring Authority retains case responsibility and if the Authority require any action i.e. visit to the children this should be requested in writing.

Records of any involvement with the child/family should be recorded on the child’s file on Capita One and a copy of the information shared with case holding Authority.


4. Child Protection Plans where the Family is in Temporary Accommodation

Where the child and their family are moving into the Swindon area and the planned address is temporary, e.g. a refuge, supported housing provision or other temporary accommodation, however long or short, case responsibility for the Child Protection Plan will remain with the referring Local Authority. The child(ren) will remain on the List of Children Subject to Child Protection Plans in the permanent home area until a transfer –in conference is held or the Child protection Plan is discontinued.

The allocated social worker in the referring Authority must contact the MASH and provide relevant personal details including contact details for all involved professionals and the last Child Protection minutes and Plan. This information should be in writing. MASH should record this information on Capita One and add to the temporary list of children Subject to Child Protection Plans.

If a permanent address is secured in the Swindon area evidence of this will need to be provided by the allocated social worker from the referring authority in order for a transfer-in conference to be convened within 15 working days of written notification of the permanent address. This will be in line with the requirements above at Section 3, Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan from another Local Authority Area (Transfer In).


5. Once Permanent Residence has been Established

See also Section 3, Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan from another Local Authority Area (Transfer In) and Section 4, Child Protection Plans where the Family is in Temporary Accommodation.

The social worker from the referring authority should complete the Child Protection Conference invite list within 24 hours of the written notification to Swindon. They should also complete the social work report and invite list for the Conference and having shared with the family this should be forwarded to the Child Protection Chair and Swindon Team Manager within 3 days of the Conference.

If prior to the Conference the Team Manager has not received the information in Section 3, Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan from another Local Authority Area (Transfer In) then this should be escalated with the referring Authority with a view to not proceeding with the Conference until this information is received.

There is an expectation that the allocated social worker /manager in the transferring authority must attend the Transfer-in Conference.

Once Swindon have accepted case responsibility for the Child Protection Plan then the Social worker/ Team Manager should always give consideration to the need to read the case records held in the referring Local Authority. Any significant historical records relating to the child or their family in the referring Local Authority should always be accessed and read by the allocated worker.


6. Movement of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan in Swindon to another Local Authority Area (Transfer Out)

It is the responsibility of the allocated Social Worker in Swindon, or in their absence their manager, to notify the MASH /Referral and Assessment Team in the other local Authority when a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan is intending to move or has already moved out of the area. This is whether this is to a permanent or temporary address. The allocated Social worker is also responsible for notifying the Swindon Quality Assurance team regarding the child(ren)'s move.

The notification should be made within one working day from the information coming to the attention of the social worker or their manager. And should include ensuring that enquiries are made to ensure that protective action is taken to safeguard the child until a Transfer-in Conference takes place in the new area.

The social worker/ team manager should provide the following written information to the MASH/Referral and Assessment Team:

  • What action is required from the authority that the child(ren) have moved to;
  • How visiting is being managed in the interim until a transfer-in conference is held;
  • Written information including all previous CPC minutes;
  • An up-to-date chronology and a current protection plan including planned outcomes for the child;
  • Contact details for all family members and professionals;
  • All other relevant reports. Assessment and intervention work undertaken, specifically including risk of and/or specialist multi-agency intervention pertaining to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) or children missing from home, care or education;
  • Overview of the historical involvement with the child and their family, including any history of previous sibling adoptions, permanent removals or previous periods of being a Looked After Child;
  • Any current Public Law Outline processes in place.

This should always be recorded on the child’s file including what information has been sent.

The allocated social worker in Swindon will immediately advise the members of the Core Group of the change in circumstances so that they can liaise with their equivalent professional in the local area.

The social worker should ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the child’s electronic file and on the List of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan.

If Swindon remove a child from a Child Protection Plan prior to a permanent address being confirmed then the allocated social worker should advise the Authority in the local area to enable them to remove the child from their list of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan.

All documents that are sent to other Local Authority areas should be sent securely, with a request that the receiving Local Authority acknowledge safe receipt; where confirmation is not received within 5 working days, the sender should follow this up. These actions should always be recorded on the child’s file. It is the responsibility of the social worker in Swindon to ensure that the transfer out process is effective, timely and safe

The social worker will notify relevant local partner agencies that the child has moved out of the area and the forwarding address. It is the responsibility of the allocated social worker/manager to ensure all information is sent and notifications are made in a timely manner.

Once Permanent Residence has been Established

When a date for the transfer-in conference in the receiving Local Authority has been set the allocated social worker or social work representative in Swindon must complete the Child Protection Conference invite list within 24 hours of the written notification to Authority in the local area.

They should also complete the social work report for the Conference and having shared with the family this should be forwarded to the local area Child Protection Chair and Team Manager within 3 days of the Conference.

The social worker/manager must also attend the ‘transfer-in’ conference in the local area.

The Child Protection Plan should not be discontinued until written confirmation has been given by the receiving Local Authority that the transfer-in conference has been held and a decision made whether the child remains subject of a Child Protection Plan.

On receipt of this notification the Swindon Quality Assurance Business Coordinator should:

  1. Confirm the decision of the transfer in case conference in writing to all professionals who were on the invite list for the last Child Protection Conference held in Swindon;
  2. Update Capita One and discontinue the plan, recording the end date as the date the receiving Local Authority held the transfer-in conference and the decision was made.

If prior to permanent residence being confirmed the child is removed from a Child Protection Plan then the allocated social worker should advise the local authority where the child is living to request that the child is removed from their Temporary list of children subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Action to be taken in cases where there is dispute or delay in case transfer

There may be occasions where difficulties arise in the transfer of cases between Local Authority areas. It is essential that any difficulties are addressed and resolved as swiftly as possible by the Social work Team Manager and their equivalent. In the first instance the matter should be addressed by a telephone discussion between the Team Manager in the referring and receiving Local Authority area. It is anticipated that most matters will be resolved at this stage. The Child Protection Chair should also be notified so that they can monitor the situation and ensure that no Conference is cancelled and that timescales for Conferences are met.

Where the matter remains unresolved following this telephone contact, after five working days the Team Manager should discuss the case with their Service Manager. It may then be appropriate for the Service Manager to contact their equivalent in the receiving Local Authority area, either in writing or by telephone (or both) in order to ensure the matter remains live and is resolved at the earliest opportunity.

Progress should be reviewed on a weekly basis to minimise the risk of drift or further delay.

Finally where difficulties continue to persist in the transfer, the matter should be referred to the Head of Service It will be their responsibility to liaise with their equivalent in the Local Authority area and reach ultimate agreement and a clear plan. It is anticipated that few cases should reach this stage.

End