Children, Families and Community Health Transport Policy and Procedure
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter explains how transport arrangements in Children's, Families and Community Health are agreed and determined within a safeguarding framework.
This chapter was added in February 2016.
There is a general principle within child law, regulations and guidance from the Government that local authorities will provide appropriate support and services to parents, carers or any other significant individual in order to meet the best interests of a child or young person. This principle is in relation to all stages of a child's involvement within Children, Families and Community Health services. This includes children in need, children subject to a child protection plan, children in care and care leavers.
Transport constitutes a service and therefore in certain circumstances, Swindon Borough Council may financially reimburse a parent, carer or child in respect of travelling, subsistence or other expenses incurred by that person where it is deemed necessary.
Consideration needs to be given to the ability of parents, carers and young people to undertake or pay for transportation whilst assessing their willingness to make their own arrangements or appropriate contributions, for example in attending locations for an assessment, appointments and plans, that will test their commitment to bringing about sustained changes and identified outcomes.
2. Circumstances where Transport may be Required
This policy covers transport within the Children, Families and Community Health service. It does not cover the specific arrangements that are in place in relation to education transport. These are covered in the Swindon Education Transport Policy:
Separate arrangement also apply for the Youth Offending Team and Youth Justice Board assisted visits.
Transport costs within the Children, Families and Community Health service can be considered in relation to any of the following:
- Attendance at meetings, including at Court;
- Contact arrangements for children in care between the child and any agreed significant other;
- Supporting transition or placement arrangements;
- Respite or short breaks arrangements;
- Health appointments;
- Other trips, for example in relation to leisure or hobbies.
3. Assessment of Requirement for SBC Financially Supported Transport
In considering whether a request for transport is needed, practitioners and managers should always consider the following issues:
- Whether the transport is part of an agreed plan;
- Whether there is an alternative form of transport, for example:
- Parent, relative or friend;
- Foster carer;
- Social worker/ practitioner or other professional;
- Public transport;
- Walking or cycling.
In considering whether an alternative form of transport is required, the following should be considered:
- For parents, relatives or friends, parental mileage assistance may be considered or public transport if they do not have access to a suitable vehicle. If parents, relatives or friends do not accept parental mileage assistance if offered, then they would need to fund any alternative provision. Public transport options to be offered include providing a bus pass or coach/train tickets for out of borough transport requirements. With regard to Aiming High, if parents have access to a suitable vehicle and are able to transport their child, parental mileage assistance will not normally be given unless there are exceptional circumstances;
- Foster carers receive in their weekly allowances monies to cover all normal local travel costs for transporting any individual child to school, contact visits and appointments.
If the above options are not feasible, then alternative transport may be considered. It should be noted that taxis should only be considered as a last resort.
NB: In considering options, it should be noted that the safety of the child should never be compromised when agreeing transport arrangements.
4. Use of Escorts
In some circumstances, it may be necessary due to a child's age, vulnerability, behaviour or needs, that an escort will be required. It will be necessary to assess such a need and be clear about the reason for an escort being necessary. Escorts will only be provided if there is a defined need for care or supervision that cannot be met in another way.
Consideration must be given to parents, carers or another significant other undertaking the escort function in the first instance so that children are being transported in as normal a way as possible.
Escort staff provided by the Passenger Transport Team are only available to undertake work that requires an escort up to the early evening. For transport requirements beyond this time alternative staff cover will need to be provided by the Children's Social Care team requesting the transport.
5. Process for Requesting Ad Hoc or Emergency Transport
If the options outlined in Section 3, Assessment of Requirements for SBC Financially Supported Transport above are not appropriate, then alternative transport may be considered.
The process for requesting ad hoc or emergency transport, including an escort, is as follows:
- The worker completes the request for ad hoc/emergency transport (See Appendix A: Request for Ad Hoc/ Emergency Transport) clearly outlining the justification for the request and outlining what other transport options in Section 3, Assessment of Requirements for SBC Financially Supported Transport above have been considered;
- The worker forwards the request to their team manager, assistant team manager or locality operational manager to countersign the request;
- The team manager, assistant team manager or locality operational manager countersigns the request and returns it to the worker;
- The worker sends the completed, countersigned form to the ad hoc transport mailbox (e-mail) of the Passenger Transport team (email@example.com);
- The Passenger Transport team processes the request, sending an acknowledgement email to the requestor once the transport has been arranged and booked.
6. Reviewing Transport Arrangements
A review of transport arrangements should be initiated when:
- An issue is raised with the child's care which impacts upon transport;
- The child's care package changes, e.g. respite, change of foster parent;
- A social worker or other professional conducts a review of the child's care.
7. Cancellation of and Amendments to Transport Arrangements
Cancellations or amendments to transport arrangements should be advised to the Passenger Transport team as soon as possible in order to avoid unnecessary costs being incurred and/or wasted journeys being undertaken.
Any changes should be advised by contacting the Passenger Transport team (firstname.lastname@example.org). Minor changes (for example, a slight change of time) can be dealt with by telephone or email.
Complaints about the transport provided should be directed in the first instance to the Passenger Transport team (email@example.com).