Children, Families and Community Health Travel Assistance Policy and Procedure
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter explains how travel assistance arrangements in Children's, Families and Community Health are agreed and determined within a safeguarding framework.This chapter was updated in March 2023.
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.
Consideration needs to be given to the ability of parents, carers and young people to undertake or pay for travel, 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 Travel Assistance 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, and requests for home to school transport should not be made through the Social Care Travel Assistance route. These are covered in the Swindon Education Transport Policy and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Home to School Transport Policy.
Travel assistance within the Children, Families and Community Health service can be considered in relation to any of the following:
- Contact arrangements where all other options have been explored, including public transport for children in care between the child and any agreed significant other;
- Respite or short breaks arrangements.
3. Assessment of Requirements for SBC Financially Supported Travel Arrangements
In considering whether a request for travel assistance is needed, practitioners and managers should always consider the following issues:
- Whether travel arrangements are part of an agreed plan;
- Whether there is an alternative form of travel, for example:
- Parent, relative or friend;
- Foster carer through using their weekly mileage allowance;
- Social worker/ practitioner or other professional;
- Public transport;
- Walking or cycling.
In considering whether an alternative form of travel is required, the following should be considered:
- Mileage allowance is provided as part of the foster carer contract arrangements, and for those children and young people not in the care system, consideration must be given to parent carers using their Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and/ or Mobility Allowance;
- With regard to Aiming High and Short Breaks, if parents have access to a suitable vehicle, they will not be entitled to any form of assistance;
- 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.
4. Use of Passenger Assistants (PA)
In some circumstances, it may be necessary due to a child's age, vulnerability, behaviour or needs, that a PA will be required. It will be necessary for the Travel Team to assess such a need and be clear about the reason for a PA being necessary. PAs 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 PA function in the first instance.
PAs provided by the Travel Team are only available to undertake work that requires a PA no later than 6pm. For travel requirements beyond 6pm, alternative staff cover will need to be provided by the Children's Social Care team requesting the travel.
5. Process for Requesting Social Care Travel Assistance
If the options outlined in Section 3, Assessment of Requirements for SBC Financially Supported Travel Arrangements are not appropriate, then alternative transport may be considered.
The process for requesting Social Care travel assistance, including a PA, is as follows:
- The worker completes the JADU request form for Social Care travel assistance clearly outlining the justification for the request and outlining what other transport options in Section 3, Assessment of Requirements for SBC Financially Supported Travel Arrangements have been considered;
- The JADU form;
- The Social Worker submits the request to their Team Manager who will then need to authorise the request;
- Children’s Services travel team will process the request unless the request falls outside of the requirements of the service or further work needs to be done to understand the purpose and/ or mode of travel assistance being required.
6. Reviewing Travel Assistance Arrangements
A review of travel assistance 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 Travel Assistance Arrangements
Any cancellations or amendments to travel assistance arrangements should be done by amending or cancelling the original booking on JADU as soon as possible in order to avoid unnecessary costs being incurred and/or wasted journeys being undertaken. Any costs incurred will be charged to the requesting service area.
Complaints by members of the public about travel assistance arrangements should be managed through the SBC formal complaints policy on the SBC website.
Concerns from SBC officers about travel assistance arrangements should be made to their line manager who will then contact the Travel Team Leader in either the North or South Hub as necessary for a discussion.