11.1 Wirral Protocol in Relation to Children with a Child Protection Plan Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries
This guidance should be applied with regard to the following:
- The child’s welfare and safety is paramount;
- Promoting and creating positive communication and information sharing within the LSCB area, and between LSCB Areas in respect of children subject to Child Protection Plans;
- Promoting effective child protection case transfers to avoid drift and delay for the child and their parents/carers and to ensure children are safeguarded;
- Ensuring services in the LSCB area are identified and offered in a timely manner to children suffering or at risk of suffering Significant Harm who move into another area LSCB Area;
- Child Protection Planning is robust, timely and takes account of all available information.
2.1 Transfer of Child Protection Plans – Responsibilities of the area Receiving the Request
All requests for a transfer-in conference should be received and responded to by the duty Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) on the day of receipt. Where they are not available the request should be passed to the Manager for their attention and action. Where a request is made by telephone, the IRO should request that this is put in writing and either securely emailed or posted to the IRO.
It is the responsibility of the LSCB Area requesting the transfer-in to ensure the written follow-up is made in a timely manner. The 15 day timescale for convening the conference will commence upon receipt of the written information.
Following a request for a transfer-in conference, the IRO will collate relevant information. As a minimum this will include:
- Full details of the child – name, DOB, current address and planned address gender, ethnicity;
- Details of any siblings – names, DOB, current address and planned address, gender, ethnicity;
- Details of Parents and/or carers – names, DOB, current address and planned address, gender, ethnicity;
- Background information relating to the case:
- Reason for the Child Protection Plan;
- Category of abuse;
- Length of time the child has been the subject of a Plan;
- Overview of the historical involvement with the child and their family, including any history of previous sibling Adoptions or Looked After;
- Assessment and intervention work undertaken;
- The organisations contributing to the Plan;
- The planned outcomes for the child.
- Request the responsible LSCB Area to forward copies of the Assessment, Child Protection Plan, minutes of the Initial Child Protection Conference, the most recent Review Child Protection Conference and any other relevant assessments or information, including the Section 47 Child Protection Enquiry.
The IRO will then:
- Establish if their area holds any historical information in relation to the child, their siblings, their parents or carers and record the information on the relevant format in the child’s electronic record;
- Liaise with the Safeguarding QA Unit to request that information is shared to enable all relevant systems in Children’s Services and in partner agencies are updated to include details of the child and their status;
- Notify the relevant social worker manager where the child is to be resident of the intention to convene a transfer-in conference and provide the background information to the case; sharing with the Social Work Team Manager contact details for the responsible authority;
- Request the Safeguarding QA Unit convene the transfer-in conference within 15 working days of written notification of the permanent address;
- Consider including in the recommendations following the Initial Case Conference the need to undertake an Assessment in their own area.
NB – the Social Work Team Manager should always give consideration to the need to read the case records held in the Responsible Local Authority area.
Any historical records relating to the child or their family in their own area should ALWAYS be accessed and read by the allocated worker.
Where the child and their family are moving to the LSCB Area and the planned address is temporary, i.e. a refuge supported housing provision such as a mother and baby unit or other temporary accommodation; the IRO will collate the information as outlined above. The information should then be passed to their Manager.
The Manager will be responsible for liaising with the Responsible Authority on at least a monthly basis to monitor the progress of the case and continue to confirm plans to secure permanent accommodation in their area; where a permanent address has been secured the transfer-in conference should be convened within 15 working days of written notification of the permanent address by the Manager, in line with the requirements above.
If after a period of three months the child and their family continue to live in temporary accommodation, a transfer-in conference should be arranged. This will be the responsibility of the Manager, in line with the requirements outlined previously.
Responsibility for the Child Protection Plan during the period in temporary accommodation will remain with the responsible authority.
At the transfer-in Child Protection Conference the IRO will ensure any gaps in information or the assessment are identified and action taken to address this, this includes the allocated worker completing an Assessment. Action and recommendations should be monitored at future Review Child Protection Conferences until fully completed.
Where an Assessment is not completed in time for the first Review Child Protection Conference, then the IRO should ensure this is recorded in the minutes along with a recommendation for completion in 10 working days from the date of the conference. The IRO should also ensure the relevant Social Work Team Manager and the relevant Senior Manager is notified.
2.2 Transfer of Child Protection Plans – Responsibilities of the area Making the Request
It is the responsibility of the Social Worker, or in their absence their manager, to notify the IRO or their Team Manager when a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan is intending to move or has already moved out of the their area, whether this is to a permanent or temporary address.
The notification should be made as soon as possible and no later than one working day of the information coming to the attention of the Social Worker or their manager.
The IRO or Team Manager should establish the following:
- The address to which the child has moved and confirm whether or not this is temporary accommodation;
- The names of all adults who have moved with the child and any adults with whom the child will be living in the receiving LSCB area;
- The reason for the move;
- The arrangements made by the social worker/their Team Manager to safeguard the child in the receiving area.
The IRO or their Team Manager will liaise by telephone with their equivalent in the area where the child has moved, providing the required information and requesting a transfer-in conference.
This will be followed up in writing. As a minimum the following information will be sent recorded delivery or by secure email to the receiving area:
- Full details of the child – name, DOB, current address and planned address in the receiving Local Authority area, gender, ethnicity;
- Details of any siblings – names, DOB, current address and planned address in the receiving Local Authority area, gender, ethnicity;
- Details of Parents and/or carers – names, DOB, current address and planned address in the receiving Local Authority area, gender, ethnicity;
- Full details of the allocated Social Worker – their name, work address, telephone number and email address;
- Background information relating to the case – reason for the Child Protection Plan, category of abuse, length of time the child has been the subject of a plan, assessment and intervention work undertaken, the organisations involved and the planned outcomes for the child;
- Copies of the Assessment, Child Protection Plan, minutes of the Initial Child Protection Conference, the most recent Review Child Protection Conference and any other relevant assessments or information.
NB – all documents that are sent to other local authority areas should be sent recorded delivery or by secure email, with a request that the receiving area acknowledge safe receipt; where confirmation is not received within 5 working days, the sender should follow this up.
Business support will notify relevant organisations in the area that the child has moved out of the area and the forwarding address. It is the responsibility of the IRO or Team Manager to ensure all information is sent and notifications are made in a timely manner.
When a date for the transfer-in conference in the receiving area has been set the allocated social worker from the responsible area should make every effort to attend the ‘transfer-in’ conference, where this is possible and practical.
The child’s plan should not be discontinued in the responsible area until written confirmation has been given by the receiving area that the transfer-in conference has been held and a decision made. On receipt of this notification business support should:
- Confirm this in writing to all relevant organisations and individuals in the area;
- Update ICS and discontinue the plan, recording the end date as the date the receiving area held the transfer-in conference and the decision was made.
Where the receiving authority fails to make a recommendation at the transfer-in conference or defers that decision, the matter should immediately be brought to the attention of the IRO Team Manager for swift resolution. The Child Protection Plan in the responsible area should not be discontinued, and case responsibility will remain with this area, including statutory visits to the child until the matter is resolved.
2.3 Welfare Checks when Children are Subject to Temporary Child Protection Plans
It is not uncommon for Children’s Social Care to be requested to undertake welfare visits for children subject to Child Protection Plans on behalf of other Local Authorities before a transfer-in conference has been convened. This guidance relates to how such requests should be responded to in respect of children from outside Wirral.
In such circumstances the originating authority may be some distance away, to the extent that home visits and other tasks cannot be effectively accomplished by a social worker from the originating authority. In such cases, the receiving authority must agree to implement the Child Protection Plan on behalf of the originating authority. The agreement must be confirmed in writing at LA Children’s Social Care first line manager or above. The receiving authority is responsible in law for making enquiries and taking action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.
The receiving authority would be required to communicate with the originating authority before implementing any change in respect of the Child Protection Plan except when emergency action is required to safeguard the child.
The receiving LA’s statutory visit form should be used to record the visit and emailed to the originating authority for their information and to meet their statutory responsibilities.
A welfare visit should include consideration of the following aspects of the child’s welfare:
- Name of social worker undertaking the visit, date of visit, visit undertaken on behalf of which LA, details of child;
- Changes in circumstances if any, since previous visit and why;
- Child’s legal status and start date;
- Type of placement (including respite and private fostering), current placement start date, carer’s details;
- Start date and current category/categories for Child Protection Plan in originating authority;
- Child’s health needs;
- Educational needs (attendance, punctuality, support received from school and carer);
- Child’s emotional and behavioural development;
- Child’s physical presentation and stimulation, including activities child involved in or would like to develop;
- Disability/special needs or issues impacting on child’s care and daily life;
- Home conditions, including child’s sleeping arrangements;
- Child’s relationships with caregiver/other children in placement;
- Child seen and seen alone, if not why not;
- Child’s wishes and feelings;
- Care giver’s views of child, including interactions observed, and their commitment to child;
- Any issues arising from other professionals, family members, child or caregiver?
- Contact arrangements (frequency, with whom, quality);
- Strengths of placement noted;
- Progress of Child Protection Plan in respect of each element of the Child Protection Plan recommendations, and any new recommendations proposed;
- If the Child Protection Plan is not progressing, state why from child’s, care giver, professionals views and any steps needed to promote progress;
- Recommendations re Child Protection Plan, including any emergency action to safeguard child;
- Frequency of visiting as agreed with the responsible LA;
- Any issues significant to the Chronology;
- Confirm next statutory visit date;
- Team Manager’s comments.
2.4 Resolving Cross Boundary Differences
There may be occasions where difficulties arise in the transfer of cases between areas. It is essential that any difficulties are addressed and resolved as swiftly as possible by the Safeguarding QA Service Manager.
In the first instance the matter should be addressed by telephone discussion between the Team Manager and their equivalent in the other area. It is anticipated that most matters will be resolved at this stage. This should be done within 2 working days of an issue with the transfer being raised.
Where the matter remains unresolved following this telephone contact, the Safeguarding QA Service Manager should discuss the case with the relevant Senior Manager. It may then be appropriate for them to contact their equivalent in the 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 Specialist Services. It will be their responsibility to liaise with their equivalent in the area and reach ultimate agreement and a clear plan. It is anticipated that relatively few cases should reach this stage.