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3.10 Children Moving Across Boundaries

Contents

  1. Movement of Children and Families
  2. Children who are being assessed
  3. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm
  4. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan
  5. Children who are not Subject to a Child Protection Plan


1. Movement of Children and Families

This chapter sets out the actions to be taken in relation to children and families who move across local authority boundaries, either on a temporary or permanent basis, where there is contact with the family by the statutory agencies, and some degree of concern for the child. The transfer of responsibility between areas can be a time of heightened risk for children.

At any stage in the process of working with children and their families, the parents and/or the child/children may move from one household to another, with a change of address possibly to another local authority area.

The move may be planned and relevant information shared in advance with the professionals and workers involved with the family and child/children.

In some circumstances, however, the move may take place in haste and as an attempt to avoid the involvement of professionals and agencies. In such circumstances, the agencies involved must assess the impact of the change in circumstances on the child/children.

Every effort must be made to ensure that the information to safeguard the child is held where the child is.

The child’s move may be temporary or permanent. An example of a temporary move is where a Looked After child is placed in the area of a different local authority. All such placements will be notified by the local authority looking after the child to the relevant health and education agencies in accordance with their own internal procedures and all changes of addresses must be carefully noted when such notifications are received – see also Children Living Away From Home (Including Foster Care and Private Fostering) Procedure


2. Children who are being assessed

Work with Children and their families may be taking place in the context of the Common Assessment Framework, or the child may be considered a Child in Need and a Child and Family Assessment/Child Protection Assessment may be in progress when the child/children and family moves to another local authority area.

Each agency should have 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) where the move is known and planned as to how the information is best shared with the new area.

There should never be any delay in sharing information (see Information Sharing Protocol) as all information about a child should be held where the child is residing.

The quality of information shared is crucial. The basis for assessed risk and unassessed concerns must be clearly set out. The point of transfer is a point of heightened risk not least because of the increased possibility of misunderstanding. Assumptions that local terms and jargon will be understood by professionals from other areas must not be made.

Where there are concerns about a Child in Need who moves across local across boundaries, and a Child Protection Assessment is being considered or is in progress, it is the responsibility of the local authority where the concerns originated to make decisions as to how to proceed. This, however, must be done in close consultation with the new authority. 

If it is agreed by the new authority that the case can be handed over to them, then a transfer of the case can take place. The agreement must be confirmed in writing promptly.

Professionals in the new area should not lose time by repeating assessments already carried out. If professionals with prior knowledge of the family express serious concerns they should be taken seriously and not discounted pending reassessment.

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 be 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 and, where Children, Education and Families are not already involved, consider whether a referral should be made under the Referrals (including Referrals Pathway) Procedure

Where the child is already referred to Children, Education and Families and the child cannot be located, the Children Missing from Home Procedure should be followed.


3. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm

Where emergency action is required because of concerns that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the local authority in whose area the child is found is responsible for taking that action. 

Where the child is Looked After by or the subject of a Child Protection Plan in another local authority, the first authority should consult the child’s home local authority to establish which is responsible for the child in relation to the emergency action. Only when the child’s home local authority explicitly accepts responsibility is the local authority where the child is found relieved of the responsibility to take action. Such acceptance should subsequently be confirmed in writing.

Where further enquiries are required, the agencies primarily involved with the child and family should then assess the needs and circumstances of the child and family, and agree action to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child in the longer term.

Where the concern arises in relation to a looked after child’s placement, the local authority for the area where the child is placed has responsibility to ensure that other local authorities who also have placed children in the same foster home or residential setting are aware of the concern or allegation and that consideration is given to protection of other children in the placement. They should also inform the Regulatory Authority. For the detailed procedure, see Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure.

When a child moves into a Women’s Refuge, an assumption is often made that the child will be safe because of the presence of staff. This assumption should not be relied upon because it is not the role of refuge staff to monitor and supervise the care of children in the refuge; this remains the responsibility of their parents. 

It is therefore necessary for professionals to share relevant information with staff to ensure they know the risk factors in each case and know who they should contact to report concerns. 

Refuge staff should check with the local Children's Social Care officer (in Oxfordshire this will be the relevant office in Children, Education and Families), when admitting families, to check whether there are any Child Protection Plans, CAFs or Team Around the Child processes in place and, if so, they should contact the relevant Lead Social Workeror Lead Professional.


4. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan

4.1 Actions to be taken in the child’s originating area

Where a child subject to a Child Protection Plan moves out of the home area, anyone who becomes aware of the plan to move or the move taking place, must inform the child’s Lead Social Worker if necessary via the relevant Safeguarding Children Board Manager* the for the area where the child is, if the child's whereabouts are known. If the child's whereabouts are unknown, see Children Missing from Home Procedure.

*In Oxfordshire, this is the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance.

The Lead Social Worker will:

  • Immediately inform the Children’s Social Care Services in the new area of the change in the child’s circumstances
  • Send the child’s relevant personal details to the new area including a copy of the most recent Child Protection Plan and Child Protection Conference minutes
  • Inform the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance in Oxfordshire of the changes
  • Inform the Core Group of the change in circumstances
  • If the move is expected to be permanent, request a Transfer Child Protection Conference in the new area, provide a report for the conference and attend.

The Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance will ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the List/Record of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan in Oxfordshire.

Only when the new area has made a decision whether the child is to become subject to a Child Protection Plan or not should the child’s details be removed from the Record of Children who have a Child Protection Plan in Oxfordshire. 

The date that the child’s name is removed from this Record in Oxfordshire will therefore be the date of the Child Protection Conference in the new area when the decision is made. 

4.2 Actions to be taken in the child’s new area

Where a child moves into Oxfordshire, at the point of notification, the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance or his/her nominated representative will:

  • Place the child’s name, address and relevant known personal details on the Record of Children with a Child Protection Plan in Oxfordshire
  • Request information from the originating local authority, including copies of the Initial Child Protection Conference and the last Child Protection Review Conference minutes from the originating area
  • Inform the relevant children’s social work team of the details of the incoming child
  • Inform the Designated Nurse
  • Make arrangements to hold an Initial (“transfer in”) Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of the notification of the child moving in
  • Request representation from the originating local authority’s Children’s Social Care Services to attend the conference to ensure that up to date and accurate information is shared and discussed
  • Confirm the outcome of the Initial Child Protection Conference with the originating local authority’s Local Safeguarding Children Board Manager and forward a copy of the Conference Minutes for their records.

The relevant children’s social work team will:

  • Undertake enquiries to ensure that protective action is taken in order to safeguard the child in Oxfordshire until the Initial Child Protection Conference has taken place
  • Undertake an assessment to determine whether the child is likely to suffer Significant Harm in the future and work with the child and family to prepare for the Initial (“transfer in”) Child Protection Conference

4.3 Temporary moves

A temporary move could cover a range of situations from holiday stays to short stay placement moves to relatives or residential units; the circumstances should always be checked with the child’s Lead Social Worker.

Where it is known that the child has moved out of the area for a temporary period, however long or short, the area where the child is temporarily residing must be provided with the relevant information and contact numbers as follows:

  • The Lead Social Worker must contact the Local Safeguarding Children Board Manager and the children’s social work team where the child is temporarily resident, providing them with the relevant personal details and the last Child Protection Plan.
  • The ‘home’ Local Safeguarding Children Board Manager must write to the Local Safeguarding Children Board Manager in the area of the temporary residence and include any relevant information. In Oxfordshire, the role of the Local Safeguarding Children Board Manager is undertaken by the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance.

The child ‘s name and details will remain on the Record of Children subject to Child Protection Plans in the permanent home area until the criteria for discontinuing the Child Protection Plan are met – see Section 7, Child Protection Review Conference Procedure

5. Children who are not Subject to a Child Protection Plan

Work with children and their families may be taking place in the context of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), or a Team Around the Child (TAC) or the child may be considered a Child in Need under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 when the child/children and family move to another local authority area.

5.1 Actions to be taken in the child’s originating area

Where the child moves out of the home area, anyone who becomes aware of the plan to move or the move taking place, must inform the Lead Professional.

The Lead Professional should:

  • Immediately inform the Children’s Social Care Services in the new area of the change in the child’s circumstances
  • Send the child’s relevant personal details to the new area including a copy of the most recent plan and other relevant documentation.

5.2 Actions to be taken in the child’s new area

As soon as notification is received that the child has moved into Oxfordshire, the Assessment Team Unit Manager or his/her nominated representative will:

  • Request information from the originating local authority, including copies of Assessments and minutes of Planning Meetings and inform the relevant Children’s Assessment Team of the details of the incoming child
  • Ensure that the need for immediate action is determined within 24 hours and a Child and Family Assessment is carried out within 7 days (NB the consequences of the change in circumstances will need assessment but time should not be lost repeating assessments that have already been carried out).
  • Inform relevant health and schools' professionals
  • Request representation from the originating local authority’s Children’s Social Care Services to attend any necessary Planning Meetings to ensure that up to date and accurate information is shared and discussed

Normal allocation and planning processes should then proceed

5.3 Temporary moves

A temporary move could cover a range of situations from holiday stays to short stay placement moves to relatives or residential units; the circumstances should always be checked with the child’s allocated worker

When it is known that a child has moved out of the area for a temporary period, however long or short, the area where the child is temporarily residing may need to be requested to provide services. If that is the case, all necessary information must be shared and a clear plan produced which identifies who will be responsible for each agreed action.

End