SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This transfer protocol aims to ensure that referral pathways between services are clear. It has been written to provide guidance for professionals working with children and families, not rigid rules, and should be used flexibly and with discretion between teams so as to provide high quality services for children and their families.
AMENDMENTThis guidance was reviewed and updated throughout in April 2018 to reflect changes in the delivery of services to children across Wakefield.
- General Principles
- Customer Services
- Integrated Front Door / MASH
- Children's Locality Teams
- Transfer to Complex Care Team
- Edge of Care Team
- Children Looked After
- Leaving Care
- Step-Parent / Non Agency Adoption
- Remand Cases
- Children First Hubs
This Transfer Protocol has been updated to reflect the service reconfiguration which took place in 2017. This protocol aims to ensure that referral pathways between services are clear.
All children who are Looked After deserve the best experiences in life. From excellent parenting which promotes good health and educational attainment, to a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills in order to have an enjoyable childhood and successful adult life. Stable placements, good health and support during transition are all essential elements, but children will only achieve their potential through the ambition and high expectation of those involved in their lives. Relationships between the social worker, the child and their family are central to good care planning and positive outcomes for the child. Whenever children are consulted, both locally and nationally, they overwhelmingly point out the importance to them of having a good relationship with a social worker they know and trust.
2. General Principles
Children's and young people's cases can only be transferred after the electronic file has been subject to a compliance audit and where any identified short-falls have been resolved by the staff in the sending team these will include:
- The audit will check ethnicity, address, case type, relationships, legal status, professionals updated and correct, all plans and assessments are up to date and completed;
- A transfer summary must be completed;
- A management decision should be recorded on the electronic record;
- Team managers will discuss and share all relevant information and a transfer plan will be agreed, which will include the identification of the worker taking on responsibility for the case and confirming that worker's attendance at appropriate meetings and/or at the first court hearing as applicable;
- The child / young person and their parents/carers will be advised in person that the responsibility for service delivery is transferring to another section of the service and the reason for this. In all cases there must be a written communication that confirms the transfer arrangement and advises the name of the new team manager and their contact details. It will also advise on the name and contact details of the new worker;
- All other agencies/professionals involved in supporting the child will be notified of the change in working in writing which will include the name, contact details of the manager, worker and date of transfer.
Where a receiving manager receives a case file record that does not meet the standard outlined in the audit they should discuss the shortfalls with the sending team. Managers should agree to ensure the completion of the work within an agreed timeframe. Until it is mutually agreed by both managers then the case will remain with the holding / transferring manager. This should be recorded on Care Director.
The following principles for children and young people's case will apply across Children and Young People's Services:
The primary consideration in all case transfer decisions and negotiations must be the needs and best interests of the child/young person and their family. The number of transfers will be kept to a minimum and wherever possible the child's wishes and feelings will be taken into account.
Transfer of social worker should not be undertaken at the same time as other key events or transitions in a child's life. It should also be undertaken prior to key transitions to support planning and preparation.
If a child's circumstances change, the decision as to when a child will transfer team will depend on the long term plan for the child.
Transfer should not cause delay to social work intervention with families and should not cause delay in the progression of the child's care plan.
This protocol should be used flexibly and with discretion between teams so as to provide high quality services for children and their families. This will involve professional judgement, assessment, cooperation and effective communication between managers and the teams they manage.
The protocol provides guidance - not rigid rules.
Standards of service delivery across Children's Services are the responsibility of all managers and staff. The attitude of sole concern for the service within which staff are located should be discouraged.
The successful transfer from one team to another is dependent upon both the current allocated worker and the receiving worker being responsible for adhering to expected transfer standards.
Moving to dedicated teams builds on standards of good practice in the delivery of effective and efficient services for children, young people and their families. Assessments of all children, young people and their families should be undertaken in a timely way and be evidence based. All children and young people receiving a service should have a clear plan subject to their status i.e. Child in Need, child subject to a Child Protection Plan or a Child Looked After.
Children with Disabilities
The Complex Health Needs Team will work with children and young people with disabilities in accordance with the revised eligibility criteria. This criteria indicates support to children and young people with severe disabilities, illness or congenital conditions, global developmental delay when their needs cannot be met within universal provision and a combination of disabilities that on their own may or may not be considered severe but together would be regarded so.
Wherever possible, one social worker should work with the whole family group. However, where this is not in the interests of individual children, a lead family social worker will be agreed as a clear joint working arrangement is required. In these situations, the lead family worker will coordinate all actions in relation to the family.
Only where there is disagreement that cannot be resolved will the Service Managers be asked to become involved.
3. Customer Services
Customer Services will act as the first point of contact for all professionals and others who wish to make a referral to CYPS Safeguarding and Family Support.
Customer Services will use the contact script to take and record the initial contact.
Where cases are already open, contact information will be recorded as an activity and an email link will be sent to the allocated worker and copied to team inbox.
4. Integrated Front Door / MASH
All contacts on cases which are not already open to a team are transferred to the Integrated Front Door where they will be reviewed by a Manager or Advanced Social Work Practitioner within one working day.
Where the information obtained does not indicate there is a Level 4 concern, a record will be created on the system which can be accessed via the chronology. If the information suggests the family would benefit from early intervention, a contact is created and discussion is held with the Early Help representative within the MASH to determine the most appropriate level of support. If the case is determined to be level 3 on the continuum of need, the case will be transferred to the Children First Hub. Other cases not meeting the level 3 threshold will be signposted to appropriate support services.
Where the information in the contact suggests that the concerns are Level 5 on the Multi-Agency Continuum of Need – Supporting Children, Young People and Families (2016), the case will progress as a referral into MASH where full multi agency enquiries will be made to inform the decision making as to what level on the continuum of need the case falls.
Where the initial information indicates that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm the contact will progress as a referral into the MASH where a Strategy Meeting will be held to determine if threshold has been met for a Section 47 enquiry.
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) - Any initial checks to determine whether an age assessment has been undertaken by another authority will be completed by the Integrated Front Door. In the event that an age assessment has been completed by another local authority area, the Integrated Front Door will refer the young person back to that authority and Wakefield Council will take no further action. In the event that there has been no previous age assessment completed, the Integrated Front Door will immediately transfer the case to the Children Looked After and Leaving Care Service who will then determine whether it would be appropriate to undertake an age assessment.
Following completion of the MASH Assessment, the analysis will be reviewed by the MASH Manager or Advanced Social Worker Practitioner who will determine what level of intervention is required and will transfer cases to the appropriate teams.
- Where Level 4 intervention is identified the case will transfer to Locality Teams;
- Where Level 3 intervention is identified the case will transfer to the Children First Hubs.
- Where Level 2 intervention is identified the Lead Professional will be identified, the case will be closed to CAF and the Children First Hub notified.
Where the analysis indicates that a Section 47 Investigation may be required a Strategy Meeting will be held and the case will transfer to the Locality Team determined by the outcome of the Strategy Meeting.Where thresholds for further intervention are not met, cases will close.
6. Children's Locality Teams
The Children's Locality Teams will be responsible for undertaking Single Assessments on all children transferred from the Integrated Front Door. Assessments must be completed within 45 working days.
If Level 3 intervention is identified following the assessment the case will follow the step-down process and transfer to the Children First Hubs.
If Level 3 intervention is not required the case will step down to universal services.
The Locality teams are responsible for CIN cases as defined by s17 of the Children Act 1989.
Locality Safeguarding Teams will be responsible for the majority of children on Child Protection Plans. Where an Initial Child Protection Conference is required, the locality teams will prepare the relevant reports and attend Conference.
Locality Safeguarding Teams will also undertake Pre-Birth Assessments and Person Posing a Risk Assessments.
Locality Safeguarding Teams will be responsible for Care Proceedings. Once a case is concluded and the child is subject to a Care Order or Placement with Parents the case will transfer to Looked After Children's Services. Where the plan is for adoption, case management responsibility will be retained by the Locality Safeguarding Teams until the making of the Adoption Order.
Children who have been accommodated subject to Section 20 will remain the responsibility of the Locality Safeguarding Teams until a plan for permanence has been agreed. Only when rehabilitation has been explored and is not appropriate will the case transfer to the Looked After Children teams. All transfers to LAC will include completion of the case transfer audit.
Once all work has been completed cases will either close, transfer to LAC or step-down to Early Help Teams in line with step-down protocol.
If there is a re-referral within 12 weeks then the case is re-allocated to the previous Locality Team, unless the family has moved permanently to a different area of the District.
8. Transfer to Complex Care Team
Where it is the clear assessment of MASH that the child/young person will most appropriately receive services from the Complex Care Needs Team (CCNT), the case should transfer to the CCNT where the preliminary information suggests that 2 or more of the following criteria are met:
- A My Support Plan (MSP) and/Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is in place, indicating one of the following:
- Profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD);
- Severe learning difficulties (SLD) and challenging behaviour as a result of the severity of the learning needs;
- Chronic and life threatening conditions;
- Technology dependent with a risk assessment for administering the treatment at home or in the community;
- In receipt of Community Nursing Support.
In families where there is a child/young person with a disability who meets the criteria as above and who has a sibling with no disability and living in the same household but about whom there are safeguarding concerns at Level 5 on the Continuum of Need (Children whose health or development is significantly impaired due to compromised parenting or whose needs require acute services or care away from their own home) which therefore requires Social Worker support, all Social Worker support to the children/young people will be through the CCNT.
Any requests for Short Breaks or Personal Budgets (Direct Payments) should be made to the Education, Health and Care Panel, using the agreed procedure and by the most appropriate person supporting the child/young person/family, for example, the Child and Family Worker allocated to the family, the Social Worker, WeSail or the Parent Advisory at the child's school.
9. Edge of Care Team
Criteria For The Service
Young people and their families/carers that are identified as appropriate for referral to the Edge of Care team are as follows:
- Cases where there is a clear imminent risk of a child/young person becoming looked after; issues would include complex family dysfunction, significant challenging behaviour that is leading to likelihood of family breakdown, parental substance misuse leading to LA intervention (child protection planning), offending behaviours (including the risk of a remand to local authority care), significant ill health or incapacitation of a primary carer, at risk of school exclusion, parental mental ill health, domestic abuse etc. all of which leads to clear imminent risk of family breakdown and the child/young person at imminent risk of becoming Looked After;
- Risk of reunification plan for child/young person returning to live with parents/extended family members breaking down without intensive focussed support for the child/young person and their family. This can include a child/young person who is at risk of a remand into the care of the Local Authority or being discharged from a young offenders instituton to the care of the local authority and intensive support for the young person and their family is required to reunify the young person with their family and sustain their home placement;
- Time limited focussed support to underpin an assessment for a family that has a long history of involvement with children's social care. Cases may be considered where a child or children are Child in Need to prevent escalation and/or sustain changes when a child is no longer has a plan – with a view to prevent further child protection plan episodes;
- Intensive time limed focussed programme of support to assist in averting care proceedings and provide support to the social worker in assessing risk and monitoring a family's capacity to sustain improved outcomes for the child/young person. This work could be conducted prior to, or after initiating the Public Law Outline process;
- Child protection cases where slow progress to effect change is evident and there is a significant risk of the child/young person becoming Looked After and it is felt that the child/young person and their family would benefit from a whole family approach time limited focussed support and intervention to effect sustainable change. The Edge of Care Team will undertake work working alongside the allocated social worker and other key professionals working with that child and family to support the family to bring about timely sustainable change and prevent, where safe to do so, the young person from becoming Looked After.
- Referrals to The Edge of Care team are received via the weekly Resource and Care Panel or Legal Proceedings Panel (see Children's Resource and Care and Support Panel / Legal Proceedings Panel: Guidance for Practitioners);
- Emergency referrals can also be made to the Edge of Care team where there is a crisis and the young person is considered to be at imminent risk of becoming Looked After. These referrals will receive a same day response visit and where appropriate, a programme of support will be implemented with immediate effect. The case would subsequently need to be presented at the next scheduled Resource and Care Panel for ratification of the actions and future plan;
- The Edge of Care team will provide supports and services to both cases held within the Children First Hubs and Children's Social care where the criteria for the service is met.
10. Children Looked After
LAC Teams will have responsibility for:
- Looked after Children where final orders have been obtained and in the case of Section 20 following the case being presented to the Care and Resource Panel and the decision of permanence has been made;
- Undertake age assessments in respect of unaccompanied asylum seeking children;
- Relinquished babies;
- Pre-Birth Assessments where a sibling is open to LAC or is a LAC child, or where the case has been open to LAC in the past two years and where there is no clear change of circumstances for either parent.
Once a case has transferred to LAC they will retain case management responsibility until either the child:
- Reaches the age of 16 at which point the case will transfer to Leaving Care Team;
- Has their care order revoked / replaced by Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangement Order;
- Where Care Orders are replaced with Supervision Orders, a discussion will take place on the assessment of ongoing need and who will have responsibility for the Supervision Order, including where it will transfer back to the Locality Safeguarding Teams as a Child in Need.
11. Leaving Care
Secondary Allocation with LAC / Locality Team will commence at age 15¾ and transfer at 16 years of age.
Young people who are UASC's and who become LAC age 16 or above will be allocated to leaving care service with immediate effect.Young People who become LAC age 16 or above will be considered for allocation to leaving care service after 13 weeks of being LAC (on meeting Leaving Care eligibility criteria).
Secondary Allocation will commence at the point that a young person transfers into the Leaving Care Service as outlined above.
Primary Allocation/Case Responsibility to a personal advisor will commence after 18th birthday, following the final statutory LAC Review and Case Discussion Meeting.
Consideration will be given to 16+ Team Social Workers remaining involved with 18+ Team cases where appropriate.
Such cases will be discussed at case management discussion meetings.
The Leaving Care service is for young people who are 16 years or over and have accrued an entitlement to Leaving Care provision. Where a young person has become Looked After at the age of 16 or later, and a permanence decision is made, they can be transferred to the Leaving Care service earlier than the point at which they have accrued the entitlement to Leaving Care services. In this eventuality, the Leaving Care service should be alerted to the likely transfer at an earlier point.
When a young person is 15, and it is clear that they will continue to be looked after, and thereby become entitled to Leaving Care services, they should be referred to the service when the young person is 15 years and 9 months of age, with the expectation that the case responsibility will transfer will on, or shortly after the 16th birthday.
Prior to the case being transferred, where possible, there will be a face to face transfer meeting between the allocated Leaving Care staff and the Social Work staff who are transferring the case out of their service area.
There may be some exceptional circumstances in which the case responsibility does not transfer at 16, but these will relate to the needs of the young person and particulars about their circumstances. In these circumstances, the Leaving Care service will identify which staff will be allocated to that young person, and the allocated Leaving Care Social Worker will take responsibility for ensuring that the Pathway Plan is completed within 3 months of the young person's 16th birthday.
The Leaving Care service will allocate a Leaving Care Social Worker and a Personal Advisor on the young person's 16th birthday, and these staff will have the case management responsibility for progressing the plans for that young person.For most young people, the Social Work involvement with them will cease when they reach 18 years of age, and the Personal Advisor that they have had since they were 16 years of age will continue to be the allocated responsible worker. Where a young person has some particular, complex issues (which may for example, relate to mental health or pregnancy), then the Social Work involvement can, and should, continue in order to ensure that the young person's needs are met and that the young person can be well supported to make progress and achieve independence.
Most children with a permanence decision by the 2nd LAC review and who have a plan for adoption are initially held in the Locality Teams whilst Care Proceedings are ongoing and then transfer to LAC following the making of a Placement Order.
If the parents have been involved in single or multiple proceedings where the decision has been made to remove their child within two years and where there is no clear change of circumstances for either parent, and adoption is likely to be the outcome for the child the case should transfer immediately into LAC to undertake the pre-birth assessment / care proceedings.
A Family Finder from the Regional Adoption Agency (One Adoption West Yorkshire) will be identified prior to the child's case being presented to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) for a 'SHOBPA' (should be placed for adoption) recommendation.
Case responsibility for a child's case will remain with LAC but the SW will work closely with the Regional Adoption Agency (OAWY) once the care proceedings are completed and a Placement Order has been granted. The Adoption Social Worker will take responsibility for all family finding requirements whilst the child remains in the 'looked after' system the LAC SW will remain involved as the child's worker following the move to an adoptive placement until the making of an Adoption Order.
For those children who are managed by the Children with Complex Care Needs Team who become subject of a Placement Order the CCNT will retain case management responsibility up until the making of the Adoption Order given the very specific needs of those children.
Siblings with Differing Legal Status
Where siblings / step-siblings have differing legal status (i.e. ICO/CO and ISO/SO or Residence Order/SGO where there is an identified need for ongoing support as part of a CiN Plan) the cases should be allocated in accordance with the One Service principal.
Thus where the children are living in the same household and some are subject of Supervision Orders and some subject of Care Orders and Placement with Parents Regulations all of the children should transfer to the LAC Teams.However, where those children are living in different households their issues, needs and long-term plans are likely to be quite different. As a result they should be allocated to the most relevant team dependent on their legal status (Supervision Orders, SGOs etc to Locality, S20 and ICOs etc to LAC).
13. Step-Parent / Non Agency Adoption
Cases will be referred to the Integrated Front Door and then transfer directly to the Adoption Team who will complete all of the relevant assessments and Court reports. However, managers from any service area may request a Step-Parent Adoption for a Student Social Worker to complete as part of their placement.
14. Remand Cases
Where young people are remanded into the care of the Local Authority they will ordinarily be allocated to the LAC Remand Social Worker based within the Youth Offending Team.
Where the young person is the subject of a Care Order or Section 20 prior to being remanded, their looked after status does not alter and the LAC Team retains the responsibility.
In these circumstances the remanded young person becomes a looked after young person only by virtue of that remand. Upon the discharge of the remand or a sentence to custody the young person ceases to be looked after and the case can either be closed or transferred, depending on the assessment of their need, to the most appropriate team in accordance with protocol.
If the remanded young person completes a period of thirteen weeks as remand then the young person will become a relevant child and will become eligible for leaving care support, following the period of thirteen weeks remand a referral to the 16 + Team will be made and a Leaving Care Social Worker will be allocated.
15. Children First Hubs
Where cases are deemed to no longer require support at Level 4 but would benefit from continued support at level 3 on the continuum of need they will be considered by the step-step down panel to determine the best course of action.
All cases for consideration by panel will require a completed assessment, panel front sheet and case summary. The panel meets weekly and is chaired by a service manager.
Where it is agreed that case will step-down to Early Help the agreed plans will be recorded and a joint visit will be arranged to introduce the new worker.See terms of reference of the step up step down panel.
Following completion of an Early Help Assessment when the Children First Hub Team Managers/Advanced Social Work Practitioner believes the case should be escalated from level 3 to Level 4, the case will be referred to the weekly step up/down panel. A completed assessment, panel front sheet and case summary will be required. The panel meets weekly and is chaired by a service manager.
For cases where step up is agreed, a joint visit will be undertaken and transfer plan agreed.
See terms of reference of step up step down panel.
If the case has been closed within 4 weeks the case should be returned to the team which closed the case unless the child/family have moved to another area.Where new concerns emerge on cases open to Children First Hubs which would indicate a s47 enquiry may be needed, the Children First Hub team manager or Advanced Social Work Practitioner will contact the Integrated Front Door to arrange a strategy meeting.