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WakefieldCouncil Children and Young People Service Procedures Manual

Transfer Protocol for Fieldwork Services

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.

It was reviewed throughout in May 2016 to reflect changes in service delivery in Wakefield over the last 12 months.

This chapter is currently under review.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. General Principles
  3. Customer Services
  4. Triage
  5. MASH
  6. JIT
  7. Children's Assessment Teams
  8. Locality Safeguarding Teams
  9. Re-referrals
  10. Transfer to Complex Care Team
  11. Intensive Support Team
  12. Looked After Children
  13. Leaving Care
  14. Adoption
  15. Step-Parent Adoption
  16. Remand Cases
  17. Early Help Teams

1. Introduction

This Transfer Protocol has been updated to reflect the service reconfiguration which took place in 2015. 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:

Child Focus

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.

No Delay

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.

Flexibility

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 is provides guidance - not rigid rules.

One Service

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.

Improved Service

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.

Siblings

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. Triage

All contacts on cases which are not already open to a team are transferred to Triage where they will be reviewed by a Manager or Principal Social Worker within 24 hours.

Where the information obtained does not indicate there is a Level 4 / 5 concern, the contact will either be closed and logged as a contact, or if the information suggests the family would benefit from early intervention, the contact is transferred to the Early Help Team (EHT) for their consideration.

Where the initial information indicates that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm the contact will become a referral and transfer to JIT for a Strategy Discussion to determine if thresholds have been met for a Section 47 enquiry.

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 transfer as a referral to MASH.

However there are certain exceptions which will not be transferred to MASH but will transfer immediately to the relevant teams:

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) - In relation to the requirement to age assessment for an UASC, the initial checks to whether an age assessment has been done by another authority will be completed by the Triage team. In the event that an age assessment has been completed by another local authority area, the Triage team 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 Triage team will immediately transfer the case to the LAC and Leaving Care Service who will then complete an age assessment. (This is under further Review)

See also Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Procedure.

5. MASH

Following completion of the MASH Assessment, the analysis will be reviewed by the MASH Manager or Principal Social Worker who will determine what level of intervention is required and will transfer cases to the appropriate teams.

  • Where Level 5 intervention is identified the case will transfer to Assessment Teams;
  • Where Level 4 intervention is identified the case will transfer to Early Help Teams;
  • Where Level 3 intervention is identified the Lead Professional will be identified and the case will be closed to CAF.

Where the analysis would indicate that a Section 47 Investigation may be required the case will transfer to JIT for a Strategy Discussion.

Where thresholds for further intervention are not met, cases will close.

6. JIT

JIT will undertake Section 47 Investigations on all cases that are not currently open to Assessment, Locality or LAC Teams.

Where cases are open to Early Help Teams, Intensive Support Teams or Complex Care if a decision is made that a Strategy Discussion is required to determine if a Section 47 Investigation is required, the case will be dual allocated to JIT whilst the investigation is ongoing (following discussion between the relevant managers). If concerns are unsubstantiated the case will be closed to JIT and remain open to Early Help Teams or to Intensive Support Teams. The Early Help Teams, Intensive Support Teams or Complex Care Team should attend the Strategy Discussion.

Recommendations for conference – where concerns are substantiated and there is a recommendation for an Initial Child Protection Conference, JIT will convene the conference and complete the report. The case will transfer to the Locality Safeguarding Team at the Conference. The JIT team will inform the Locality Safeguarding team of the request for conference and the Locality Safeguarding team will be expected to attend the conference.

Where a child has been accommodated and there has been a decision to issue proceedings, JIT will be responsible for the case until the first hearing, after which the case will transfer to the Locality Safeguarding Team.

Where the Section 47 Investigation indicates a need for a full assessment the case will transfer to the Assessment Team.

Where further intervention has been identified at Level 4 and parents have given consent the case will be transferred to the Early Help Teams.

Where a CAF is appropriate JIT will identify the lead professional and close to CAF.

7. Children's Assessment Teams

The Children's Assessment Teams will be responsible for undertaking Single Assessments on all children transferred to the Teams. The assessments must be completed within 45 working days. The teams will undertake Pre-Birth Assessment where the families have not previously been in proceedings.

If, during the course of an assessment the Children's Assessment Team convene an ICPC, they will notify the relevant Locality Safeguarding Team. Responsibility for writing the Conference Report and the completion of the Single Assessment will remain with the Children's Assessment Team. However the Locality Safeguarding Team will attend conference and take over case responsibility from the date of conference.

If Level 4 intervention is identified following the assessment the case will follow the step-down process and transfer for Early Help Teams.

If Level 3 CAF is identified following the assessment the Assessment Team will identify a lead professional.

If the assessment outcome is that the child is a Child in Need, then the Assessment Team will arrange the initial Child in Need meeting and invite the Locality Safeguarding Team to attend the initial Child in Need meeting, after which the case will transfer to the Locality Safeguarding Team.

8. Locality Safeguarding Teams

Will have responsibility for all cases which have been assessed as CIN following a Single Assessment.

The Assessment Teams are responsible for arranging the first CIN meeting and will invite the Locality Team to attend the meeting. In cases where a CIN meeting has been arranged as part of the assessment process the locality team will be invited to the review of the CIN plan before the end of the assessment if it is likely that the conclusion will be to be action that will involve the locality safeguarding team.

The Locality Safeguarding Team will have responsibility for the case from the date of the first CIN meeting.

Locality Safeguarding Teams will be responsible for the majority of children on CP Plans. Where an ICPC is arranged by JIT or an Assessment Team the arranging team will complete the ICPC report, will attend the ICPC and the case will transfer to the Locality Team after the ICPC.

Locality Safeguarding Teams will also undertake Pre-Birth Assessments where families have previously been the subject of proceedings and Person Posing Risk Assessments.

Locality Safeguarding Teams will be responsible for Care Proceedings although there will be some instances where the majority of the knowledge about the family and care proceedings is held in the LAC team who may have conducted a pre-birth assessment in relation to that, in these instances the care proceedings may be held within the LAC Service. Once a case is concluded and the child is subject to a Care Order or Placement with Parents the case will transfer to LAC.

Children who have been accommodated under Section 20, following the case being presented to the Legal Gateway Panel, will remain the responsibility of the Locality Safeguarding Team until a plan for permanence has been agreed. Only when rehabilitation has been explored and is not appropriate will the case transfer to LAC. All transfers to LAC need to 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.

9. Re-referrals

If there is a re-referral within four weeks then the case is re-allocated to the previous case managing team, unless the family has moved permanently to a different area of the borough.

This allocation should be to the area where the family permanently reside (which may not necessarily be the same team that held the case previously).

10. Transfer to Complex Care Team

Where it is the clear assessment of Triage/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 dependant 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.

11. Intensive Support Team

Under Eleven

  • The Intensive Support Team will undertake commissioned interventions at Level 5(CIN/CP/LAC) to support Pre-birth Assessments, Parenting Assessments, Placement with Parents Regulations and Rehabilitation home plans. These can be intensive pieces of work to high risk, edge of care cases where one child within the family is under the age of 1 year;
  • The Intensive Support Team under 11's service will also offer commissioned Family Group Conference intervention to families of children aged 0-11 who are an open case at Level 5 (CIN/CP/LAC) and where a risk of family breakdown has been identified, a risk of significant harm to the children, or where it is appropriate that the child/ren are re-habilitated home to their family from the Looked After System.

Over Eleven

  • The Intensive Support Team will undertake both commissioned and case held intervention at Level 5 (CIN/CP/LAC) to support young people and their families where the young person is identified as being at risk of family breakdown, at risk of significant harm or where it is appropriate that the young person is returned to their family from the Looked After system. The Intensive Support Team will work alongside the Residential Family Support Team to provide both outreach packages of support to young people on the edge of care and rehabilitation packages to those young people accommodated at the Residential Family Support Team. These packages will be highly intensive and time limited;
  • The Intensive Support Team over 11 years' service will also offer Family Group Conference intervention to families aged 11-19 years who are an open case at Level 5 (CIN/CP/LAC) and where a risk of family breakdown has been identified, a risk of significant harm to the young person or where it is appropriate that the young person is re-habilitated home to their family from the Looked After System.

Transfers of Case held Child in Need Plans

  • Level 5 Child in Need cases requiring a transfer as a result of an increase in safeguarding concerns will be processed by the Intensive Support Team Manager through direct consultation with the Locality Team Manager and on completion of a transfer summary. If the safeguarding concerns are different to those outlined in the original Single Assessment then this consultation will take place with the Assessment Team Manager;
  • Level 5 Child in Need cases requiring a potential S47 investigation will be referred back to the original Assessment Team through direct consultation by the Intensive Support Team Manager and will continue to be co-worked by the Intensive Support Team.

De – escalation of Case held Child in Need Plans

  • Level 5 Child in Need cases requiring a de-escalation to a Level 4 package of support will be processed by the Intensive Support Team Manager through direct consultation with the Integrated Early Help Hub Manager and on completion of a full case summary.

12. Looked After Children

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 Legal Gateway 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 who will have responsibility for the Supervision Order and whether it will transfer to the Locality Safeguarding Teams. Following the discharge of orders LAC will assess the need for ongoing intervention and at Level 5 will transfer to Locality Safeguarding Teams as Child in Need;
  • At Level 4 will transfer to Early Help Teams or at Level 3 will identify a lead professional for a CAF.

13. Leaving Care

16+ Team

Secondary Allocation with LAC / Locality Team will commence at age 15¾.

In line with the Child Focus and Flexible Principle consideration will be given when the reallocation of the young person's case will take place but the case will not be reallocated in Year 11 (GCSE year). Primary Allocation / Case Responsibility will be:

  • 16th birthday between Sept – Nov to transfer in June of year 11;
  • 16th birthday between Dec – Feb to transfer in July of year 11;
  • 16th birthday between Mar – May to transfer in Aug of year 11;
  • 16th birthday between Jun – Aug to transfer in Sept of year 11.

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).

18+ Team

Secondary Allocation will commence at age 17½.

In line with the Child Focus and Flexible Principle consideration will be given when the reallocation of the young person's case will take place. Primary Allocation/Case Responsibility will commence after 18th birthday, following the Pathway Plan Review and Case Discussion Meeting.

Consideration will be given to 16+ Team Social Workers remaining involved with 18+ Team cases where appropriate.

Consideration will be given to 18+ Team PA's becoming involved with 16+ Team cases prior to 17½ 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, they can be transferred to the Leaving Care service at the point that 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, 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.

14. Adoption

Most children 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 Adoption team 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 Adoption and Permanence Team 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 CCCNT 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).

15. Step-Parent Adoption

Cases will be referred to SCD 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.

16. 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.

17. Early Help Teams

Step down

Where cases are stepped down to Early Help there will be a conversation between the Early Help Team manager and Assessment/Locality Team Manager to agree case holding management responsibility.

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.

Step up

Following completion of an Early Help Assessment when the Early Help Team Managers/Principal Social Worker believes the case should be escalated from level 4 to Level 5, the case should be referred trough the normal process via Triage. This will then be redirected. 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.

  • If a Single Assessment has been completed by the Assessment Team within the last month and the concerns are the same as the initial referral, the case will be discussed initially with the Assessment Team Manager and transferred to them if deemed Level 5;
  • Where there has not been a Single Assessment completed within the last month or the concerns are significantly different, the case will be discussed initially with the Assessment Team Manager and transferred to them if deemed Level 5.