SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
These procedures focus on Children's Social Care (CSC) teams and children receiving early help preventative services provided by the family wellbeing service, children in need as defined by the Children Act 1989, including those who are subject to a child protection plan, those who are looked after and those receiving after care services. It sets out the arrangements for all children and young people whose case is transferring between allocated practitioners and transfers between any of the following teams across the Service:
- Early Help Family Wellbeing Service;
- Referral and Assessment Service;
- Family Support & Child Protection Service;
- Disabled Children's Service;
- Looked After Children Service;
- Leaving and After Care Service.
This chapter was added to the manual in April 2017.
- The Transfer Process Between Services
- Transfers Between Practitioners in the Same Service
- Transfers Between Statutory Children's Social Work Service to Non-Statutory Early Help Family Wellbeing Service
- Service Remit & Transfer Points Between Statutory Social Work Services
1. Principles Underpinning the Transfer of Cases
These procedures set out 'best practice' principles and processes regarding case transfers. In order for the process of case transfer to work as effectively as possible for the child & family, a degree of professional judgment will be required in many cases to decide when to transfer. At all times the needs of the child are paramount when considering a change of the adult who is helping them. A change of practitioner is a significant event for a child and family and needs to be reflected in sensitive and careful handling by managers and practitioners.
2. The Transfer Process Between Services
Transfers between practitioners and/or services will be conducted in a timely fashion, ensuring as much continuity as possible for families. All transfers between services will be discussed and decided through the weekly transfer panel. Transfer panel involves the service managers from each of the services.
- Allocated practitioner sends transfer summary to transfer panel administrator and family is put on the agenda for the next panel;
- Allocated practitioner and/or manager attends transfer panel to present reason for transfer;
- Transfer panel decides on transfer and agreed handover/transfer date is identified;
- Pending change of worker discussed with family and professionals;
- Team manager oversight ensures child's case file record is up to date and ready for transfer;
- Transfer meeting takes place between transferring and receiving practitioners and managers;
- Letters dispatched to family and professionals confirming a change of service and/or practitioner and date of transfer. (See standard template on LCS);
- Handover meeting held with the family between transferring and receiving practitioners, within 5 working days of the transfer date.
3. Transfers Between Practitioners in the Same Service
All transfers (re-allocations) between practitioners in the same service area will be decided and managed between Team Managers. The above steps (d) to (h) also apply to changes of allocated practitioner.
At no point should a child be left without a named allocated practitioner. If difficulties are experienced in transferring cases due to capacity this should be immediately escalated to the Service Manager. The Head of Service and Deputy Director should be notified in writing and a record kept of the agreement for each case that has been escalated.
If a family are receiving a service in the family support and child protection service move to a different locality within the borough of Bexley, case responsibility will remain with the locality team to whom the case is originally allocated.
Transfer/closure summaries & case records
Transfer arrangements will always be mindful of the need to ensure the safety of children. It is essential that good quality information is passed from the transferring practitioner/service to prevent gaps in knowledge and delay in activity.
Wherever a child experiences a transfer between practitioner and/or service, the transferring practitioner must ensure the child's record is up to date with all relevant information and a transfer or closure summary is available. The manager is responsible for ensuring the case record is up to date before transfer.
Handover meetingsChildren, young people, their parents/carers and other professionals engaged with the family should always be advised of any plans to change practitioner and/or service in advance. Transfers should always involve a handover meeting with the transferring and receiving practitioners, with the family. If this is not possible, the reasons will need to be explained to the family and recorded on child's record.
4. Transfers Between Statutory Children's Social Work Service to Non-Statutory Early Help Family Wellbeing Service
Transferring a family from Family Wellbeing Service to Children's Social Care
If at any time the family Key Worker in the Family Wellbeing Service thinks the family's difficulties are worsening and the team around the family has become worried that the child or young person's needs are increasing, the family Key Worker must alert a Family Wellbeing manager immediately. Following a case mapping session (if necessary), the manager will make the decision whether or not to transfer the family to Children's Social Care.
If the child or young person is considered to be 'in need' of a statutory social work assessment, the family should be transferred to Children's Social Care by the Family Key Worker and/or manager presenting the case at the next weekly transfer panel.
If the child or young person is considered to be at risk of, or suffering from significant harm, the family will be transferred from Family Wellbeing Service to Children's Social Care Referral & Assessment duty team immediately and a Child Protection (Section 47) Strategy Meeting held. The Family Key Worker and manager must attend the Strategy Meeting.
Transferring a family from Children's Social Care to the Family Wellbeing ServiceWhen Children's Social Care social work specialist service has been helping a family to improve a situation, the child or young person's needs should have lessened and the family may no longer require a statutory service. However, to embed the positive changes the family may need some continued help at a non-statutory. With agreement, families who meet the Family Wellbeing Service criteria and that want to continue to receive a service, can be transferred from Children's Social Care to the Family Wellbeing Service. To transfer a family the social worker will need to present the case at weekly transfer panel.
5. Service Remit & Transfer Points Between Statutory Social Work Services
A child will transfer from the MASH to the Assessment Service at the point at which it is agreed that the threshold for Child & Family assessment has been reached. This transfer should occur within 24 hours of receipt of the request for service. If the MASH receives a re-referral on a child previously known to any statutory service within 3 months of the case being closed, the child will be transferred back to the previous service and where possible to the previous allocated social worker. A child must be allocated to a social worker within 24 hours of the decision being made in the MASH.
The Assessment Service
The Assessment Service includes three teams, responsible for undertaking the C&F assessment, child protection enquiries, private fostering assessments and Section 7 or 37 court welfare reports. If the assessment concludes that the child is in need of a non statutory family wellbeing service, or a statutory social work service, the case will need to be presented at transfer panel at the earliest opportunity to transfer to one of the following services dependent on help required:
- Family Wellbeing Service;
- Family Support & Child Protection Service;
- Looked After Children Service;
- Children with Disabilities service.
Family Support & Child Protection Service
This service includes four locality teams who are responsible for providing help and services to children in need and children who are subject to a Child Protection plans.
The case will need to be presented at transfer panel at the earliest opportunity to transfer to the Family Wellbeing Service or the Looked After Children service. A case may transfer to the Family Wellbeing service in the circumstances and through the process stated above.
A case will transfer from the Family Support & Child Protection service to the Looked After Children service when a child is becomes Looked After. If a child becomes looked after under Section 20, without a legal order, the transfer will be at/or around the first Looked After Review meeting. Where a child is subject to Care Proceedings, the transfer will take place at/or around the first hearing, when an Interim Care Order has been obtained. Initial statements and care plans should be sent to the Looked After Children service manager before submitting them to court and the plan should be agreed between the services.
The Family Support & Child Protection social worker should invite the receiving Looked After Children social worker and/or manager to any significant meetings, such as a Child Protection Conference, Looked After Review (with the child/young persons agreement), Legal Planning Meetings and Public Law Outline (PLO) meetings.
For looked after children the following must have been completed before transfer:
- Most recent Looked After Child Social Workers review report;
- Placement Information Record;
- Initial Person Education Plan (PEP);
- Initial Medical should have been arranged and where possible taken place;
- Up to date Care Plan;
- A copy of all current Legal Orders must be scanned into the case file record. In the case of a child Looked After (on a Care Order under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989) a copy of the birth certificate will be retained, or (for children accommodated under Section 20) will have been requested;
- Any financial agreements should be up to date.
The Looked After Children Service
This service includes three teams responsible for children who are looked after by Bexley.
Cases that move to the Leaving Care Team do not go through the traditional weekly transfer meeting.
The Leaving Care team and the three Looked after Children's teams are overseen by a service manager who reports to the Head of Service for Looked after Children and Permanence which includes leaving care.
Children and young people in Bexley are considered to be leaving care aged 18. At 17.6 months the Looked After Children team notifies the Leaving Care Manager of a young person and the Leaving care manager will allocate a Personal Advisor to the young person. The Personal Advisor will co-work with the allocated social worker until the young person becomes 18.
This allows for a smooth transition and introduction to the young person's preparation to leaving care.
The Leaving Care Service
Will work with a young person up until they are 25 as set out in the governments Keep on Caring Policy: supporting young people from care to independence. The young person has to acceptant of the support offered.
Managers will work co-operatively to resolve case transfer issues as they arise. Resolution should in all cases be achieved within 1 working day. The key aim is to ensure that the flow of cases is achieved by managers working together. In rare and exceptional cases, it will be necessary to refer the matter to the Deputy Director whose decision will be binding.