1.7 Working with children and families who move across Safeguarding Children Partnership Boundaries
Reviewed in Jan 2023
Date of next review Jan 2025
- Introduction(Jump to)
- Definitions(Jump to)
- Indicators of Risk(Jump to)
- Information Sharing and Consent(Jump to)
- Child in Need(Jump to)
- Child on a Child Protection Plan(Jump to)
- The temporary move of a child on a Child Protection Plan(Jump to)
- Looked after children(Jump to)
- Child with a Statutory Order in Originating Authority(Jump to)
- Children who are accommodated(Jump to)
- Where a parent is accommodated or a care leaver(Jump to)
- Children who move during section 47 enquiries(Jump to)
- Disputed Arrangements(Jump to)
- Other circumstances requiring cooperation across Local Authority boundaries(Jump to)
- Responsibilities of Health Professionals(Jump to)
- Responsibilities of Education Professionals(Jump to)
This procedure 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. This procedure is to be used where there is contact with the family by the statutory agencies and some degree of concern for the child. The same principles apply where a child moves within a local authority area.
Where a child moves and the family cannot be located, the Joint Policy for Children Missing | Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures Manual should also be followed.
Regardless of the reasons or circumstances for families moving between local authority areas, the Children Act 1989 is clear about where the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of such children lies (Section 17 and Section 47): it is with the Local Authority responsible for the area in which the child is to be "found", i.e. where they are at the time that concern may arise, which will generally be where they are living.
However, where a child is currently receiving services, or is subject to a section 47 enquiry, formal transfer processes should be followed. Responsibility for safeguarding the child will remain with the local authority where the child was living (even though the child will have moved) until these transfer processes have been fully completed.
In the following circumstances the Local Authority where the family previously lived will retain responsibility for the child
1. Children subject to a statutory order - this includes:
2. Children who are accommodated
3. Where a parent is accommodated or a care leaver
4. Children subject to a Child Protection Plan
5. Children in receipt of services as a ‘child in need’ including finanical support
6. Children who move during section 47 enquiries
This section provides information and defines responsibilities where a child and/or their family have moved to a different Local Authority - e.g. a:
The term 'Originating Authority refers to the Authority in which the child previously lived, and 'Receiving Authority' to the Authority to which the child has moved.
Indicators of Risk
Along with the indicators of risk of significant harm set out in the Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure the following circumstances associated with children and families moving across local authority boundaries are a cause for concern:
Staff in all agencies must be alert to the possibility that a child or family who comes to their attention may not receive universal services.
Information Sharing and Consent
Particular care must be exercised by all agencies in contact with children and families moving across boundaries to collect accurate and share information e.g.
Staff in Originating Authorities must ensure that their counterparts in the Receiving Authority have been sent a copy of all relevant records within 5 days of being notified of the move.
Staff in Receiving Authorities must ensure that they request relevant records from their counterparts in Originating Authorities when notified of the move.
All attendance of children at A&E departments should be communicated to community-based staff via paediatric liaison services.
You can read more about good information sharing in the pan Sussex Information Sharing Guidance
Child in Need
Responsibilities & procedure for the Originating Authority
If a family with children subject to a Child in Need Plan moves to another area, then the Originating Authority should notify the Receiving Authority that the family have moved and provide copies of relevant documentation:
Where a family has only been resident in the Originating Authority for a short period of time, then the respective Authorities should consider who is best placed to undertake the assessment.
Responsibilities & Procedure for Receiving Authority
The Receiving Authority must undertake the following actions:
The following conditions apply:
Child on a Child Protection Plan
The Social Worker will:
Action to be taken when a temporary or permanent move is planned or suspected
In any circumstance where a temporary or permanent move is planned or suspected, the social worker and the Core Group will consider implications for the child’s wellbeing and safety. The Child Protection Plan will be updated with any arrangements necessary to strengthen safety and the updated plan shared with the family and Core Group.
The social worker will consult with the following:
The Social Worker will:
The Social Worker will:
The social worker and the Core Group remain responsible for implementing the Child Protection Plan until the above actions have been completed. They will resume responsibility for implementing the Child Protection Plan when notified of the children's return.
Following consultation with the family, and Core Group, Children's Services will inform the parents of the professional view about the child's best interests, including any implications for decision-making or other action planned by the local authority.
If the child is taken abroad without notice or planning
The social worker will inform the relevant authorities in the country of destination, seeking advice from Children and Family Services Across Borders - (formerly International Social Services) as necessary. The social worker should at once inform their Head of Service and Children’s Services Head of Safeguarding.
If a criminal investigation is underway, police will inform the relevant Police force abroad.
If the child does not return before the time the Review Child Protection Conference is due, it will go ahead with information gathered from relevant local agencies as well as the information gathered from Children and Family Services Across Borders. A decision whether the child should remain subject to a Child Protection Plan will be made and if so, a revised Child Protection Plan made.
Responsibility for the Child Protection Plan
The steps outlined under ‘Action to be taken when a temporary or permanent move is planned or suspected’ should be completed addition to the actions set out below.
The temporary move of a child on a Child Protection Plan
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, consideration should be given to what information may need to be shared with agencies in the area.
It is the Originating Authority's responsibility to ensure the Child Protection Plan continues to be implemented until the formal transfer has been agreed at a Transfer Conference.
Useful criteria to judge the permanency of a move will include security of housing, registration with a GP, enrolment in an education or early years provision
Where the originating authority is dealing with a child through the public law outline but proceedings have not been initiated pending further assessments, then case responsibility should remain with the originating authority.
If there is evidence of immediate or increased risk resulting from the move; or there is evidence that the family have only moved to avoid legal proceedings, then the originating authority should instigate proceedings immediately.
Looked after children
Rsponsibility remains with the Originating Authority unless there are clear agreed transfer arrangements. Responsibility cannot transfer if the child has a final Care Order – see Child with a Statutory Order in Originating Authority below
If there are safeguarding concerns, a Strategy Discussion should be convened by the Local Authority in which the child has suffered or is identified to be at risk of, harm or neglect.
Child with a Statutory Order in Originating Authority
Children's Social Care responsibility
Children with a full Care Order or an Interim Care Order remain the responsibility of the Originating Authority until the order is discharged or expires.
Where a Care Order is in force, the Receiving Authority may, (and this must be confirmed in writing by a Manager or above) agree to provide required services on behalf of the Originating Authority. Still, the legal responsibility remains with the Originating Authority.
Responsibility to provide/obtain information
Children who are accommodated
As a general principle, if a family move into Emergency Accommodation provided by the Local Authority, this is normally for a short period of time, up to 6 weeks. This allows time for the housing duty to be initially assessed. The family may move back to their Originating Authority. If the family are open to Children's Services, the Originating Authority would maintain their case responsibility during this Emergency Accommodation period. This avoids unnecessary 'bouncing' of case responsibility.
If this accommodation becomes Temporary Accommodation, which is often in place for an extended period of time, and the process of setting up local services such as schools and a GP has started, the Receiving Authority will take over case responsibility.
An accommodated child remains the responsibility of the Originating Authority until:
Any child protection concerns which subsequently arise are the responsibility of the Local Authority in whose area the child is found.
Where a parent is accommodated or a care leaver
Where a child is a mother/expectant mother and is accommodated or subject to leaving care arrangements (potentially up to 25 years), the responsibility for these services remains with the Originating Authority, unless formally transferred.
The Receiving Authority will be responsible for responding to any concerns about the baby. There are occasions when this might require review on a case by case level between managers.
Children who move during section 47 enquiries
The Originating Authority retains responsibility until the completion of the Section 47 Enquiry.
The Section 47 Enquiries procedure provides further guidance on the duty and arrangements for conducting such enquiries.
If there are any disputes about the acceptance or transfer of cases, these should be resolved by managers and escalated through the management structure as necessary.
Procedures cannot cover all eventualities and decisions about case responsibility must ultimately be based on children's needs. In some cases, e.g. where children of the same family may be living separately, discussion between managers should clarify which Authority will take overall case responsibility, based on the long-term needs of the children concerned.
Other circumstances requiring cooperation across Local Authority boundaries
Where there is a co-parenting arrangement (however imbalanced) across two different local authority areas, the professionals in the two areas should jointly plan for the child's safety. This will include an assessment of the child's needs in both locations and an assessment of both parents.
Child supported on the Channel Programme
Children and young people who are supported through the Channel programme and move into another Local Authority need to be supported in the Receiving Authority. The Channel Programme chair will inform the counterpart in the Receiving Authority. If a case involves two or more Local Authority areas, for instance, the individual resides in one Authority, but works or attends school in another, or in the case of a looked-after child being the responsibility of one Authority, but housed in another, then both local authorities must attend the Channel panel. The lead Authority is always the Authority in which the individual resides.
Children who go missing
Where a local authority places a child in another local authority area who then goes missing the Missing Episode should be processed by the local authority area where the child is residing. In this regard the lead authority for processing missing episodes should be where the child is currently residing. There should be liaison between the two local authorities to agree which agency is best placed to complete the Return Home Interview, working on the basis that it is best practice for the interview to be conducted by the allocated social worker who knows the child. A record of the completed interview should be shared with the local authority in which the child resides and the respective Police force. The local authority with responsibility for the child should also share any updating actions to reduce likelihood of further missing episodes.
Child on the Sex Offenders Register
These children are covered by the Public Protection Arrangements
The following information must be shared in all circumstances:
Child/ren (with or without carers) from outside the UK
The following applies to all children moving into the Local Authority from outside the UK, whether unaccompanied, with their family/relatives or with other adults (see also Children from abroad)
Responsibility for Recognition of Child in Need
The agencies include:
See also Child victims of modern slavery
Children's Social Care receiving the referral must undertake an Assessment of any child who appears to be a Child in Need in accordance with the Children Act 1989.
They should notify local Health Services and the Education Welfare Services of such a child.
As part of the Assessment, social workers should ensure that they:
Professionals from such agencies as health, social care services or the police should request this information from their equivalent agencies in the country/countries in which the child has lived. Information about who to contact can be obtained via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the appropriate embassy or Consulate based in London.
Responsibilities of Health Professionals
Information regarding children who meet the criteria outlined at the beginning of this procedure must be transferred between health trusts in a timely and appropriate manner. If a child is on a Child Protection Plan, or there is a relevant court order, or they are on a child in need plan, the records or information should be transferred directly to the office of the designated/named professional in the relevant trust.
The responsible worker/trust/department in the Receiving Authority should be notified at the earliest opportunity by telephone of the family's move. Colleagues in other agencies and health trusts who have contact with the family should be informed of the move and given up to date information. Practitioners from the Originating Authority may be asked to provide a report or attend a Transfer Conference, this should be discussed, and an agreement reached regarding a response that best meets the needs of the child/family.
In all other circumstances, information should be shared following normal information-sharing agreements.
Children who need a paediatric assessment should be seen at a site that meets both the needs of the child and the service. It is essential that there be a discussion with the paediatrician before the Assessment to agree on appropriate action.
Responsibilities of Education Professionals
Any information relating to a child that meets the criteria described at the beginning of this procedure must be transferred between schools or other education settings in a timely and appropriate manner. If a child is on a Child Protection Plan or they are subject to a court order, or they are a Chid in Need– the child's academic and all other records must be transferred to the named school and, if other education services are to be provided, in the first instance the senior area attendance officer. Depending on the admission arrangements, contact should be made with the relevant admission service to ensure the child is registered at an appropriate school immediately. If it becomes known that a child has moved into an authority without a recent education history the child must be tracked through the 'DFE school 2 school' service.