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1.3.23 Children and Families Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries


Contents

  1. Movement of Children and Families
  2. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm
  3. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan
  4. Temporary Moves
  5. Moving Abroad
  6. Moves for Children for whom Welfare needs have been Identified but no Safeguarding Concerns
  7. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns who move to a different Local Authority
  8. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns who are Ordinarily Resident in a different Authority
  9. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns where the Receiving Authority cannot be Identified/is unknown

    Amendments to this Chapter


1. Movement of Children and Families

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 practitioners and workers involved with the family and child/children. See details in Notifications and Transferring of Information Procedure.

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

Additionally, the following circumstances associated with children and families moving across boundaries may be a cause for concern:

  • A child and family, or pregnant woman, not being registered with a GP;
  • A child not having a school place or whose attendance is irregular;
  • A child or family having no fixed abode e.g. living temporarily with friends, relatives or in a refuge;

Several agencies holding information about the child and family, which is not co-ordinated and / or which has not followed the child or family i.e. information which is missing or has gaps and needs to be collated.

Where children move to a new address - either within the same local authority area or to a new area – and there are concerns about the welfare of the children such that it is considered that a Section 47 Enquiry is required, the local authority for the last known address must make every effort to locate the children and complete the s 47 enquiry.

Practitioners in all agencies should be alert to the possibility that a child or family who has moved may not be in receipt of universal services. Practitioners should engage with the family in order to link them into local universal services, e.g.:

  • Seeking information about the child / family (full names, dates of birth, previous address, GP's name, if attending any school, name of health visitor etc);

    For this purpose, practitioners should:
    • Ensure that all forenames and surnames used by the family are provided, and clarification is obtained about the correct spelling;
    • Ensure that accurate dates and places of birth are obtained for all household members, wherever possible;
    • Obtain the previous full addresses, and earlier addresses within the last two years;
    • Clarify relationships between the child and other household members, if possible with documentary evidence;
    • Ask the child / family with which statutory or voluntary organisations they are in contact.
  • Providing information about relevant services;
  • Following up to ensure that the family has managed to make contact and register with a local GP, school, Health Visitor (for pre-school children) and other relevant services to which the child is entitled;
  • Engaging appropriately with relevant agencies regarding any concerns that emerge.

The child’s move may be temporary or permanent. If the parent is not prepared to give information or take advice, the receiving authority should assume the move is permanent and act accordingly.


2. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm

Work with children and their families may be taking place in the context of a Section 47 Enquiry which may be in progress when the child/children and family moves to another local authority area.

Each agency has 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 practitioners (in partnership with parents and children whenever possible and particularly where the move is known and planned) as to how the information is best shared with the new area.

However, in all cases, information should be shared immediately as all information about a child should be held where the child is residing.

Where a child moves across local authority boundaries, and a Section 47 Enquiry (see Investigating Child Protection Concerns Procedure) is being considered or is in progress and/or a Child Protection Conference (see Child Protection Conferences) is proposed but has not yet taken place, it is the responsibility of the local authority where the concerns originated to make decisions as to how to proceed.

It is normally advisable that assessments or particular pieces of work are concluded before transfer of case responsibility takes place.

In these circumstances, therefore, the originating authority must continue with the Section 47 Enquiry and should arrange a Strategy Discussion - this will usually take place within 72 hours of notification of the child’s move. However, the timescales may be different depending on the individual circumstances e.g. the geographical proximity of the two areas and/or the gravity of the situation. In all circumstances, however, the Strategy Discussion will always involve representatives of both the originating and the receiving authority and their respective roles and responsibilities will be agreed. The Strategy Discussion should consider how the timescales for the completion of the Section 47 Enquiry and holding of the Child Protection Conference (if appropriate) will be met. In any case, the social worker from the originating authority will attend and provide a report for the Child Protection Conference.

Where there are any practitioner disagreements about any of the planned actions, these should be referred to the relevant senior managers in the two authorities for their agreement. Any such agreement must be in writing and circulated to all the practitioners involved. If the practitioner differences remain unresolved, please refer to the Escalation Policy.

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is in progress, as soon as the originating authority becomes aware of the child’s move to a new area, the following action should be taken:

The child’s social worker will:

  • Notify the Children’s Social Care in the receiving authority of the change in the child’s circumstances within one working day of discovering the move;
  • Send the child’s relevant personal details to Children’s Social Care in the receiving authority;
  • Inform his or her line manager of the change;
  • Inform any other agencies working with the family of the change in circumstances and ask them to inform their colleagues in the new area;
  • Attend any handover meetings in the receiving authority.

The social worker’s line manager will:

  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the child’s electronic record;
  • Inform the relevant team manager in the receiving authority of the current details and forward any relevant documentation such as copies of the most recent Child in Need Plan and/or a summary of the assessment so far;
  • Agree any need for urgent action and, if urgent action is required, agree which local authority will take such action;
  • Agree the convening of a Strategy Discussion within 72 hours;
  • Discuss with the relevant team manager in the receiving authority at what stage responsibility for the child should be transferred.

Particular care and attention must be paid where the family has a history of moving between areas and the timing of their moves appears to suggest that they are seeking to avoid the child protection process.

If children and families about whom there are concerns move and cannot be contacted, this in itself will heighten such concerns and lead practitioners to consider that the children may be at risk of 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. The responsibility for the family will remain with the local authority for the area of the child’s last known address.


3. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan

3.1 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 or, if not available, the Lead Social Worker’s line manager.

The Lead Social Worker will:

  • Immediately inform the Children’s Social Care 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;
  • Inform the ‘home’ Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) of the changes;
  • Inform the Core Group members of the change in circumstances;
  • Attend any Initial Child Protection Conference in the new area.

The Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) will:

  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the List of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  • Inform the new area’s Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) of the current details and forward any relevant documentation such as copies of minutes of the Initial Child Protection Conference and the most recent Review Conference;
  • Inform the local Designated Nurse of the relevant information in order for the health agencies in the new area to be informed;
  • Inform the GP, and Health Visitor (for pre-school children).

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 List of Children who have a Child Protection Plan in the original area.

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

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

At the point of notification, the Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) or their nominated representative in the child’s new area will be expected to:

  • Place the child’s name, address and relevant known personal details on the List of Children with a Child Protection Plan;
  • Request information from the originating Local Authority, including copies of the Initial Child Protection Conference and the last Review Conference minutes from the originating area;
  • Inform the relevant Children’s Social Care Services team of the details of the incoming child;
  • Inform the Designated Nurse;
  • Make arrangements to hold an Initial 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 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 Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) and forward a copy of the Conference Minutes for their records.

The relevant Children’s Social Care team will:

  • Undertake enquiries to ensure that protective action is taken in order to safeguard the child in the new area until the Initial Child Protection Conference has taken place;
  • Undertake an assessment to determine whether the child has suffered,or is likely to suffer,significant harm in the new area and work with the child and family to prepare for the Initial Child Protection Conference.


4. 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 Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) and the Children’s Social Care team where the child is temporarily resident, providing them with the relevant personal details and the last Child Protection Plan;
  • The ‘home’ Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) must write to the Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) in the area of the temporary residence and include any relevant information.
The child‘s name and details will remain on the List of Children subject to Child Protection Plans in the permanent home area until the criteria for discontinuing the Child Protection Plan are met.


5. Moving Abroad

Local agencies and practitioners should bear in mind when working with children and families where there are outstanding concerns about the children's safety and welfare (including where the concerns are about an unborn child who may be at future risk of significant harm), that a series of missed appointments may indicate that the family has moved out of the area or overseas. Dorset  Children's social care and the police should be informed immediately when such concerns arise.

Where a child subject of a Child Protection Plan moves abroad whether planned or unplanned the Lead Social Worker and Conference Chair should consider whether to reconvene a Review Conference or Core Group to determine what action to take. Appropriate steps should be taken to inform the relevant local and overseas authorities in the country to which the child has moved of any concerns.

Consideration needs to be given to appropriate legal interventions, where it appears that a child, who has outstanding child protection concerns about their safety and welfare, may be removed from the UK by his/her family in order to avoid the involvement of agencies with safeguarding responsibilities. This also applies when a child, who is subject to a care order, has been removed from the UK. Dorset Children's social care, the Police Child Abuse Investigation team and the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit at the Ministry of Justice should be informed immediately.

In the case of children taken overseas it may be appropriate to contact the Consular Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which offers assistance to British nationals in distress overseas (020 7008 0878/1500). They may be able to follow up a case through their consular post(s) in the country concerned.

Once a child has moved abroad permanently subject to the above safeguards they should no longer be subject of a Child Protection Plan in Dorset, Bournemouth or Poole.


6. Moves for Children for whom Welfare needs have been Identified but no Safeguarding Concerns

Whenever a child/young person, for whom on-going needs are identified following an  assessment, moves to another local authority area, it is the responsibility of the originating authority to:

  • Seek and obtain the consent of the parent/carer, and the young person, where appropriate to share information for the purpose of making a referral to the receiving local authority and having achieved this:
    • Confirm in writing any referral to the receiving local authority, within 10 working days, including a copy of the most recent assessment, chronology and any plan as appropriate; and
    • Seek and obtain written confirmation of receipt of the referral information from the receiving local authority.


7. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns who move to a different Local Authority

The originating local authority has a responsibility to ensure that the move to another local authority is appropriately assessed in relation to future risk, e.g.

  • Assessment of the permanence of the move to another Local Authority;
  • Young person moving to a private fostering arrangement which might break down and lead to the child returning or needing to become looked after;
  • Family arrangements that should fall under fostering regulations of a child placed to avoid them becoming looked after;
  • Child / family moving into a situation of risk e.g. moving in with a family known to have CP risks.

This risk assessment should inform a decision about whether the case responsibility should remain with the originating local authority. The principle of the child’s welfare being paramount will sometimes mean that authorities will need to continue work across boundaries for a period.

In all cases the originating local authority should:

  • Notify the receiving Local Authority of the move and whether the originating authority is requesting a transfer of case responsibility;
  • Confirm the referral in writing to the receiving authority as soon as possible and at least within 10 working days of notifying the receiving authority of the move;
  • Enclose copies of all relevant information and documents including; all assessments, the chronology, any plan for the child and any other relevant documentation.


8. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns who are Ordinarily Resident in a different Authority

It is important to note that Section 47 (12) of the Children Act 1989 stipulates that “where a local authority is making enquiries under this section (S47 (1)(b)) with respect to a child who appears to them to be ordinarily resident within the area of another authority they shall consult that other authority who may undertake the necessary enquiries in their place”.

Whenever there are concerns about the welfare of a child/young person, at any stage, i.e.

  • Following receipt of a referral; and/or
  • During subsequent enquiries; and/or
  • Whilst services are being offered to the child/young person/family and that child / young person / family moves from one authority area to another, it is the responsibility of the authority where the child / young person is physically present, regardless of where s/he actually lives, to:
  • Initiate a strategy discussion to decide whether there is evidence to support commencing Section 47 enquiries or to apply for an emergency protection order;
  • Continue with enquiries and/or an assessment;
  • Provide services as appropriate unless appropriate alternative arrangements have been made with Children’s Services in the authority area where the child originates.

In these circumstances, who takes lead responsibility will depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • Where the child is going to continue to be living in the near future;
  • Practical issues such as distance between authority areas; and
  • Whether the allegations relate to a person living or working in the same area as the child is living.

Following completion of any necessary enquiries/assessments by an authority where a child / young person is physically present, a transfer of statutory responsibility to the child’s originating authority, where this is appropriate, should be negotiated at the time the child returns and agreement reached between the authorities as to how the case will be managed before lead responsibility is relinquished.

Such action should be endorsed by a team manager and confirmed in writing with the local authority where the child is ordinarily resident and written confirmation of receipt obtained.


9. Children/Young People about whom there are Welfare Concerns where the Receiving Authority cannot be Identified/is unknown

In a small number of cases, children / young people and their families about whom there are concerns, move between local authority areas, and few or no details of their intended location / future address are known to the agencies. This is particularly likely to occur with travelling families.

In these circumstances a strategy discussion should be held in the originating authority, which in addition to the tasks and purpose of strategy discussions should:

  • Collate information about the current and potential concerns for the child/young person;
  • Determine the degree of concern / potential future risk to the child/young person and as a result;
  • Agree a plan of action setting out:
    • What attempts should be made to establish the location of the child/young person and their family via the tracking of transferred school / health records;
    • To whom the information about the fact the child / young person / family are missing is circulated;
    • Whether a plan to actively trace the child/young person / family should be put in place with the police.

If a child / young person / family is located the notifications above, will be made.


Amendments to this Chapter

This chapter was reviewed and updated in August 2016. Section 1, Movement of Children and Families has been expanded to offer examples of actions by families moving across Local Authority boundaries that may give rise to concern e.g. not registering with a GP or child not being registered with a local school.

End.