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Children's Services Transfer Procedure

This chapter was added to this manual in June 2016.


Contents

  1. General Principles
  2. Transfer Process Overview
  3. Joint Working
  4. Re-referrals Within a 3 Month Period of Closure
  5. Out of County Transfer-in Process
  6. Transfer Between Locality Teams
  7. Team Specific Transfer Processes
  8. Managing Allocation Pressures
  9. Checklist for Case Transfer / Closure


1. General Principles

At all times the needs of the child are paramount when considering the transfer process and appropriate point to transfer case responsibility. 

There should be as minimal change of team and worker throughout the duration of Children’s Service involvement as possible.

Throughput of work is essential to maintain access to new referrals. All cases should move to the new team once the transfer point has been reached. Any capacity or allocation issues must be managed by the receiving team, and not hold up the transfer process.

Safe transfer of work means early warning where possible, all relevant tasks completed, forward dates clearly identified, and all parties informed.


2. Transfer Process Overview

The allocated worker must complete the tasks identified by their manager, ensure the case records are up to date and in good order, (including a current pen picture of the child and their circumstances where appropriate) and get the work signed off by their manager. The chronology must be updated within the last 2 weeks before transfer.

The transfer of case responsibility should take place at key points within the Journey of the Child, e.g. Initial Child Protection Conference, LAC review, CIN Planning meeting, Step-down meeting. Both the transferring and receiving team should be represented at this meeting to ensure full awareness and involvement in the plan to move the case forward.

The relevant Team Manager must notify the receiving Team Manager of the date of the meeting where the case is to transfer at the earliest opportunity to enable team planning. For children’s social care teams, an activity (Request of Case Transfer) must be assigned to the receiving team’s desktop to inform them of the date they will become case accountable. For social care teams transferring to Early Help Teams, a NEHFF Request for Support form must be completed after the case has been discussed at the bi-monthly Early Help Case Transfer meeting and prior to the step-down meeting. An Activity stating the name and contact details of the new worker (FSP Lead) should be sent to NEHFF at the point of closure.

Ongoing liaison should take place between the transferring and receiving manager to support an effective transfer process. Within children’s social work teams, transfers should be completed on the electronic recording system by Team Managers with the receiving manager allocating the transferred case immediately to a suitably qualified worker by updating the system network (allocations) to ensure that the new worker is now the Primary Worker and the receiving team is the Primary Team. Within Early Help teams, the allocated worker will be designated on the Early Help case management system.

The ethos of a child-centred case transfer process, to which all workers and their managers must commit, is dependent on a collaborative approach between teams always placing consistency of service to the child and family as the first consideration.

A problem-solving approach between teams is essential, an approach that seeks to resolve any potential for dispute about the transfer. In the event of a failure to resolve the dispute, the Team Manager should speak to their Head of Service. In rare and exceptional cases, the matter will be referred to the relevant Assistant Director whose decision will be binding.


3. Joint Working Cases

There may be times when it is the child’s best interest for a period of joint working to be undertaken but within social care teams there must always be a Primary Worker and Primary Team that have the lead accountability for a case with the other Worker (and her/his Team) being designated as a Co-Worker. The key areas of joint working between social care teams are as follows:

  • Where a case has been allocated to a newly qualified social worker in the Norfolk Institute of Practice Excellence (NIPE) and child protection concerns become apparent, or the child needs to be accommodated, the case should be re-allocated to a more experienced Social Worker in the relevant team. The newly qualified worker should continue to co-work the case to support the transition for the child and their family and gain experience of child protection/LAC case work. NQSWs may also, by agreement between managers, co-work established child protection and LAC cases where this facilitates good learning opportunities;
  • Within the context of Care Proceedings where the final Care Plan is likely to be adoption or long-term fostering, the FIT Social Worker will be the Primary Worker throughout the care proceedings but a co-working relationship with the connected LAC social worker will commence where a plan for adoption or long-term fostering is identified. The only exception to this is where adoption is the plan and a match has been identified. These children will stay with the FIT teams until the Adoption Order unless there is a significant delay in the Oder being granted. The purpose of the co-working arrangement is for the LAC social worker to start to build a relationship with the child and their family to support ongoing work beyond the final hearing. They will need to be consulted about all aspects of the care planning (including the Child Permanence Report in the case of adoption). On appointment the LAC Social Worker will work alongside the FIT Social Worker (and NAS Worker in the case of an adoption plan). However, the responsibility for completing all aspects of documentation related to the child during the care proceedings, including seeing the child, will remain with the FIT Social worker. The point of transfer to the LAC Social Worker will be within 5 working days of the Final Hearing (or the Issues Resolution Hearing should the care proceedings conclude at this earlier stage). At this point the LAC Social Worker will become the Primary Worker and the LAC Team the Primary Team;
  • For a Looked After Child already in care who becomes ‘eligible’ for a leaving care service at the age of 16, a Leaving Care Personal Advisor will be appointed as a Co-Worker at the point that the Pathway Plan Needs Assessment commences with the LAC Social Worker remaining the Primary Worker and the LAC Team the Primary Team until the young person reaches the age of 18. The purpose of this co-working relationship is for the Personal Advisor to build up a good relationship with the young person and help them start thinking about their long-term future goals and how to achieve them. The PA will become the Primary Worker and the Leaving Care Team the primary team when the young person turns 18;
  • For a child with a disability, the CWD Social Worker will become the Primary Social Worker and the CWD Team the Primary Team for that child. There may be occasions where the child’s siblings (or other members of the household) are open to Social Workers in the Assessment, FIT or LAC Social Work Teams. In these cases, there therefore will be 2 Primary Social Workers and 2 Primary Teams for the same family and a joint case planning approach is essential from the start of the intervention;
  • Referrals from expecting mothers wishing to relinquish their unborn baby should be referred to the Assessment Team as soon as the pregnancy is viable or at the earliest point possible if referred after 16 weeks, but an Adoption Support social worker should co-work the case to ensure swift placement of the baby (foster to adopt) where this continues to be the plan;
  • Other important co-working relationships will exist with workers in the Norfolk Fostering Service, the Norfolk Adoption Service, Independent Reviewing Services, Youth Offending Team, the Home Based Support, Supervised Contact Service and Child and Family Therapeutic Team, and with Adult Services Teams. The Primary Social Worker for the child will remain in the relevant Assessment, FIT, LAC or Leaving Care teams.

The fundamental principle is that there can only be one case accountable worker and team for a child, with any other workers cited as co-workers on the electronic system.


4. Re-referrals Within a 3 Month Period of Closure

Cases which are re-referred back to Children’s Services for statutory intervention within a three month period after closure must still be triaged by MASH. If the nature of the concerns reaches threshold and was closed within the last 3 months, the case must be assigned to the team who last held the case. The only team exception to this is NIPE, due to the nature and turnover of staff therein. However, if it is a new concern that requires an urgent/emergency response, the case should be allocated to the relevant Assessment Team to ensure concerns can be managed swiftly in line with child protection procedures.


5. Out of County Transfer-in Process

The process for transferring cases to Norfolk from other Local Authorities is via the MASH. Families whose move to Norfolk is permanent and where concerns for the children meet the threshold will be managed in the usual way. Children with child protection plans who make a permanent move to Norfolk will be allocated to the Assessment team to book the Transfer-in Conference (notifying the FIT team manager) and manage any short term risks prior to transfer to FIT at the conference. The transferring team will be expected to provide the current child protection plan and any previous child protection reports, an up to date assessment/risk assessment of the transition and chronology to inform the Assessment Team and Conference. The resulting plan from the transfer-in conference will inform further work undertaken by FIT including further assessment required.

Children temporarily living in Norfolk should not be accepted as referrals if they are registered as ‘children in need’ in another local authority. However, necessary duty visits can and should be negotiated between the relevant authority and the Assessment team where the children are temporarily based where this is in the child’s best interests. Visits should be recorded on the electronic recording system as ‘observations’ and shared with the relevant allocated worker and team from the out of County authority. 


6. Transfer Between Locality Teams

Cases will only be transferred between Locality Teams where it is identified that the child is likely to remain resident in accommodation in the new Locality for at least 6 months or more. This does not negate co-working relationships between the Primary worker and Primary team and the team where the child is temporarily resident to ensure that logistical barriers do not adversely affect the quality of service. The overriding principle is to ensure continuity of Social Worker for the child and family.

For children in LAC teams, the child’s Primary Team will remain the Team which covers the child’s original home address and the Primary Social Worker will be allocated on this basis to ensure links are maintained with the child’s family and/or community of origin. Again, the overriding principle is to ensure continuity of Social Worker for the child and family. There may be occasional cases (such as where the child’s Social Worker is leaving and the child’s family may have moved) where inter-Locality transfer is justified but these should be the exception and not the rule.


7. Team Specific Transfer Processes

 See Team Specific Transfer Processes table.

Please note that Children with Disabilities (CWD) Fieldwork Teams provide their specialist service within the functions of Assessment, Family Intervention and Looked After Children Teams to ensure as little change as possible for disabled children and their families. While including these teams in the below, it should be recognised that the CWD fieldwork teams and social workers will retain case allocation from Assessment through to Leaving Care/transitioning to Adult Social Care, where the child and their family meet the threshold for those services. The step-up/step-down process for CWD fieldwork teams and the Disabled Children Access and Services Team (AST) is currently under review (2016).


8. Managing Allocation Pressures

The overriding principle for Norfolk Children’s Services is that is that all statutory cases should be allocated to ensure those children who are assessed as the most vulnerable and meet the threshold criteria are allocated to a suitably qualified worker.

Therefore there will be no statutory cases unallocated.

All cases where children are subject of a child protection plan or are a Looked After Child must be allocated. This must be a matter of priority. Where this is challenging, it must be flagged up with the Head of Service who will look to allocate elsewhere in the service. CSLT must also be notified.

Delays in allocating cases should be kept to a minimum. Where delays occur in allocation families should be kept informed about the duration of any delay. Professionals working with the family should also be informed about any delay in allocation of the case and advised about progress in achieving allocation.

Any periods where there are likely to be future or actual delays in allocating child protection or CLA cases must be reported to all senior managers including the Director of Children’s Services.

Managers need to ensure effective monitoring of workloads across teams and services and ensure discussions about workload and workflow are discussed in supervision. Staffing issues, capacity, and fluctuations of work should be pre-empted where possible to ensure there are no delays in allocation of cases. Where persistent difficulty is evident both the Director Children’s Services and the Lead Member need to be advised.


9. Checklist for Case Transfer/Closure

Before case transfer or closure, relevant assessments must be shared with children, families and the professionals involved. All professionals involved must be notified of the transfer or closure and reason for it alongside children and families. On the electronic recording system, all personal details, network details, and classifications must be up to date and payments ceased where appropriate. Assessments and activities must be completed and an up to date chronology attached to the electronic record. Reason for transfer/closure must be clear within the most recent assessment or in the closure form. Any paper records must be properly filed and their location recorded on the electronic record. CiN Episode and data protection episode must be closed before case closure.

End