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5.11 Children Moving Across Boundaries

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter 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, where there is contact with the family by the statutory agencies, and some degree of concern for the child. The same principles apply, however, where a child moves within a local authority area.

In this chapter, the term 'originating authority' is used to describe the local authority for the area where the family previously lived, and the term 'receiving authority' is used to describe the local authority for the area to which the family has moved.

Where a child moves and the family cannot be located, the Children and Families who go Missing Procedure should also be followed.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

North West Children in Need Moving across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure

North West Notification and Transfer of Children Subject of Child Protection Plans across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure

North West Pre-Care and Care Proceedings Notification and Transfer across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in March 2018 by linking to updated:

  • North West ADCS Protocols: North West Children in Need Moving across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure;
  • North West Notification and Transfer of Children Subject of Child Protection Plans across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure; and
  • North West Pre-Care and Care Proceedings Notification and Transfer across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.


Contents

  1. Movement of Children and Families
  2. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm
  3. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan in the North West Who Move to Live in Another Local Authority Area
  4. Children Subject to a Child in Need Plan in the North West Who Move to Live in Another Local Authority Area


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 professionals and workers involved with the family and child/children.

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

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 Section 47 Enquiry. See also Children and Families who go Missing Procedure.

Professionals 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. Professionals 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 etc);

    For this purpose, professionals 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 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 professionals (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 is being considered or is in progress and/or a Child Protection Conference 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 convene a Strategy Discussion/Meeting - 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/Meeting will always involve representatives of both the originating and the receiving authority and their respective roles and responsibilities will be agreed. The Strategy Discussion/Meeting 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 professional 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 professionals involved. If the professional differences remain unresolved, please refer to the LSCP Escalation Procedure.

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 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 Meeting 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 professionals to consider that the children may be suffering or likely to suffer 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. If the child still cannot be located, the Children and Families who go Missing Procedure should also be followed.


3. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan in the North West Who Move to Live in Another Local Authority Area

Click here to view North West Notification and Transfer of Children Subject to Child Protection Plans Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.


4. Children Subject to a Child in Need Plan in the North West Who Move to Live in Another Local Authority

Click here to view North West Children in Need Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.

End