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1.4.14 Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries / Abroad

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.

AMENDMENT

In December 2016 a new Section 5, Moving Abroad, was added to provide guidance for professionals who have concerns that a child they are working with (for whom there are outstanding welfare concerns) has been taken abroad.


Contents

  1. Movement of Children and Families
  2. Ensuring Continued Access to Universal Services
  3. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm
  4. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan
  5. Moving Abroad
  6. Issues


1. Movement of Children and Families

At any stage in the process of working with children and 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 well 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 or even as a deliberate attempt to avoid the involvement of professionals and agencies. In these circumstances, the agencies involved must assess the impact on the child/children of the change in circumstances.

The 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.

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.


2. Ensuring Continued Access to Universal Services

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, in the new area as soon as possible.

  • 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.
  • Provide information about relevant services; and
  • Always 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.

REMEMBER - Whenever a child or family moves, the priority should be securing support from universal services for the family in the new area.


3. Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm

Where there are concerns about risk of Significant Harm, information should be shared immediately as all information about a child should be held in the area where the child is currently 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, the local authority where the concerns originated should make decisions as to how to proceed. 

In these circumstances, therefore, the originating authority must continue with the Section 47 Enquiry and should convene a Strategy Discussion/Meeting - this should take place within 72 hours of notification of the child’s move. Timescales may be varied depending on the individual circumstances e.g. 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. The social worker from the originating authority will attend and provide a report for the Child Protection Conference.

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 Services 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 Services 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;
  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the child’s electronic record.

The social worker’s line manager will:

  • Inform the relevant team manager in the receiving authority of the current details and forward any relevant documentation;
  • Agree any urgent action and roles and responsibilities;
  • Agree the convening of a Strategy Meeting within 72 hours.

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 are 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.


4. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan

4.1 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 Services 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 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:

  • 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.

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. 

4.2 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:

  • 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 Services 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 Services 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 if there are concerns about Significant Harm in the new area and work with the child and family to prepare for the Initial Child Protection Conference.

4.3 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 Services 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

Whenever professionals are working with a family and there are outstanding concerns about a child or unborn baby’s safety or welfare, and they suspect that a family may have moved overseas, Children's Social Care Services and the Police should be informed immediately.

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 concerns in relation to 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. Children's Social Care Services, 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.


6. Issues

Uncertainty about whether the move is permanent or temporary can cause delay in the transfer of the case and the allocation of services to support the family in the new area. Fundamentally, the child becomes the responsibility of the area where they reside, regardless of the length of time they have been there.

The transfer of some agency records can be delayed until there is a request from the new provider of a service. It is unlikely that GP records will be transferred until the family have been registered with their new surgery for some time.

In addition to sharing information about any safeguarding concerns, the priority for professionals should be creating support for the family in the new area from universal services. This includes registering the child and a new school roll and registering with a GP.

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