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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Allocation of Work and Transfer between Teams

AMENDMENT

In January 2019, this chapter was reviewed and updated. It should be re-read throughout.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Overarching Principles
  3. Transfer principles
  4. Initial Contacts/New Referrals
  5. Child and Family Assessments
  6. Transfer Points
  7. Hospital Assessment Team Involvement
  8. Cases Transferring to LAC/LC for Leaving Care Services
  9. UASC
  10. Ceasing CSC involvement
  11. Housing
  12. Adoption Support Team
  13. Children's Disability Service
  14. Restricted Access Cases

    Appendix 1: Terms of Reference for Children and Young People's Pathway Resource Allocation Panel (or RAP)

    Appendix 2: Kingfisher Team Processes and Workflow

    Appendix 3: From Arrival to Case Closure - processes for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASCs)

    Appendix 4: Key Worker Protocol

    Appendix 5: Letter to OLA re Transfer-in Conference Requests

1. Introduction

This protocol sets out arrangements for case management responsibilities within, and transfers between, teams within Children's Services.

The purpose of this document is to:

  • Clarify case management responsibilities, interface and transfer arrangements between operational teams in Children's Services;
  • Provide guidance as to which teams/service areas cases should transfer to;
  • Identify appropriate transfer times;
  • Identify processes for dealing with workload and threshold issues;
  • Reduce the number of changes in key worker for children and their families;
  • Develop seamless transitions.

2. Overarching Principles

The child remains firmly at the centre whilst interventions change in response to needs and different practitioners move in and out of their lives.

The needs of the child and their parents/carers are paramount and take precedence over organisational and administrative considerations. This means that there will be exceptions to the guidelines outlined within this document. Where this is the case, decisions should be negotiated between relevant Team Managers. In exceptional cases, where agreement cannot be reached, the escalation process should be used, and the matter referred to the relevant senior manager, who will decide which team holds responsibility and document this on the child's case record.

3. Transfer principles

  • The Terms of Reference for the Children's Pathway Resource Allocation Panel, (known as RAP) sets out principles and process relating to transfers within Children's Services and can be found at Appendix 1, together with the allocation and transfer format;
  • The number of changes of key worker for a child and family should be kept to the minimum possible, and this should remain an underlying principle;
  • At least two weeks' notice should be given of the need to transfer a case from one team to another. On occasion, this can be difficult for Assessment Teams to predict, but should be adhered to as much as possible;
  • The RAP is the forum for case transfers within children's services. RAP meetings take place weekly in North, Central and South and are chaired by Family Solutions Service Managers;
  • Membership of the RAP comprises Family Solutions Service managers (FSS); Children and Family Assessment Team manager (CAFAT); Early Help managers; Locality and Community Support Service Manager (LCSS); Residential and Edge of Care (REOC); CAMHS; Health; Young Carers; Education, Employment and Training (EET); Education Inclusion. Looked After Children/Leaving Care (LAC/LC); Disability; Kingfisher; Hospital Team attend where required;
  • Cases will be presented at RAP following discussion between Team Managers or their representatives and all documentation will be completed on the electronic case file including RAP episode, plans and a significant events chronology prior to case transfer. Team Managers can use the transfer checklist for this purpose, which is on the electronic case file;
  • Transferring team send all cases with a proposal for transition to the allocated administrator 3 days before the RAP;
  • Cases are presented by the current allocated Social Worker. Presentation will give clear a clear outline of the case including strengths, concerns, risk analysis and reasons for proposed actions/plan;
  • Complimentary information provided by RAP members e.g. CAMHS, Health, Education will be considered within the RAP meeting and will assist in agreeing transfer and plan;
  • RAP agree case transfer;
  • Where the initial plan changes due to information provided during the RAP meeting all RAP members should agree and reasons must be documented;
  • Before the case is transferred the transferring Team Manager should quality assure the case file to ensure that the appropriate documents are in place including an update date assessment with outline plan and significant events chronology;
  • Cases should be transferred to the appropriate Team Manager without delay;
  • Where there are workload issues, cases will be accepted by the receiving team and discussed with the Area Social Care Manager for decisions about priorities/allocation within the team (see Appendix 4: Key Worker Protocol);
  • Where the agreed plan is for a case to transition to Universal Services/TAF and there is a complexity of need that requires LCSS support, the allocated Social Worker must contact LCSS ATM to discuss. These cases do not need to be presented at RAP.

4. Initial Contacts/New Referrals

The MASH (Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub) receive immediate safeguarding concerns about children. Following a triage process, those that require a Child and Family assessment (C&F Assessment) are passed to the Assessment teams for action.

The exceptions to this are:

  • Cases not closed on the electronic case file. These will be treated as open and returned to the last-named worker or team, using the Significant Contact on an Open Case episode;
  • Cases returning within 6 weeks of the closure date on the electronic case file. These will be recorded in a Contact and Referral episode by the MASH. The receiving Team Manager will be notified and the case will be transferred to the last-named worker or team. This does not apply to Looked After Children who have been rehabilitated at home and supported by the CLA team in their homes for 3 months.

5. Child and Family Assessments

The Assessment teams will complete a Child and Family Assessment on all new referrals where appropriate.

The depth and breadth of assessment required will be determined by the social worker and their manager, dependent on the presenting needs of the child, and the complexity of the circumstances. For example, the following circumstances are likely to need the most in-depth assessments, where children:

  • Become Looked After;
  • Are the subject of S47 Enquiries and an Initial Child Protection Case Conference;
  • Have complex needs, which require inter-agency planning and core planning processes;
  • Are identified as at risk of child sexual exploitation;
  • Are the subject of a specialist assessment for children with disabilities (disability assessments are completed by the Children's Disability teams);
  • Are the subject of Care Proceedings and permanence planning;
  • Are the subject of Leaving Care pathway planning.

Completion of Child and Family Assessments may also be required on open cases, particularly at transition points when the child's changing needs and circumstances indicate further assessment is required. Therefore, Child and Family Assessments can also be the responsibility of other teams including Family Support, Disabled Children, and Looked After Children/Leaving Care teams.

The Assessment Teams will take responsibility for completion of Child and Family Assessments when cases are escalating within Early Help Teams and have either not received an assessment or have not had one completed within the past 6 months. In such cases a CAFAT worker will hold responsibility for completion of assessments with input from the Early Help worker.

Child Protection Investigations

If the Child and Family Assessment is being carried out as part of a Child Protection Investigation, the Strategy Discussion and Section 47 Enquiry will be carried out in parallel with the C&F Assessment. The Child and Family Assessment will be completed, once the outcome of the Section 47 Enquiry is known. If the decision is to progress the case to Initial Child Protection Conference, the Child and Family Assessment will be the report to the Conference.

The Assessment Team will be responsible for the completion of the Child and Family Assessment on new child protection referrals.

Where the Section 47 Enquiry is being conducted on open Early Help cases where a child protection incident has occurred, the Assessment Team will take responsibility for co-ordination and completion of the Section 47 with input from the Early Help team. The Assessment Team will also take responsibility for the co-ordination and completion of the Child and Family Assessment with input from the Early Help team.
Where a case held by Early Help is escalating, it will be managed between Early Help and FSS teams unless there is no Child and Family Assessment at all or it is over 6 months old in which case it would be managed by the Assessment Team.

Where a Section 47 enquiry is being conducted on an open statutory case where an incident has occurred, the chairing of the Strategy meeting will be agreed between CAFAT and the case holding team. It is the responsibility of the case holding team to complete the Section 47 in a timely manner.

Where a Section 47 enquiry is being conducted on an open statutory case where the situation is escalating rather than a specific incident having occurred, the responsibility for the management of the strategy meeting and ensuing section 47 will be that of the case holding team.

It is expected that the Assessment Teams are available for consultations on potential child protection matters and will provide workers to attend strategy meetings as required.

Next steps

Following the Child and Family Assessment, the Assessment team will:

  • Arrange a Team Around the Family (TAF) if appropriate or advise on alternative support available within community resources (with or without LCSS support);
  • Undertake specialist assessments (e.g. young people's housing assessments);
  • S47 investigations, sex offender risk assessments;
  • Pre-birth risk assessments (see Pre-birth Risk Assessment);
  • Where a Child Protection Plan or Child in Need Plan is required, transfer to the appropriate team at one of the identified transfer points within an integrated approach. All case transfers will be presented to the local RAP.

6. Transfer Points

Transition points generate vulnerabilities in case management and disruption for families. Good practice is to plan transfers between teams and coordinate social work staff to minimise change for families and to promote good outcomes. The Assessment Team will notify the receiving team at least two weeks in advance of the need to transfer a case to the receiving team. Regular case discussion between the Team Managers will take place to agree the arrangements for transfer.

6.1 Children in Need

If a Child in Need Plan is identified, the transfer point will be at an Initial Child in Need Core Group meeting.   

Guidance:
  • Discussion and agreement between the transferring team and the receiving team to agree plans and timescales;
  • The receiving team manager will chair this meeting in complex cases, or designate the social worker to chair the meeting in less complex cases. The Assessment Team social worker will attend;
  • The allocated worker from the receiving team will be responsibility for inputting the plan on the electronic case file;
  • Assessment teams will inform families and referrers of the outcome and basic information concerning the new team (name of team, team manager, address, and telephone number);
  • Assessment team will close their involvement on the electronic case file and enter transfer details. Receiving team managers must be aware of the transfer before amending the electronic case file.

6.2 Transfer-in Child in Need

Requests for transfer-in children in need are received by the MASH. The MASH will send out a standard letter giving details of the receiving team manager and requesting the following information to be sent to the receiving team.

  • A copy of the current Child in Need Plan. The plan must be detailed with clear timescales and outcomes;
  • Copies of all previous Child In Need Meeting minutes;
  • An up to date Chronology of significant events;
  • Up to date single assessments for each subject child;
  • A Viability Assessment of carers (if applicable), which must include PNC (Police National Computer) and DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks. This is necessary if children are placed with family members/carers. We will not accept cases where children are placed by the transferring authority in unregulated placements;
  • Copies of all child protection conference minutes if the child/ren were previously subject to child protection plans;
  • Copy of legal planning meeting minutes if the child/ren were previously considered at legal planning meeting. 

A child in need transfer meeting will need to be convened to progress transfer; this will be arranged jointly with the receiving team once the required documentation has been received. It is expected that the allocated social worker, significant family members and involved partner agencies involved will attend. Please be aware that if the allocated social worker is not available, whether a duty social worker can be sent to represent the transferring team will be at the discretion of the receiving team manager, and the transfer meeting may need to be rearranged.

  • At least 48 hours before the Child in Need Transfer Meeting, an updated report needs to be sent to the Team Manager, having been shared with the family prior to this;
  • At this meeting consideration will be given as to whether the case could step down to a "Team Around the Family" approach and if this is the case, our Locality and Community Support Team (LCSS) will pick up case responsibility following the transfer meeting. If you think it is likely that the case could step-down to a non-statutory targeted support approach, please let the Team Manager know before the meeting, and an LCSS representative can be invited to attend.

6.3 Child Protection Conferences

Cases requiring a Child Protection Conference will remain with the Assessment teams until Conference although Family Support Teams will become involved as soon as possible. New social workers should meet the family before conference where possible and contribute to the development of the plan.

Guidance:
  • On completion of the Section 47 Enquiry, Assessment teams will liaise with the receiving Team Manager and Independent Chair. The process is for the CAFAT worker to email the Independent Chairs who will consider the information from the strategy meeting and section 47 episodes and discuss further with the social work team;
  • If the need for a Conference is agreed Independent Chair will arrange an Initial Conference within prescribed time frames (15 days of Strategy Discussion where S47 investigation was begun);
  • The Assessment team will discuss the case with receiving team and inform them of the Conference date as soon as it is known. The Assessment Team will notify the RAP of the intention to transfer the case;
  • The Assessment team will provide the Conference report (i.e. the completed Child and Family Assessment document) incorporating the Genogram, Chronology, risk assessment and proposed protection plan. The receiving team will attend the Conference;
  • Cases will transfer to the new worker following the Conference;
  • Following the Conference, the Assessment team should:
    • Write to child, parent/carer with information concerning the new team (name of key worker/contact person, address, and telephone number);
    • Close their involvement on the electronic case file and enter transfer details.

6.4 Transfer-in Child Protection Conferences

Requests for transfer-in children are received by the MASH. The MASH will re-direct requests to the appropriate local Family Solutions Service (FSS) statutory team. It is expected that the FSS team will enter the information onto the electronic case file and notify the Independent Chairs Team if temporary registration is required.

To enable a decision can be made about whether a transfer-in conference is required, the relevant documentation should be requested by the FSS team from the open local authority (OLA):

  • A copy of the current Child Protection Plan;
  • Copies of all previous Child Protection Case Conference minutes;
  • A copy of the last Core Group meeting minutes;
  • A current risk assessment reflecting the impact of the family's move;
  • At least 48 hours before Transfer In conference, updated report for Transfer In Child Protection Case Conference provided for Independent Chair and Team Manager, having been shared with family.

To facilitate this process a letter will be sent to local authorities by the CCA when they make a request for a conference. See Appendix 5: Letter to OLA re Transfer-in Conference Requests.

A decision about whether to accept the case for a Transfer-in Conference will then be made. The Independent Chair will be pro-active in assessing the documentation prior to the Conference. 

6.5 Child Sexual Exploitation cases and Kingfisher Team

See Appendix 2: Kingfisher Team Processes and Workflow.

6.6 Looked After Children (Section 20)

The completion of movement and financial assessments forms are the responsibility of the teams holding case responsibility at the point at which the child becomes Looked After.

Following discussion and on receipt of the relevant the electronic case file request, the Placement Duty Service identifies a placement with all procedural checks/approval etc. in place.

The social worker is required to book a slot for discussion at the Entry to Care panel (see separate guidance).

First Statutory LAC Review (28 day)

If the child is in the Assessment team and is remaining within the Looked After system the case will transfer at the first statutory LAC review. Apart from children who meet the eligibility criteria for disability teams, most children with rehabilitation plans will transfer to the statutory Family Solutions Service. In some cases it may be clear by the first review that a child will not be returning home. In these cases transfer to the LAC/LC team will be appropriate at the first review. In such cases the care plan and review form must reflect the rationale for this decision. The receiving team will become involved prior to transfer and will contribute to the review plan and will attend the review.

See Appendix 3: From Arrival to Case Closure - Processes for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASCs)

If the child becomes Looked After from within the Family Solutions Service, the 28-day review will only trigger a transfer if the same criteria as above are met (i.e. if it is clear at this stage that the child will not return be returning home). The transfer will be planned for the second review (4 months), when the care plan is clear that the child (ren) should remain looked after. The documentation must reflect a plan for permanence/longer term care.

Guidance: The Assessment team

  • Set up the 28 day statutory review and invite the relevant parties;
  • Complete a Child and Family Assessment, the Care and Placement Plans, and the Social Worker's report to LAC Review. The decision about which team to transfer to will remain with the Assessment team and will be dependent on the Child and Family Assessment and subsequent planning;
  • Following the statutory review, the Assessment team will:
    • Write to child, parent /carer with information concerning the new team (key worker/contact person, address, and telephone number);
    • Close their involvement on the electronic case file and enter transfer details.

6.7 Court - Children Subject to Care Proceedings

General

N.B. The Public Law Outline provides the legal framework for this work. Care proceedings will be initiated when it is considered children should be removed from home for their protection. Pre-proceedings work may be appropriate as a first step where it is decided that a legal framework is necessary but the plan is not removal from home at that stage. Alternative options to care proceedings should always be considered.

When care proceedings are initiated, the following guidelines will apply:

  • All potential applications (including pre-proceedings) must be agreed by the Area Social Care Manager before referral to Legal Panel and then by the Legal Panel;
  • If the Assessment Team is taking a case to court they will liaise with the Family Solutions Service as early as possible and plan to transfer at the first hearing. The receiving social worker should be identified prior to the hearing date;
  • The IRO team needs to be notified as soon as possible by the team holding the case that proceedings have been initiated and a named IRO allocated within 2 days of the ICO hearing if the child becomes LAC;
  • Legal Proceedings commenced in the Family Solutions Service will remain with the team until the final hearing;
  • Joint work with the LAC team will commence at the point when the decision for permanence is agreed by the Adoption and Permanence Panel or, in cases of contested adoption plans, by the Adoption Agency Decision-Maker. At this point the LAC/LC team will proceed with the statutory LAC processes and procedures, including family finding, working together with the Family Support Teams towards the final hearing and agreed transfer point;
  • The LAC/LC SW should where possible be involved in the development of the Child Permanence Report and should have some direct contact with the child during this period to support the transfer of the case after the final hearing. This will need to be agreed between the teams according to what is possible and what will be in the best interest of the child/young person. The child's best interests are paramount.  
Interim Care Order/Care/Placement Orders

The team holding the case will initiate court proceedings and provide reports, ensure there is an up to date Child and Family Assessment, Chronology and Care Plan for the interim care hearings. The FS team will be responsible for all interim statements and Care Plans, further assessments (as required) and final care plan to court.

Guidance:

  • The LAC/LC team should work together to support the FS team at the point where permanent alternative care is the likely outcome (twin track planning). This will depend on the individual case and identified issues/needs;
  • At planned transfer points the receiving team will be present at the court hearing. Both the current and the receiving teams should be represented at the final hearing if the case is to transfer from FS to LAC/LC;
  • Following the court hearing when a case is transferring, the transferring team will:
    • Write to child, parent/carer with information concerning the new team  (key worker/ contact person, address, and telephone number) and placement details if appropriate;
    • Close their involvement on the electronic case file and enter transfer details.
Secure Order Applications on care grounds

In situations where teams apply for secure orders on young people they will:

  • Seek initial approval (following discussion with Area Social Care Manager) from the Deputy Director for a secure order application for 72 hours;
  • Liaise with the placement duty service which will identify a suitable placement;
  • Complete all the necessary reports for both the placement and the court hearing;
  • Where appropriate (e.g. case in the Assessment team and assessed as requiring longer term work) receiving Team Manager to be alerted at the earliest opportunity;
  • Ensure that the case is discussed at Entry to Care Panel.

Following the granting of a secure order on care grounds, the holding team will set up and chair the LAC 72 hour placement meeting and complete the appropriate LAC documentation.

Where the Assessment team has instigated the court proceedings, case to transfer to the Family Support team at the first review although the receiving team should be engaged in the process to support the transition process

If a case transfer is required, the Assessment team should:

  • Write to child, parent/carer with information identifying the new team (key worker, address, and telephone number of the team) and placement details (if appropriate);
  • End this involvement on the electronic case file and enter transfer details.

7. Hospital Assessment Team Involvement

Child Protection

The JR hospital team will manage and coordinate investigations on cases already open to another team, where the child/young person is admitted to hospital with a significant injury (see Protocol for the Management of Child Protection Assessments on Open Cases where Children are Admitted to John Radcliffe Hospital - link available from the electronic case file, Tools).

Pre-Birth Risk Assessment

Priority for Pre-Birth assessments to be completed by the hospital team will be on cases not currently open or previously known to Children's Social Care.

Referrals to the JR Assessment team will also be considered in the following cases.

  • Assessment of pregnant young women living apart from their family where it is the family members that are the focus of social work involvement;
  • Pre-birth assessment where previous children have been removed and there is a need to reassess parent's capacity to care for the unborn baby;
  • Where there are significant concerns about a care leaver and/ or their partner's parenting abilities. The referring team will continue to provide 'leaving care' services;
  • Kingfisher Cases- the referring team will continue to provide Kingfisher casework

The Assessment team based at John Radcliffe Hospital will also provide:

  • Consultations and advice on pre-birth risk assessments;
  • Liaison with hospital staff;
  • Planning around hospital stays/delivery;
  • Contributions to CPCC and core group meetings in complex cases with hospital involvement;
  • Cases involving a home delivery should be allocated within the Community Assessment teams. Such cases should be discussed with the Hospital Team Manager in the first instance.

Timescales

Pre-birth assessments will be allocated as early as is practicable and will commence at no later than 20 weeks gestation.

Transfer of casework from the JR Hospital Assessment Team

  • Children in need/Team around the family;
  • Mid-way review of ongoing pre-birth assessment at 22-23 weeks' gestation will identify the need for ongoing CIN intervention or TAF support to the family;
  • Referral to Resource Allocation Panel made at 23 weeks gestation for transfer to FSS as CIN (statutory team) or TAF (EH);
  • RAP agreement for transfer no later than 27 weeks' gestation/13 weeks before EDD;
  • FSS receiving team identifies EH Practitioner/ statutory SW for ongoing intervention;
  • CIN transfer meeting/TAF transfer meeting is convened to take place no later than 29 weeks' gestation/11 weeks before EDD;
  • Transfer to FSS to commence intervention by 10 weeks before EDD;
  • Child Protection planning;
  • Strategy meeting when safeguarding concerns are identified, may be convened following referral to the JR team, during pre- birth assessment, or as an outcome of pre-birth assessment; as such strategy meeting to take place at no later than 26 weeks gestation/14 weeks before EDD;
  • Referral made to RAP following strategy meeting;
  • FSS SW identified following RAP and before ICPC;
  • ICPC to be convened no later than 28 weeks gestation/12 weeks before EDD;
  • FSS receiving team SW to attend ICPC if possible;
  • First core group takes place at 30 weeks' gestation – FSS receiving team to attend;
  • Second core group takes place at 36 weeks gestation; FSS receiving team SW to attend;
  • Joint working FSS SW and JR SW from 37 weeks' gestation to birth;
  • Transfer to FSS at discharge planning meeting;
  • Pre-proceedings;
  • Pre-birth ICPC convened within timescales set out above, including RAP referral;
  • Request to Legal Panel – to be made no later than 12 weeks before EDD;
  • Pre-proceedings meeting to take place within 2 weeks of decision at Legal Panel for pre-proceedings, no later than 10 weeks before EDD;
  • FSS receiving team SW identified following RAP to attend pre-proceedings meeting;
  • Transfer to FSS at pre-proceedings meeting;
  • Care proceedings;
  • Pre-birth ICPC convened within timescales set out above, including RAP referral;
  • Request to attend Legal Panel; to be made as early as possible;
  • Request to attend Entry to Care Panel to be made directly following decision at Legal Panel to issue care proceedings at birth, and no later than 6 weeks before EDD;
  • JR SW to prepare Local Authority evidence for application before EDD;
  • JR SW to attend Entry to Care Panel for placement;
  • Local Authority to issue application at birth;
  • FSS worker to be kept updated re application and care planning;
  • Case transfer to FSS to be made at first Hearing.

There is no equivalent service set up at the Horton Hospital, Banbury. The current expectation is that for cases where the birth plan is not held by the JR Hospital team, the relevant area team will take responsibility for the pre-birth assessment and plan.

8. Cases Transferring to LAC/LC for Leaving Care Services

If a child is relevant/former relevant or qualifies for LC status and support they will transfer to the LAC/LC team at the appropriate point. Identified cases will be discussed prior to transfer.

9. UASC

The Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) Team will undertake all assessments/age assessments of new arrivals (see Appendix 3: From Arrival to Case Closure - Processes for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASCs))

All under 16s will become 'Looked After' children and will be placed with Foster Carers. After 28 days the first review will take place alongside a Child and Family Assessment.

Young people deemed to be 16+ will also be accommodated but placed in independent supported accommodation. When deemed appropriate by the UASC team prior to the young person's 18th birthday, the case will be transferred to the Looked After and Leaving Care team to ensure smooth transfer at 18.

Any child protection issue will be referred to the UASC Team manager, who will co-ordinate and minute a S47 strategy meeting. The case will remain open to the key worker/team for the Looked After Child. The Assessment Team are available for consultations on potential child protection matters and will provide workers to attend strategy meetings as required.

Guidance:

When transferring a case, the UASC team will update the electronic file prior transfer.

10. Residential and Edge of Care Service (REOC)

In line with the Placement Strategy's overall aim of keeping "Oxfordshire's riskiest and most vulnerable closest" the REoC service offers an intensive therapeutic, behavioural and practical, flexible community support package for families on the edge of care.

Non-LAC Children

For a referral to be considered for REoC intervention the worker must have assessed that without intensive intervention and support the child is highly likely to come into care because of family breakdown. If accepted the referral will then be prioritised for allocation and timescales discussed with the social worker.

Factors to consider are:

  • The child may be displaying extreme behaviour, which is directly related to their emotional well-being and ability (or lack of) to regulate their emotions;
  • Although REoC can work with children of any age, area teams have requested it prioritises risky and vulnerable adolescents;
  • The family are in a period of crisis;
  • The child has been excluded or is not engaging in education;
  • The allocated social worker will continue to have case responsibility during REoC intervention;
  • The family needs to know the referral is being made and sign up to a family support contract.

Disability

Where social workers from the area or disability teams consider that a child with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome needs intensive support to avoid the risk of family breakdown a referral should be made to REoC for consideration. If accepted the referral will then be prioritised for allocation and timescales discussed with the social worker.

Kingfisher

Where social workers from the Kingfisher team consider that a child open to them requires additional intensive support to avoid the risk of family breakdown a referral should be made to REoC for consideration. If accepted the referral will then be prioritised for allocation and timescales discussed with the social worker. There is also the possibility of supporting a child back home from an out of county placement and this will need to be reviewed within the context of the care plan and considered against the commissioned placements agreement with Oxfordshire and must include involvement from the Placement Service.

Supporting placement stability for LAC/LC Children

For a referral to be considered for REoC intervention the social worker must have assessed that the child and/or primary care providers are likely to continue a negative trajectory towards placement breakdown if intensive support is not provided to stabilise the placement. If accepted the referral will then be prioritised for allocation and timescales discussed with the social worker.

The factors to consider are:

  • The child may be displaying extreme behaviour, which is directly related to their emotional well-being and ability (or lack of) to regulate their emotions;
  • An adoptive or foster placement has already broken down, but there is an assessment that the situation may be repairable with an intensive support package;
  • The allocated social worker will continue to have case responsibility during REoC intervention and the role of the supervising social worker for the foster carer remains unchanged;
  • The carers and key professionals such as the supervising social worker and IRO need to know the referral is being made and sign up to any placement stabilisation and support agreement.

Planned transitions from residential to foster care or reunification with family.

For a referral to be considered for REoC intervention the social worker must have assessed that without intensive assessment, intervention and support the step-down process will not be successful. If accepted the referral will then be prioritised for allocation and timescales discussed with the social worker.

The factors to consider are:

  • Step down from residential to fostering or reunification with family has been recommended through the care/pathway planning process;
  • On referral the REoC clinical team will need to formulate an intensive support plan that all parties agree is likely to improve outcomes and achieve a successful and sustainable reunification with the family linking in with other clinicians where required e.g. ATTACH/CAMHS.

11. Ceasing CSC involvement

All teams planning to cease working with a child and family should consider a TAF as part of a structured step-down plan. See Appendix 1: Terms of Reference for Children and Young People's Pathway Resource Allocation Panel (or RAP).

Cases from any team being re-referred within 6 weeks if ceasing involvement will remain the responsibility of the last responsible team. The exception to this would be if the referral reason required a new Child and Family Assessment e.g. on a different sibling or because of a new type of concern. If a social worker receives new information on a closed case, it is the responsibility of the social worker receiving the information to discuss it with their team manager and agree if the case should be referred to the MASH and/or re-opened.

Cases where the LAC team has ceased involvement following a child's rehabilitation home should be received by the Assessment Team and a planned transfer back to the LAC team made if it is less than 3 months since the rehabilitation plan was implemented, and the reasons for referral are of a similar nature.

12. Housing

Young People aged 16/17 who present to children's services because they are homeless ("Southwark ruling") will be assessed under a Young Person's Housing Assessment (also known as Joint Housing Assessment). This assessment will be completed by a worker in the Assessment teams, and held by this worker until the first review. At this point they will be transferred to the worker within the LAC/LC team who has specialist responsibility for housing, regardless of legal status i.e. S17 and S20).

Guidance:

See Protocol for Assessing and Supporting Homeless 16 and 17 year olds in Oxfordshire Procedure

All LAC recording should be completed in the usual way and a full support package in place prior to transfer.

13. Adoption Support Team

When the Adoption Support team is working with adoptive families and there is a danger of family breakdown, the Adoption Support Team Manager will discuss with the relevant team manager, and agree action required.   

14. Children's Disability Service

When a request is received by the Assessment team for a Disability Assessment the Assessment team duty senior will discuss the purpose of the contact/referral with the referrer to establish whether there are any safeguarding concerns or imminent risk of placement breakdown: in these cases the Child and Family Assessment remains the responsibility of the Assessment team. The Assessment team duty worker also needs to advise the referrer of alternative support options available in the community and to check whether these have been explored before deciding whether a Specialist Disability Assessment is required. Once it is clear that there are no specific safeguarding issues and a community support plan would not be appropriate the case can progress for a Specialist Disability Assessment (which will be completed using the Child and Family Assessment).  The contact/referral should be discussed with the Children's Disability Team Manager before the case is transferred to the area CD team. Assessments for children with High functioning autism/aspergers and for children with mild learning disability or a lesser physical disability e.g. hemiplegia are not undertaken by the Disability teams.

The CD teams will retain case responsibility where the child has permanent and substantial impairments and who require attention and supervision substantially in excess of that normally required by a child of the same age. These are children who have a moderate to severe learning disability and/or a significant physical disability.

Children who are diagnosed with Asperger's or high functioning Autism and who require on-going social work support e.g. around safe management of behaviour, work around parenting or placements will be transferred to the Family Solutions Teams by the Assessment Teams. The case transfer will be managed using the guidance re transferring CIN and Early Help cases.

N.B. In order to ensure that specialist care packages are equitably allocated the multi-agency Priority Panel should be used to benchmark care packages allocated to disabled children, including those with HF autism/Asperger's, who do not meet the eligibility criteria for case management within the disability teams. If parents opt to access agreed care packages via direct payments, the social worker can be supported by the Disability Service to set up the direct payment processes but the payments must be funded by the team managing the child's case (see Children's Disability Service and the Multi Agency Priority Panel Process - Eligibility Criteria and Service Allocation Guidelines for Community Support/Short Break Care Procedure).


Supporting Young People who are Looked After, or Leaving Care or on the Edge of Care to Participate in Learning and Move into EET


Young Carers and EET


Youth Justice Service (YJS) Education, Employment and Training (EET) Pathway

16. Restricted Access Cases

If a member of the child's immediate family e.g. parent/grandparent/sibling is working in a post in the receiving team the team manager will need to approach a team in another area to transfer the case.

If a family link is identified in an area office then the team manager will need to restrict access to the case record and take responsibility for managing confidentiality and anonymity.

If the team manager believes the case cannot be managed in an area office using established processes and procedures agreement should be sought from the Area Social Care Manager to agree transfer to another area and time scales.

Appendix 1: Terms of Reference for Children and Young People's Pathway Resource Allocation Panel (or RAP)

Overarching Principle

That the child remains firmly at the centre whilst interventions change in response to needs and different practitioners move in and out of their lives.

Aim

Universal, Targeted and Specialist interventions aim to improve outcomes for children by strengthening the resilience of children and their families, by reducing the risk factors associated with poor outcomes, and by preventing and protecting from harm.

Purpose

  • The ultimate aim is to provide smooth transitions to the appropriate service/team in a timely and informed way;
  • To agree planned transition and allocation processes on a multi-professional basis, which is both timely and appropriate to need and to ensure a single plan is developed;
  • To extend existing information sharing to provide robust multi-agency defensible decision making.

1. Process

1.1 Prior to Transfer Meeting

Children's Services sends all cases with a proposal for transition to the allocated administrator (currently EH) 3 working days before the transition panel.

  • North meeting occurs every Wednesday;
  • City meeting occurs every Thursday;
  • South meeting occurs every Friday.

Children's Services will include all identifying information of the family; case synopsis; and the date of the next planning meeting e.g. TAF; CIN. A minimum of two weeks' notice is required to ensure attendance at planning meetings.

Administrator will add all information to the transition template which is used in the transition meeting.

Any information provided by CAMHS/YOS/ Young Carers; REOC; Health is included in the update section

The referring team will identify a nominated person to quality assure the information being presented to panel. Information needs to be clear and concise but needs to capture the essential information and proposed plan.

1.2 Transition Meeting

Transfer from CAFAT to FSS (Stat)

Case to be presented by the current allocated Social Worker. Presentation will give a clear outline of the case including strengths; concerns and risk analysis and reasons for proposed plans/actions.

EH/CAMHS/YOS/ Young Carers/REOC/Health will provide any information known to them.

Plan/action will be agreed and the name of the Social Worker to be allocated the case will be given where possible.

Possible complimentary involvement of EH; CAMHS; YOS; REOC; Health; Young Carers will be discussed where appropriate.

Transfer from CAFAT/FSS/ LAC/LC/Disability/Hospital team/Kingfisher (Stat) to EH or Universal Services.

For an intervention or an assessment that does not meet or no longer meets the CSC threshold (CAFAT/FSS- Stat), discussion will take place regarding the appropriateness of Early Help involvement or step down to universal services.

The case will be presented by the current allocated Social Worker. Presentation will give a clear outline of the case including strengths; concerns and risk analysis and reasons for proposed plans/actions.

Plan/action will be agreed and the name of the service identified. The name of the allocated worker the case will transfer to will be given where possible.

Where the agreed plan is for the case to transition to universal services/ TAF and there is a complexity of need that requires LCSS support, allocated worker must contact LCSS ATM to discuss. LCSS ATM will oversee this in conjunction with the allocated Social Worker/EH worker. These cases do not need to be heard at RAP.

2. Working Agreement

2.1 Information Sharing

Information sharing is on a need to know basis and with the consent (where applicable) of children, young people and their families.

2.2 Recording

Decisions made at transition meetings are recorded by the administrator and sent out to attendees within 48 hours.

Relevant systems are updated with the discussions and agreed actions by the services involved in the transition meeting.

2.3 Venue and Frequency

Meetings will take place on a weekly basis. For essential attendance venue's will be Knights Court; Abbey House; and Samuelson House.

3. Membership

All to attend every meeting:

  • Early Help Manager from each relevant team;
  • LCSS Assistant Team Manager;
  • CAFAT Team Manager;
  • FSS Manager (Stat);
  • REOC;
  • CAHMS;
  • YOS;
  • Health (HV Lead);
  • Young Carers;
  • EET;
  • Administrator;
  • LAC/LC/Disability/ Kingfisher/ Hospital Team where required;
  • Education Inclusion Service;
  • FGC.

Glossary of Terms:

FSS Family Support Service (Stat and EH)
EH Early Help within the Family Support Service (formally known as Early Intervention Service)
Stat Statutory Team within Family Support Service
CAFAT Children's and Families Assessment Team
LCSS Locality and Community Support Service
REOC Residential Edge of Care
LAC Looked after Children Team
LC Leaving Care Team
FGC Family Group Conference
HV Health Visitor
YOS Youth Offending Service
CAMHS Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service

Review

Reviewed August 2013 and subject to further review in February 2014.


Children's Services Pathway

Appendix 2: Kingfisher Team Processes and Workflow

Referrals can come into Kingfisher team from a variety of routes, including screening tools completed by children's services teams or other agencies, MASH or self-referrals.

Kingfisher will also provide a duty/consultation service should the outcome of such a consultation be a referral, callers should be directed to the Assessment teams.

Where there are low level concerns and the threshold for open cases within the Kingfisher team is not met, cases may be signposted on to other support services, e.g. Donnington Doorstep.

Strategy meetings

Where referrals need to be progressed and action taken, a multi-agency strategy meeting will be convened and chaired by the Detective Sergeant, the Team Manager or the Senior Practitioner.

Outcomes could include a S47 investigation, a single assessment (or transfer from Kingfisher to a team around a child/family (TAF or another service provider.

Health

All children referred to Kingfisher where action is needed, will be offered a general health check by the health worker.  This might lead to advice on contraception, terminations or treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) other specialist health services will be identified and contacted where appropriate.

Conferences

Multi-agency conferences will be convened following a S47 investigation or an assessment.  As a result, children may be made subject to a child protection plan or a child in need plan.  All such plans will be reviewed in accordance with CP procedures.  Child in need plans will include a sub category for 'children at risk of sexual exploitation'.  Conferences will be convened, chaired and reviewed by the Independent Chair who will operate fully within the Kingfisher team.  However, they will remain 'independent' and, therefore, able to provide challenge by participating in meetings and training opportunities within the Safeguarding team of the Independent Chairs (ICS) and Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs).

Looked After Children and Care Proceedings

A child may become subject to care proceedings through an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) or a Police Protection Order (PPO) or should care proceedings be initiated by Kingfisher. The case can remain with Kingfisher or transfer to Family Solutions Service with or without work by Kingfisher. Core groups will review progress and decide if and when Kingfisher can cease their involvement.

Should a child be accommodated under S20 Kingfisher will continue to provide the key worker beyond the first review in the majority of cases. An Independent Reviewing Officer will continue to chair LAC reviews.

Legal Proceedings

Should the plan agreed at conference or following a S47 investigation be to seek agreement for care proceedings the usual guidance should be followed, including booking the case into Legal Panel and Edge of Care Panel.

Electronic case file

All work undertaken by the Kingfisher team will be recorded on electronic case file in accordance with usual practice, using CSE as the referral code, outcome from the Child and Family Assessment and as a category on CIN, LAC and CP plans.

Transfers

Although the Kingfisher team will usually remain involved for longer than the Children's Assessment teams there will need to be some throughput of work if the team is to be able to focus on children most at risk.

In some cases, children may be transferred in relation to case responsibility although the worker from Kingfisher may remain involved if there is a significant relationship with the child.

Therapeutic Work

The Step-out Project will provide one to one as well as group support to victims. It is hoped that this project will be extended by adding another project worker as well as a parent's worker in the future. There will be fast track access to CAMHS where appropriate and individual needs will be assessed and support purchased where necessary, e.g. play therapy. Elmore currently offer a follow up service for over 18s CSE victims who need and want on-going support.

Criminal Proceedings

Where appropriate (in cases where there is sufficient evidence) criminal proceedings will be progressed by Thames Valley Police within Kingfisher in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and where relevant the Serious Crimes Team.


Appendix 3: From Arrival to Case Closure - Processes for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASCs)

This summary identifies the main pieces of work, responsibilities and transfer points.

Work completed by Assessment Team

  • After an initial referral is made, the UASC team will assess the need for support for the young person. This usually involves a Merton-compliant age assessment, which is completed by two workers within six weeks of arrival;
  • UASCs need to be supported under the Children Act 1989 Section 20 (due to the Hillingdon Judgement), unless they are assessed as actually not being unaccompanied, then Section 17 of the Children Act can be used, or the Southwark Ruling if the situation is a family breakdown;
  • Once a young person is accepted as a UASC by the Directorate, relevant people are informed by UASC Team;
  • UASC Team will then support the young person until appropriate to be transferred to one of the area-based LAC/LC teams.

Budgets

  • UASCs are supported by the Home Office budget, rather than individual team budgets;
  • The Home Office need to accept that a young person is a UASC in order for OCC to receive this funding. LAC and LC Team Administrator is responsible for liaising with the Home Office about the grant money for UASCs;
  • In certain circumstances, a young person, who is accepted as a UASC and then finds a family member, may remain a UASC and funding still be provided by the Home Office, for example if that family member can show they cannot be financially responsible for the young person;
  • A young person who has immigration issues and is going through family breakdown cannot be supported as a UASC because they have been supported by family previously so would not be accepted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) onto the UASC grant claim, so we would receive no funding for them. Young people in this situation can be supported under Section 17 or the Southwark Ruling.

Age disputes

  • Where UASCs dispute their age assessments they will be advised to speak to their solicitor about this. Asylum Welcome are able to provide information about available solicitors;
  • Advice should be sought from Legal Department when dealing with age disputes).

UASCs under 16

These young people will be placed in foster care in a placement found by the Placement Duty Services.

Tasks that UASC Team will carry out:

  • Care plan;
  • Placement plan and placement planning meeting;
  • Consent to medical treatment form, alongside an initial referral to the LAC health team;
  • LAC visit;
  • Subsequent LAC visit;
  • PEP;
  • Following of immigration process;

Tasks that need to be done by the foster carers:

  • Purchasing of a suitable wardrobe of clothes;
  • Health appointments including TB screening at the Churchill Hospital, and Initial Health Assessment;
  • Support with any immigration appointments;
  • Registration with leisure services - gym, library;
  • Orientation into the local area;
  • Support in attending the Orientation Programme;
  • School uniform shopping.

UASCs over 16

These young people will be housed in the supported housing pathway, or other appropriate placement.

Asylum process

  • All UASCs need to claim asylum to comply with the law and ensure we receive UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) grant money for them. This has to be undertake in twelve weeks.

Some UASCs will have already claimed asylum before they come to CEF. If not, they all need to claim asylum as swiftly as possible.

Summary of electronic case file tasks and documents completed by UASC prior to case transfer to other teams
  • LAC visits - within one week and then within the first month;
  • Age assessment - stand-alone piece of work;
  • Child and Family Assessment - stand-alone piece of work;
  • Placement Plan;
  • Care Plan - if the young person is 16+, this will pull through into the Care/Pathway Plan where relevant;
  • Chronology;
  • PEP core document.
Transition at 18 for young people with five years humanitarian protection or refugee status
  • The usual procedures for a citizen young person should be followed;
  • CEF is no longer financially responsible, so the young person will need to apply for welfare benefits;
  • A Young Person's Housing Assessment needs to be completed prior to their 18th birthday and sent to Oxford City Council.
Transition at 18 for young people who had leave to remain until they were 17.5 years old, and have applied for further leave to remain
  • CEF remains financially responsible until the young person's leave to remain is confirmed.
Transition at 18 for young people who are ARE
  • Human rights assessment completed;
  • Transfer onto the ARE financial policy.

Appendix 4: Key Worker Protocol

Definition of key worker

Assessment, child protection, child in need and looked after child cases -

  1. All cases allocated for assessment or a service post-assessment must have an allocated key worker, who holds case responsibility;
  2. In cases of CP and LAC the key worker must be qualified social worker;
  3. The allocated key worker will have the appropriate grade (9) and level of experience, commensurate with the type of work being undertaken and within Oxfordshire children's services this could be CIN casework, EH casework, EET casework and be undertaken by different service areas such as REOC residential or outreach element;
  4. Leaving Care Personal Advisors (LCPA) may become the key worker for looked after children and young people only if they are qualified social workers, and have the appropriate level of experience;
  5. LCPAs may be the key worker for young people who are care leavers (that is, young people aged 16-18 who qualify for leaving care services, and who were previously looked after under section 20; and care leavers over 18 who were previously subject to care orders);
  6. Direct Payments Workers (DPW) may be the key worker, under the supervision of the Team Manager, in specific circumstances - after the assessment is completed and a child in need plan is in place, and no additional services other than direct payments are required;
  7. Student social workers (SSW) may not be the key worker for cases with which they are working. Their supervising social worker will be the key worker;
  8. Newly qualified social workers (NQSW) who are not yet registered with HPC may not be the key worker. The supervising social worker/senior practitioner will be the key worker. 

Recording of key worker status on electronic case file

  • It is the Team Manager and Children and Family Centre Manager (or their delegate's) responsibility to allocate and de-allocate the key worker and reassign case responsibility on the electronic case file;
  • Following referral and the decision to proceed to assessment, a key worker must be allocated without delay;
  • At transfer points, the key worker must remain allocated until the case is transferred and signed off by the transferring manager. If it is not possible to allocate a key worker for any reason a discussion must occur between transferring and receiving manager about the status of case and the case must be identified as unallocated, by using the "awaiting allocation" worker relationship;
  • If the key worker is the LCPA or DP, their status should be entered on to the electronic case file twice, to show them as both "key worker" and "LCPA" or "DPW"; If a SSW or NQSW (until registration) is working with a case, they should be recorded as an "involved worker", and the supervisory social worker should be recorded as both "key worker" and as "supervisory social worker".

Appendix 5: Letter to OLA re Transfer-in Conference Requests

Click here to view Appendix 5: Letter to OLA re Transfer-in Conference Requests.