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 s 47 enquiry.
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.:
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.
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 (see Child Protection Conferences Procedure) 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 Resolving Practitioner Disagreements and Escalation of Concerns 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:
The social worker's line manager will:
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 have suffered, or 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.
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:
The Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) will:
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.
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:
The relevant Children's social care team will:
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 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.
Local agencies and professionals should bear in mind when working with children and families where there are outstanding concerns about the children's safety and welfare, including where the concerns are about an unborn child who may be likely to suffer Significant Harm, that a series of missed appointments may indicate that the family has moved out of the area or overseas. Children's social care and the police should be informed immediately when such concerns arise.
Where a child subject of a Child Protection Plan moves abroad whether planned or unplanned the Lead Social Worker and Conference Chair should consider whether to reconvene a Review Conference or Core Group to determine what action to take. Appropriate steps should be taken to inform the relevant local and overseas authorities in the country to which the child has moved of any concerns.
Consideration needs to be given to appropriate legal interventions, where it appears that a child, who has outstanding child protection concerns about their safety and welfare, may be removed from the UK by his/her family in order to avoid the involvement of agencies with safeguarding responsibilities. This also applies when a child, who is subject to a care order, has been removed from the UK. Children's social care, the Police Child Abuse Investigation Team and the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit at the Ministry of Justice should be informed immediately.
In the case of children taken overseas it may be appropriate to contact the Consular Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which offers assistance to British nationals in distress overseas (020 7008 1500). They may be able to follow up a case through their consular post(s) in the country concerned.
Only valid for 48hrs