Transfer Protocol for Cases Transferring between Children's Social Care Teams


In January 2019, this guidance was reviewed throughout and updated as required to reflect local arrangements for the transfer of cases between different Children's Social Care teams.

1. Introduction

The general aim of the transfer protocol is for cases to move swiftly to the team best equipped to deal with them keeping the welfare of the child at the centre.

As a rule, the MAST (Multi-Agency Screening Team) provides advice to referrers and has responsibility for making decisions about whether a case meets the criteria for Children's Social Care involvement. Cases should not stay with MAST for any longer than necessary, and certainly no longer than 36 hours. The only exception is requests for Section 7 and Section 37 reports, which may be allocated in the MAST team for up to a week.

The function of the CAT (Children's Assessment Team) is to provide crisis and initial support to new cases and undertake high quality assessments to determine whether medium to longer term social work intervention is required.

The function of all other teams is to undertake on-going work with children and families requiring medium to longer term intervention, including Children in Need, those subject to Child Protection Plans and Children Looked After.

2. Transfer Process between MAST and CAT/Locality Teams

Once a decision has been made that a case meets the criteria for Children's Social Care intervention, a case should be transferred from the MAST to CAT as soon as possible. This is generally after the referral has been completed or in cases where there are concerns about Significant Harm, after the Strategy Discussion has been completed.

If any child protection concerns are identified or immediate actions is required, there should always be a discussion with the relevant Team Manager or Practice Manager within the team receiving the referral. All other cases will be allocated to the relevant team inbox and emails sent to the relevant managers and administration.

The exception applies in the following cases:

  • Private Fostering Assessment - If the referral is clear this is requested, and checks with the referrer establish child is living with a non-relative, the referral can be passed immediately to relevant locality team.

    Should an initial visit by CAT establish that there is a Private Fostering arrangement in place, CAT will collect initial details and complete the chronology, and then complete a transfer request. A joint visit will not be required as the family will be advised that a Child and Family Singe Assessment and Private Fostering Assessment will be completed by the relevant locality team;
  • In the case of a Section 7 or a Section 37 request on a closed case either to locality or CAT, MAST will at the outset establish and, where appropriate, challenge whether this is an appropriate request to Social care. This may mean that a case is allocated to a member of staff in the MAST to undertake this task. Once the need for a report has been established, the referral will pass immediately to the relevant locality team;
  • Step parent adoptions will be transferred immediately at the referral stage to the relevant locality team;
  • Non Agency Adoptions will be passed to One Adoption West Yorkshire at the Referral stage;
  • Incoming Child Protection Conference requests from other local authorities will be transferred immediately at the referral stage to the relevant locality team;
  • Incoming Child in Need Requests from other local authorities will be transferred immediately at the referral stage from MAST to the relevant locality team.

When a new case is referred and a sibling or other child in the same household already has an allocated worker the case will transfer to that team. This will not apply to cases where the child is a Child Looked After and the court proceedings have been concluded.

The 3 month rule applies on all cases that have closed within this period of time and will be allocated to the relevant pod / team. This applies to cases even when the presenting reason is different to the previous involvement or the previous worker is not available for re allocation. The continuity this offers children and families is beneficial in on-going working relationships with assessments being updated and the previous worker / manager already having knowledge of the family background.

3. Transfer Process between CAT and Locality / CLA Teams

Case transfers will take place at the weekly transfer meeting. All work presented to the transfer meeting must have been quality assured by the manager requesting transfer prior to the meeting.

  • Where a Section 47 case is moving to the Initial Child Protection Conference, the case is transferred at the Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC).

    At the point of CAT receiving the date for the ICPC, the relevant locality Team Manager will also be invited. CAT will immediately complete a brief overview of the case and whether a CP or CIN Plan is required within the transfer summary to be completed within 1 working day. CAT will ensure they have completed the Child and Family Single Assessment /S47/chronology/ICPC report and shared with the family and that all this work will be completed by the end of the day prior to the conference. A locality team representative will attend the conference; if a social worker is not available then a PM/AP or Team Manager will attend, unless a different arrangement has been negotiated between the Team Managers.

    The case will transfer at this point whether the outcome is CP or CIN and the locality team will be responsible for the Core Group and any further tasks.

    The decision on whether a joint visit is appropriate will be dependent on how long the case has been open. However, if the decision to conference has been at the conclusion of the Child and Family Single Assessment then a joint visit would be good practice unless the children are under 3 years. Should both parents not attend the conference arrangements will be made to visit the family jointly within 3 days.

    There is a potential that some cases may not be ready for the day of conference. If this is the case the relevant locality team will inform both service managers/CAT Team Manager and there will be a clear plan with that worker that whatever the outstanding task is will be completed within 2 days.
  • In cases, where CAT has undertaken a pre-birth assessment, the case will transfer to the locality teams, if a plan is required to support the child as per any other transfer point;
  • Where the Child and Family Single Assessment undertaken by CAT indicates that a Child in Need plan is required at the end of the assessment, the case transfers at the Child in Need planning meeting following the completion of the assessment and agreement at the transfer meeting. Child in Need plans may be led by either the locality team or the FIT team and agreement about which team is most appropriate will be reached at the transfer meeting prior to the child in need planning meeting. CAT will chair the child in need planning meeting. The Locality Team/FIT Team will be responsible for completing the plan;
  • Where the proposed plan is for a child to become Looked After via proceedings, the case is transferred at the first Child Looked After Review. All other relevant meetings before and after the review will be jointly attended;
  • All cases where a child / young person has become Looked After through the assessment process will transfer to CLA. This is with the exception where it has been identified through permanency planning and at the Gateway Panel that permanency for the child / young person is to return home within a set period of weeks through a period of social work support. Such cases will transfer to the locality social work teams;
  • Where a child becomes a looked after following section 20 accommodation, the normal transfer point is at the first Looked After Review. However, where rehabilitation is proactively being pursued at this point and a case transfer would risk disrupting the process, the most appropriate point of transfer should be negotiated between Team Managers.

Transfer Process between Locality Teams and the Children's Looked After Team

Case transfers will take place at the weekly transfer meeting. All work presented to the transfer meeting must have been quality assured by the manager requesting transfer prior to the meeting.

Cases' transferring to the Children's Looked After Team must be children who have been made subject to a Care Order within a court final hearing. Transfer will only take place once this final court order has been made and the local authority's permanency plan has been agreed by the court.

Permanency plans will include those for; adoption, local authority care in either a fostering or residential placement, those in placed with a parent and those placed with an extended family member under the fostering regulations as approved foster carers.

The point of case transfer is the Permanence Planning Meeting following the final court hearing.

As part of best practice the Team Managers within the Locality and Children's Looked After Team should consider:

  • The Children's Looked After Team should be given advance notice to cases that will be transferring form Locality Teams prior to the Final court hearing;
  • Where appropriate both Team Managers can agree periods of co-working prior to case transfer and attendance at specific meetings where planning for permanence is being agreed and formulated.

At the very minimum there should be a joint visit to the child / young person at their placement by both the allocated locality social worker and the identified social worker in the Children's Looked After Team.

4. Transfer to the Disabled Children's Team (DCT)

All relevant cases will be discussed with the DCT Team Manager to establish if the criteria for transfer has been met. Once agreed the routes above will apply regarding whether the child is subject to Child in Need, Child Protection or Child Looked After.

5. Transfer to the Pathways Team

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (USAC)

When a child presents or is referred as a USAC a worker from both CAT and Pathways will undertake an initial age assessment screening. Should the child be deemed under 18 years of age then they must be accommodated by the local authority under Section 20. Permission to accommodate must be sought by the relevant Service Manager which is usually the MAST/CAT/CSE/EDT Service Manager, who will inform the Assistant Director for overall permission.

If the child is deemed under 16 years of age, CAT will take case responsibility and place the child in a suitable placement. If the child is deemed over 16 years of age the Pathways Team will take case responsibility and place the child in a suitable placement or accommodation. The relevant service will be responsible for all assessments or identified work from that initial age screening meeting.

The child must be referred to the next Gateway Panel, however as the local authority must accommodate under Section 20 all USAC's the social worker will not need to attend the Gateway Panel. The Service Manager who made the decision to accommodate outside of Gateway will authorise and approve the Gateway application.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs