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1.2.14 Protocol for Transfer between Practice Groups within Children’s Social Care


This chapter was updated in March 2015 to reflect current operational arrangements.


  1. Policy
  2. Transfer Standards
  3. Principles Governing Transfers
  4. Transfer of Cases between Practice Groups
  5. Children with Disabilities

1. Policy

CAPTION: table containing section 1
1.1 Children’s Social Care is constructed into specialist Service areas in order to provide an effective and deliverable service. This inevitably leads to transfer of cases between areas. We will aim to achieve the fewest possible number of transfers and the fewest possible changes in worker for an individual child.
1.2 Transfer of cases will be conducted in a timely fashion, according to defined standards ensuring as much continuity as possible for service users. We aim to provide a "seamless service". The child's journey within the system should be the central concern.
1.3 When cases meet the criteria for transfer, this should take place regardless of capacity issues in the receiving group. Responsibility for managing unallocated cases will rest with the Advanced Practitioner of the receiving group.
1.4 Transfer arrangements will always be mindful of the need to ensure safety of children. It is essential that good quality information is passed from old team to new team to prevent gaps in knowledge and to ensure that the welfare and protection of children is paramount.
1.5 All children on a Child Protection Plan or Looked After must have a named lead worker. Any exception to this must immediately notified to the Head of Quality Assurance.
1.6 Wherever possible, siblings should be allocated within the same practice group in order to co-ordinate services.

2. Transfer Standards

CAPTION: table containing section 2
2.1 The lead social worker in the referring group will ensure that all Mosaic records are in good order at point of transfer and on closure, as follows:
  2.1.1 Core information and Chronology.
  2.1.2 All case recording will be up to date, including C.I.N. CP and CLA visits.
  2.1.3 Key information will be recorded on the Contact sheet (key details).
  2.1.4 Where relevant, Single Assessments will be completed on relevant children in the family and will have been shared with the family and referrer if appropriate.
  2.1.5 In the case of a Child Looked After, a copy of the birth certificate will be retained and scanned or will have been requested.
  2.1.6 In the case of a child Looked After transfer, all ICS LAC documentation must be complete.
  2.1.7 If one child is Looked After but other siblings remain at home, as a minimum a Single Assessment of the other children is on Mosaic.
  2.1.8 Financial agreements are up to date and on ICS and logged with Finance.
  2.1.9 Supervision records are up to date.
  2.1.10 Copies of all current Legal Orders are included.
  2.1.11 Risk Assessments are included where the client is known to pose a risk.

3. Principles Governing Transfer

CAPTION: table containing Principles Governing Transfer
3.1 The decision to transfer a case is taken by the Practice Group Lead (PGL). The decision will be recorded on Mosaic.
3.2 Groups will give as much notice of the transfer as possible – no fewer than 10 working days.
3.3 If there are concerns about the criteria for transfer, then the receiving Practice Group Lead (PGL) should immediately discuss the transfer with the sending manager, agree a course of action and record any change on Mosaic. Any unresolved issues should be raised with the appropriate Head of Service.
3.4 A representative of the receiving group will be invited to any Review, Child Protection Conference or other planning meeting convened by the referring team. Dates should be put on Mosaic wherever possible.
3.5 A manager cannot refuse transfer of a case because the quality of the Mosaic record is not up to the standards defined by Section 2, Transfer Standards.
3.6 On the date of transfer, the Mosaic record will be signed off by the referring Advanced Practitioner using the checklist in Section 2, Transfer Standards and allocated as necessary.
3.7 Where transferred Mosaic records are not up to the required quality standards, the receiving Advanced Practitioner will write to the referring manager, listing the action required to bring the record up to standard. The record will remain with the receiving team.
3.8 The social worker from the referring group responsible prior to transfer will be expected to work on the Mosaic record to bring it up to standard within 2 weeks. If the worker has since left the Department, the Advanced practitioner will need to agree how the missing records can be produced.

4. Transfer of Cases Between Practice Groups

CAPTION: table containing section 4

Children in Need


Transfer of Section 17 Cases from Assessment and Intervention: Child in Need Cases

4.1.1 If as a result of a Single Assessment the Assessment and Intervention (A&I) Service identifies an ongoing need for statutory social work intervention under a Child in Need Plan, this will be provided by the Safeguarding and Family Support (SFS) Service.
4.1.2 The case transfer will be undertaken upon the completion of a Single Assessment. There is a requirement to produce a Child in Need Plan and clear information relating to the agreement and acceptance of the family for ongoing family support work.
4.1.3 Single Assessments conducted in the A&I Service will always end in a Network Meeting. After this the case will be either transferred to SFS, stepped down to the Early Help service or closed.

Children in Need cases will be transferred as follows:

  • The A&I PGL will notify their link SFS PGL by e-mail of the intention to transfer a case. The email will include the date of the CIN review meeting which A&I will set for 10 working days time;
  • The SFS PGLs will operate the same fortnightly rota, with the date of notification determining which SFS set the case will transfer to;
  • The SFS PGL will identify which Practice Group the case will transfer to and notify by email the Advanced Practitioner and Practice Co-ordinator, who will invite the A&I Practice Group to send a representative to present the case at the next Group Supervision, BEFORE the Child In Need review meeting;
  • At the group supervision a joint home visit will be arranged.

The case will transfer at the CIN review meeting.

4.1.5 Network Meetings will be attended by a representative of the receiving SFS group.
4.1.6 Cases transferring from the A&I Service to the SFS service should meet all stated file standards. It is expected that the A&I group will complete the Single Assessment and a Child in Need Plan.

Other cases, which will pass from A&I to the SFS service will be as follows:

  1. Family Assistance Orders;
  2. Ongoing joint funded packages of support where the needs of the children meet the threshold for a Child in Need plan;
  3. Section 7 work beyond the findings of the initial report.
4.1.8 Where a child on CIN plan in another authority moves to Southwark, the case will go to MASH (see Thresholds for Children’s Social Care Safeguarding Services (agreed by Southwark Safeguarding Children Partnership), Southwark MASH). The MASH manager will always discuss the request for transfer-in CIN case with their link SFS PGL - and agree between them if A&I should undertake an updated assessment, or whether direct transfer-in to SFS is preferred.

Private Fostering notifications:

These will go first to MASH and then A&I for a Single Assessment.

When Single Assessment has been completed the case will pass to Safeguarding and family support.


Children in Need of Safeguarding


Cases which transfer from Assessment and Intervention to the Safeguarding and Family Support Service will be as follows:

  1. Children who become subject to a Child Protection Plan at the Initial Child Protection Conference;
  2. Children who are not made subject to a Child Protection Plan at the Initial Child Protection Conference but require services under a Child in Need Plan;
  3. Children requiring ongoing support following a Section 47 Enquiry, which did not go to an Initial Child Protection Conference (e.g. where there is parental agreement) and the threshold for a Child in Need plan is met.

Where A&I decides to hold a Child Protection Conference:

  • The A&I PGL will copy the linked SFS PGLs into every email to QAU requesting a provisional date for an ICPCC at the point a S47 is being opened;
  • The 2 SFS sets linked with each A&I set will operate a fortnightly rota for taking cases - the notification date will determine which SFS Set the case will transfer to;
  • The SFS PGL will decide which Practice Group the case will go to and will notify the Advanced Practitioner and the Practice Co-ordinator, who will include the case on the agenda for the next group supervision BEFORE the ICPCC;
  • A social worker from the A&I group will present the case to the SFS group supervision - and a joint visit will be arranged.
The case will transfer to SFS at the Initial Child Protection Conference.

Transfers to the Safeguarding and Family Support Service will be managed in the following way:

  1. When an Initial Child Protection Conference is called, the point of transfer will be directly following the Conference;
  2. Both services will be represented at the Initial Conference;
  3. The Assessment and Intervention social worker will produce a report for the Initial Conference;
  4. If the Initial Conference is deferred, then the deferred Conference will be the point of transfer;
  5. lf the Initial Conference does not make a Child Protection Plan, the point of transfer will be immediately following the Conference;
  6. If a Section 47 Enquiry/Single Assessment does not recommend an Initial Conference but there is agreement with the family require services under a Child in Need plan, then the transfer will be undertaken, following the completion of the Section 47 Enquiry/Single Assessment as set out above.

Where a Child on CP plan in another authority moves to Southwark, this is notified in the first instance to the Administrative Manager in Quality Assurance for a transfer in conference to be arranged.

The case will then be allocated directly in the Safeguarding and Family Support Service.


Assessment and Intervention: Hospital Referrals

  See also Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure and Pre Birth Assessment Tool Procedure.
4.3.1 The Assessment and Intervention Service will provide a Single Assessment on any family living in Southwark regardless of which hospital the family is referred from. The team will send an acknowledgement of the referral.
4.3.2 Where a child in hospital is of no fixed abode, the Assessment and Intervention Service will assume responsibility in situations where the last known address was in Southwark.
4.3.3 Case responsibility rests with the borough where the family had its last permanent address. The determination of this will be based upon the last fixed or known address of the family. (See London Child Protection Procedures.)
4.3.4 If the last permanent address was not in Southwark, and the family are temporarily based in Southwark, case responsibility rests with Southwark in the first instance. The issue of whether the case should be referred to another local authority will be determined using the guidance regarding Mobile Families provided in the London Child Protection Procedures.

Children Looked After


Assessment and Intervention: Transfer of Section 20 Cases

4.4.1 A Single Assessment completed in Assessment and Intervention should be sufficient to determine whether an early rehabilitation is viable.
4.4.2 If the plan is for the child to be rehabilitated home then the case will transfer from A&I to SFS at the first LAC review. If return home is imminent the case may be retained in A&I for a further period after the first review up to a maximum of a month.

Where the case is held in SFS – the case will transfer to Care service if a return home is not anticipated following a clear provision of social work intervention to enable reunification and when the decision at a LAC review is made for the child to remain Looked After.  

Transfer will be negotiated between Practice Group Leads on a case by case basis.


Care Proceedings / Transfer

4.5.1 The decision to initiate Care Proceedings is made at a Legal Planning Meeting.
4.5.2 Where a case held in Assessment and Intervention enters care proceedings the case would transfer to SFS at the first Hearing which would be attended by representatives of both Practice Groups.
4.5.3 The Safeguarding and Family Support Service will hold the majority of care proceedings. Individual cases will transfer to the Care service at the conclusion of care proceedings if a Care Order is made.

Where children are in care proceedings and the care plan is adoption:

  • Those children where a Placement order has been made, a family is identified and a matching panel is set at the point of the final hearing; will remain allocated in SFS until Adoption Order;
  • Those children who have a Placement Order made but no family identified will transfer to the Permanence Services. 

Relinquished babies to go straight to the Permanence Service. Where there is uncertainty about relinquishment the case needs to be jointly worked from the earliest point possible between the Permanence Service and the relevant team until such a point as relinquishment is clear.

Where a Care plan for adoption is changed to long term care, SFS or the Permanence Service will discharge the Placement Order and the case will then transfer to Care service at a point agreed between PGL’s.

Where a child in care (S20) returns home:

The Care service will hold a case for a minimum of 6 weeks after child returns home. The case will then be stepped down and passed to the Early Help Service for family support. 

If a child returns home but is subsequently re-referred within a year as needing accommodation the case will return to the Care Service (subject to case by case consideration).
4.5.6 Relevant children: If a child has been looked after on their 16th birthday, and has been looked after for 13 weeks since the age of 14 yrs, they are described as '‘Relevant children’' under the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. If a ’'relevant child’' is discharged from care aged 16 or 17yrs, that case will not be closed or transferred but will remain allocated in the Care Service as there are specific duties imposed on the local authority in respect of relevant children.
4.5.7 If a child is subject of a Care Order or an Interim Care Order and is placed with parents, the case will remain in the same Practice Group, either in the Care Service or SFS, until the order is discharged. See Placement with Parents Procedure.

Special Guardianship Orders

  1. Internal applications for SGO (i.e. allocated cases) in SFS or Care Services:
Cases will transfer to the Permanence Service following final hearing or conclusion of work by SFS/Care (to be negotiated on a case by case basis).
  1. Any SGO assessment request that is made by the Court and is not a child currently known to CSC will be undertaken by the Permanence Service. The SGO request is received and processed through MASH. The lead SGO Advanced Practitioner and PGL in Permanence are notified by MASH manager. Following MASH enquiries a message will be sent to the AP in permanence service with the MASH outcome. Case will then be allocated to a Permanence worker.

Children on Residence Orders

Those children where post placement support is offered would be held in the Post placement support team in the Permanence Service.

Children in care through Remand (see Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody Procedure).

These cases will Initially be held in the Youth Offending Service (if previously not allocated) – they will transfer to Care service at the first LAC review.


New Birth Assessments

See also Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure.

Pregnancy of service users already known to Children’s Social Care, where previous children have been removed through Care Proceedings, will be managed as follows:

The case will be referred to the Pre-Birth Team in the A&I Service for an assessment as soon as information is received about the pregnancy unless the unborn child is conceived (and known about) prior to the final hearing in family proceedings relating to siblings.

In case of repeat pregnancies and previous removals where circumstances of mother-to-be have not changed, it may be decided between A&I and SFS PGLs that the new pre-birth Single assessment is undertaken by SFS irrespective of when previous Care proceedings were concluded.


Pregnancy of Children Looked After or Care Leavers:

See also Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure and Pre Birth Assessment Tool.

4.7.1 It should not be an automatic decision to complete a pre-birth assessment in relation to the pregnancies of all care leavers unless the thresholds are met as outlined in the Pre-Birth Assessment Procedure and Pre Birth Assessment Tool.

When a child in care or an allocated care leaver is pregnant and there are concerns about the future welfare of the baby, the initial pre-birth risk assessment should be carried out by a separate social worker to the social worker for the young person. If there are complex concerns then it may be appropriate to involve the pre-birth team, (this by negotiation).

If the care proceedings are to be transferred to SFS, the case will be held by the originating team until the first hearing at which point the case may transfer to SFS if this has been agreed between Practice Group Leads as appropriate.

Following a pre-birth assessment, a planning meeting involving the Looked After Child's allocated social worker, Assessment and Intervention social worker, other local authority social worker, the foster carer and/or key worker, fostering supervising social worker and Looked After Child (or care leaver) will be held to discuss the assessment and identify a clear plan.

The pre-birth planning meeting will be chaired by the team leading the pre-birth assessment.

One of the following will be agreed:

  1. Baby requires family support from Universal Services and Children Centres in their locality with ongoing support provided for the mother (who is Looked After) by the Care Service social worker and the mother's carer (where relevant);
  2. Baby is potentially at risk of Significant Harm and a Child Protection Conference should be convened;
  3. Baby should be placed into accommodation with the mother (who is Looked After);
  4. Newborn baby to be made subject to interim Care Proceedings.
4.7.5 If, as a result of the pre-birth assessment, it is decided that the newborn baby can be managed through the provision of local universal services, then the case will remain allocated to the relevant Care worker who will ensure that the mother receives the agreed support to help her look after her baby.

If the Section 47 threshold is met, a Strategy Meeting should be convened and a manager from the Care Service should be included. The Care service should provide a full written history and Chronology of the young person either at the Strategy Meeting, or within 14 days following it. The meeting should consider the Care Plan for the young person and any additional resources needed to support the young person throughout the pregnancy. N.B. If the young person is Looked After by another Local Authority and living in Southwark, then the allocated social worker from that Local Authority should be invited to the Strategy Meeting.

If the unborn baby lives in Southwark and is taken to an initial Child Protection Conference and made subject of a Child Protection Plan, the baby will be allocated to a worker in the Safeguarding and Family Support Service.
4.7.7 If it is decided that the expected / recently born baby should be Looked After (under an Interim Care Order or Section 20) the baby will be allocated in the Care service until such time as the Looked After status is ceased.
4.7.8 If the young person's placement is out of borough the CLA service must refer the case of the unborn to the relevant Assessment and Intervention service. The London Child Protection procedures clearly state that: 'where a child is a mother/expectant mother and is accommodated or subject to leaving care arrangements (potentially up to 25 years), and is placed by the originating authority in another borough, the authority in which the mother is living is responsible for the baby.' This is an area where there can sometimes be disputes regarding case responsibility. It is therefore important that case responsibility is negotiated at an early stage by managers. The Quality Assurance Service can also be consulted in terms of agreeing child protection conference arrangements in such cases.
4.7.9 The relevant Independent Reviewing Officer, when reviewing the mother's (CLA) Care Plan will be able to explore whether the baby's needs continue to be met by his/her mother and universal services.

5. Children with Disabilities

CAPTION: table containing section 5
See also Safeguarding Disabled Children - Practice Guidance and Children with Disabilities Procedure.

New Referrals:

Children with Disabilities Team (CWD) workers sit in MASH - all disability cases would go to MASH first. Following this those children who have a severe or profound disability that is permanent would pass to the CWD team for allocation.


The CWD will work with disabled children defined as: having a severe or profound disability that is permanent.

This can be family support under S17, safeguarding under S47 and children looked after under S20 or S31. 

If the primary reason for allocation is the disability of one child then his/her siblings would also be worked with in the CWD team. The principle is that all children in one family wherever possible should be held in the same practice group.

Disabled children aged 14 yrs and over, including children in care and care leavers, will be allocated within the Transition Team.