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1.6.1 Protocol for Transfer and Movement of Social Work Cases


Way We Do Guides - Core Group Meetings


This chapter was amended in May 2012 and is a summary and revision of all previous protocols. Please read it in it's entirety.


  1. Social Work Principles
  2. Good Practice Standards
  3. Distinction between Movement and Transfer of Cases
  4. Movement of Cases from the Assessment Team To Child Protection and Wellbeing Team
  5. Transfer of Cases from the Child Protection and Wellbeing Team to the Permanency and Transitions Team
  6. Tasks the Transferring Team Must Undertake
  7. Task the Receiving Team Must Undertake
  8. Transfer to another Locality, Another Service (ICS) or out of County
  9. Re-referrals on Closed Cases
  10. Related or Relevant Protocols
  11. Finance Only Cases
  12. Trends and Practice Issues

    Appendix 1 - Operational Protocols for Managing Transfers

1. Social Work Principles

The transfer and movement of cases is a safeguarding matter - it is important that full information accompanies the transfer or movement and that the receiving worker and Practice Manager have a good understanding of the child's circumstances and associated risks.

Whenever a case is transferred or moved across to another team, the child and family's needs will be considered, with the emphasis on a smooth handover, and with the aim of reducing the numbers of workers with whom the family will need to engage. As a matter of good social work practice, handover points will be identified which match the needs or requirements of the child and their family and not the requirements of the service.

Verbal face to face handovers are preferable when cases are moving between the assessment and child protection and wellbeing services. For cases moving to the Permanency and Transition Service (P&T) a transfer summary is required, and face to face meeting(s) involving the young person, parents, carers and key professionals should take place.

A lack of capacity in the service receiving the case will not be a reason to delay transfer.

It is acknowledged that we do not have the capacity in the current social workforce to update all the historic gaps in chronologies on all cases. Where there is a casework need for the chronology to be complete (i.e. for Court proceedings) the current social worker will be responsible for meeting that need.

It is acknowledged that where there are historic gaps which pre-date the allocation to the current worker this will not be a reason to hold up the transfer or movement of the case.

However, the relevant Practice Manager will check and ensure that all files have a Genogram, core data (e.g. ethnicity), and up to date Chronology on all current social work.

All cases to be transferred or moved across will be identified by the transferring service as soon as possible and entered on to the Transfer Spreadsheet list or CF report number (DA 105R Open Initial Assessments) (see Transfer Spreadsheet notes in Section 9, Re-referrals on Closed Cases). All cases will be discussed, in anticipation of the transfer or move, at a regular Transfer Meeting of PM's. If there are issues regarding capacity in the receiving team, the transferring and receiving Practice Managers will seek a joint solution to the issue. If the matter is unresolved, it will then be raised with the respective Operations Managers.

If any case transfer issues remain which cannot be resolved either by the relevant Practice Managers or their respective Operations Managers, then a third independent Operations Manager will be approached to give a view. This decision will be child and family focused and respected by all parties.

2. Good Practice Standards

Young people, carers and parents need to be informed of the change of worker and their concerns and anxieties addressed.

There will be an introduction of the new worker by the existing worker and following that introduction, an agreement made about the date for the transfer of case responsibility and agreement on who will be responsible for notifying all involved professionals.

All recording will be up to date. This includes Genograms and Chronologies. However, see note on chronologies above, as historic gaps will not prevent transfers.

A file quality check will be completed and signed off by the referring PM. 

The PM in the receiving team will be responsible for ensuring that the CareFirst records are amended to show the new allocation arrangements.

3. Distinction Between Movement and Transfer of Cases

Cases completed by the Assessment Team will be passed across to the relevant Child Protection and Wellbeing Teams for allocation, usually on completion of the Initial Assessment. This will be considered as a movement of the case and not a formal Transfer.

This is intended to facilitate a speedy passing on of cases to a social worker who will work with the client in more depth.

For cases moving to the P&T service please refer to Section 1, Social Work Principles.

Details of both movement and transfer of cases are described in the following sections.

4. Movement of Cases from the Assessment Team to Child Protection and Wellbeing Team

Cases passed across to the Child Protection and Wellbeing Team after an Initial Assessment has been completed will include a Chronology and Genogram.

This is underpinned by the principles of 'keeping it simple' and working quickly to focus on meeting the needs of the client. Therefore there will not be the usual range of formalities usually associated with Case Transfer (i.e. closing summaries, "audits", etc.)

Sometimes it will be in the interest of the client for the handover to include face to face contact with the client - however it will be good practice in completing an IA to always inform the client that a social worker may be allocated longer term as an outcome of the IA while the Initial Assessment work is undertaken. This preparation may alleviate the need for face to face handover with the client.

When a s47 is being planned, the Assessment Team PM will also notify PM's in the Child Protection and Wellbeing Team of the case. The Assessment Social Worker will remain the lead social worker and will, however, involve the CP&W social worker identified by the CP&W PM in the Section 47 process as soon as practicable.

The Assessment social worker will remain responsible for producing the IA, the Strategy Meetings and S47 Investigation reports and reports to ICPC, unless otherwise agreed with the new worker. The Core Assessment will be the responsibility of the new worker and their PM will be responsible for the reassignment of the Core Assessment and timeliness for the assessment. Information prepared by the Assessment social worker for previous reports can be "pulled through" to contribute to the completion of the Core Assessment.

Planning for the movement and allocation of cases from Assessment into CP&W will take place during weekly / fortnightly meetings of all PM's in the Area / Team.

5. Transfer of Cases from the Child Protection and Wellbeing Team to the Permanency and Transitions Team

Criteria for cases to be transferred

Cases identified for transfer to the P&T Team will meet the following criteria:

  • There is an agreed care plan which states that the child will be remaining in the care of the local authority on a permanent basis. That is there is no plan to rehabilitate the child to birth family, or place the child outside LA care by means of an Adoption Order, Special Guardianship Order or Residence Order;
  • This plan will have been confirmed at a Permanency Planning meeting or subsequent child in care review meeting;
  • All the necessary case work has been completed, i.e. all care proceedings have been completed.

Management arrangements for negotiation the transfer of cases

A list of cases for transfer will be recorded and regularly maintained on a spreadsheet by all PM's. This spreadsheet will be stored on the P Drive and be available to all PM's and other managers across the County. It will be kept up to date across the county by relevant PM's.

P&T Team PM will join the area based managements meeting for discussions about the transfer of cases.

Progress on the transfer of work will be monitored by Operation Managers on a weekly / fortnightly basis at their meetings.

6. Tasks the Transferring Team Must Undertake

The transferring Practice Manager will initiate discussion with the receiving Practice Manager regarding the nature of the case and needs of the child as soon as possible after case movement has been identified.

A file check will be done by the transferring Practice Manager. Core Assessments or other documentation, such as viability assessment where a child in care is placed with kin, the Placement with Parents Regs initiated where the child is placed with parents or others will be completed in anticipation of the transfer.

The transfer Form W1 will be authorised by the transferring PM and will clearly outline:

  • The current plan;
  • Key dates for the case;
  • Explicitly identify the location of all key documents, such as expert witness reports, that are recorded on Trim;
  • All recommendations from Court;
  • Any key information that may apply to any future sibling referrals.

The transferring Social Worker will attend the meeting when the case will transfer, having completed all the necessary paperwork for that meeting.

The transferring Practice Manager will be responsible for the change on CareFirst when the case is transferred or moved across.

7. Tasks the Receiving Team Must Undertake

On being notified of the impending transfer or movement of the case the receiving Practice Manager will discuss the case with the transferring Practice Manager; this will likely be in a regular case allocation meeting held by PM's in their area.

Thereafter, the receiving PM will identify a worker to take the case.If it is not possible to identify a receiving worker, then the two Practice Managers will negotiate the best way to flexibly manage the transfer, seeking to achieve this at the earliest opportunity, but bearing in mind the needs of the child, and seeking to minimise the numbers of workers involved with the child.

8. Transfer to Another Locality, Another Service (ICS) or Out of County

If a Child / YP moves to another area permanently, the case will move to that area. All agencies must be notified of the changes. Any dispute to be resolved between relevant OM's.

Receiving PM within Devon CC is responsible for ensuring CareFirst records are amended.

Further work needs to be undertaken with our ICS colleagues to develop improved protocols for the transfer of cases. In the interim, the principle will be to define what the primary need is - if this is a Safeguarding need the case will be held by the CP&W team with a co-worker from ICS assigned. If the primary need relates to the special needs, the case will be held by ICS with a co-worker from CP&W team assigned. If there are also Safeguarding issues, this must be held by a qualified Social Worker in ICS, if this is not possible the case remains the primary responsibility of the CP&W team.  Within sibling groups, the PMs should seek wherever possible to agree one service to hold the case with a co-worker assigned from the other service.

When a case is transferred to another county or department, all documentation should be up to date, file check undertaken by the PM and all involved professionals advised.

Where the plan is for adoption, please follow the existing protocol regarding joint work with the adoption social worker. These cases do not transfer to the P&T teams.

9. Re-Referrals on Closed Cases

If a case is re-referred within 3 months of having been closed with the same presenting issue it will be allocated to the team who previously held the case.

If the case is re-referred with a different issue, the Assessment and Early Intervention Service will be asked to re-assess the situation.

10. Related or Relevant Protocols


If a sibling is newly referred on a family already open in the CP and Wellbeing Team - the social worker currently holding the case will undertake the Initial Assessment on the basis they are familiar with the family.

If half / step siblings in different (currently allocated) families are referred through Assessment, both workers must liaise from the outset.

Where a sibling is referred on a case open in Permanence and Transitions Team the sibling will be assessed and managed initially by the Assessment Service and then the CP and WB Team until a plan for Permanence is established.

However, all key information regarding conclusions of expert reports and court decisions will be explicitly listed on the transfer summary when the original sibling moved to Permanence.

Private Fostering

The oversight of any case where a child is 'privately fostered' will be undertaken by the Private Fostering Team. This team will take on this responsibility once the Initial Assessment has been completed and the case moved across from Assessment.

The private fostering team is responsible for undertaking assessments of private fostering arrangements, but if a child who is already allocated a worker moves into a private fostering arrangement, then that worker will continue to hold case responsibility for the child and will undertake the initial visit to the child, in the private fostering placement, within 7 days.

See Private Fostering Procedure

Arrangements for the allocation of "Homeless 16/17 year olds" also known as "Southwark Cases"

It is important that we ensure all young people who have issues with homelessness or potential homelessness are referred to the agreed Youth Homelessness Pathway, so they are given appropriate specialist housing advice and all prevention work is done to support this young person.

Closed Cases

  • When a young person has been referred to MASH by the District Councils or Youth Homeless Prevention the case will be allocated to the relevant Advanced Professional in the Permanence and Transition Service;
  • If the young person has not received advice from the District Council housing workers or the Youth Homeless Prevention workers then the referrer should be directed towards these services;
  • The P&T service will deal with 16/17 year olds where there are issues of homelessness. If the young person is not facing homelessness but has other concerns they should be referred to the assessment service.

Open Cases

  • If the case is open to the Child Protection and Wellbeing Service and issues of homelessness arise or the young person wanting to leave home the young person should be directed to the District Council housing workers or Youth Homeless Prevention workers for advice and guidance. If homelessness cannot be prevented then a joint assessment with housing will be undertaken;
  • The AP in the Permanence and Transition Service would be available to offer advice/guidance on processes etc.;
  • The case will remain in CP+W. However, once a decision has been made that a young person is not to return home there will be a period of co-working until the criteria in section 5 above are met.

Transfer Spreadsheet

The Transfer Spreadsheet will be kept up to date by all PM's. The transferring PM is responsible for adding cases to the list and the receiving PM is responsible for removing the case information from the list after transfer.

Cases moving from the Assessment Team do not go on the Transfer Spreadsheet.

The Assessment PM will bring the CF report number (DA 105R Open Initial Assessments) to their area weekly / fortnightly allocation meeting to discuss and track the pending reallocation of all incoming work. Unallocated cases will not be put on the transfer spreadsheet. These will be recorded on the Case Management Risk Allocation spreadsheet. Whenever either spreadsheet is updated, the date at the top of the spreadsheet MUST be altered - amendments should take place of both, at a minimum, on a weekly basis.

Spreadsheet detail consists of the name of the child, DoB, CareFirst number, placement address, date of next review placement type, (residential / fostering / independent sector placement) and whether the child is in the long term placement stability cohort. There will be a column showing the date of the proposed transfer, name of the social worker receiving the case and a comments column. (Business Support staff will maintain this for PMs).

Any specific details relevant to the transfer of the case will be added by the referring PM. This will include comments on the stability of the placement, risk assessment, issues re skills / gender of the worker, whether they have links to their "home" area (to determine which local team will take the case).

11. Finance Only Cases

Cases held open solely to provide financial assistance or payments to families will be held and monitored in the Permanency and Transitions Team.

Protocol in Respect of Special Guardianship Orders and Residence Orders

A Community Care Worker in the Permanence and Transitions Team will hold all these cases (across the County) on a financial review basis only. If the Care Plan involves contact arrangements and liaison with birth family or / and current carers the CCW is able to undertake these pieces of work.

However, if a case becomes active again the team or area who worked the case when the relevant order was made will be expected to pick up and complete this specific piece of work. The case will then be passed back to the CCW for ongoing review.

Before cases are transferred the files will be checked to ensure that they include a copy of the relevant order Special Guardianship Order / Independent Reviewing Officer and a case transfer summary. Cases will not be accepted if either are missing.

It will be noted that in line with best practice, all Care First reports, observations, etc must be completed by either the Social Worker and or Practice Manager before transfer.

"No Recourse to Public Funds" Financial Support Cases

These cases will remain being managed in the CP&W Teams, following initial assessment.

Finance only Post Adoption cases

These cases will be managed within the Adoption Service.

12. Trends and Practice Issues

A working group of representative PM's and a lead OM will meet on an agreed regular basis to identify and track whether there are any trends emerging relating to case transfers, and to utilise this information to instigate practice improvements. This working group will identify any trends, blockages, bottle-necks to case transfers and movements, collate the relevant data, provide analysis of the issues and devise recommendations for resolution or improvement of the issues. This group will alert and advise the OM group, providing a responsive feedback loop mechanism, so that effective change can be brought about.

Accordingly, PM's will report and provide evidence for OMs as soon as they are aware of capacity issues in allocating new work.

In the first instance, this group of PM's and a lead OM will meet monthly for 6 months during the remodelling and ad hoc afterwards. This will have two purposes:

  1. To review these Protocols;
  2. To monitor capacity issues (as described in the paragraph above).

OMs will ensure that reports from PMs regarding capacity issues are passed up to HOS / Director and responses received and fed back.

Appendix 1 - Operational Protocols for Managing Transfers

The names of children (and other information) awaiting transfer will be managed through the use of a Transfer Spreadsheet (see Section 9, Re-referrals on Closed Cases).

Any specific details relevant to the transfer of the case will be added by the referring PM. This will include comments on the stability of the placement, risk assessment, issues re skills / gender of the worker, whether they have links to their "home" area (to determine which local team will take the case).

Once this base line information is recorded on the Transfer Spreadsheet, it will be the responsibility of the P&T Team PM to maintain and up date the list.

P&T Team PM will meet with the referring PMs to identify specific cases to be transferred with agreed time scales. The referring PMs will identify which cases are priorities to transfer and give dates. In cases where there is uncertainty about whether this criteria has been met the Practice Managers will meet to discuss the case and agree an appropriate resolution, if necessary they can involve the Independent Reviewing Officer in this decision making.

P&T Team PM will join the area based managements meeting for discussions about the transfer of cases.

Progress on the transfer of work will be monitored by Operation Managers on a weekly basis at their meetings.

P&T Team PMs will meet with their OM on a fortnightly basis and resolve any issues relating to case transfer - i.e. pressure points, movements of cases between P&T teams, management of children outside of Devon.

Where a child is placed long term in another area consideration will be given to allocating the case to a worker who is geographically close to the placement. The same principle will be applied to children placed outside Devon or those with no connection to a specific part of Devon.

It is expected that the Fostering service workers access this spreadsheet so they are aware of the proposed changes.

It is intended that no child in care will be transferred to a waiting list or be transferred and become unallocated. Any serious capacity issues will be escalated with specific details and potential solutions for consideration.