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Movement of Children and Families

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 all practitioners and agencies must make every effort to locate the children.

Practitioners in all agencies should be alert to the possibility that a child or family who has moved into their area may not be in receipt of universal services. Practitioners should therefore engage with the family in order to seek information about the child. For this purpose practitioners should:

  • Ensure that all forenames and surnames used by the family are provided, and clarification is obtained about the correct spelling;
  • Ensure that accurate dates, places of birth and ethnicity are obtained for all household members, wherever possible;
  • Obtain the previous full addresses, and earlier addresses within the last two years;
  • Clarify relationships between the child and other household members, if possible with documentary evidence; and
  • Ask the child / family with which statutory or voluntary organisations they are in contact.

Practitioners should also:

  • Provide information about relevant services;
  • Follow up to ensure that the family has managed to make contact and register with a local GP, school and other relevant services to which the child is entitled; and
  • Engage appropriately with relevant agencies regarding any concerns that emerge.

The child’s move may be temporary or permanent. If parents / carers are not prepared to give information or take advice, the then the following should be considered:

  • If it is “temporary accommodation” such as a hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation, staying with relatives or friends or at a residential assessment unit, then the current Local Authority should maintain responsibility;
  • If the address is a permanent move, Hull Children's Social Care should take on case responsibility;
  • If a temporary stay exceeds 3 months, managers from the respective authorities should negotiate transfer of case responsibility.

Uncertainty about whether a move is permanent or temporary should not be allowed to cause a delay in the transfer of the case to services in the new area.

Working Together to Safeguard Children is clear that all practitioners should be particularly alert to the importance of sharing information when a child moves from one local authority into another; due to the risk that knowledge pertinent to keeping a child safe could be lost.


Fundamentally, support children and families is the responsibility of the Local Authority in the area in which they permanently reside.

However, the priority should be to provide appropriate local support to the children and family where this is needed, whether their move is permanent or temporary, and this requires good communication and negotiation between both Local Authorities.

Where there are Concerns about Significant Harm

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 will have internal procedures which set out how information about children and families is provided to another Local Authority/Health service  Education Service/ Police Force when a child or family moves.

It is normally advised that assessments or particular pieces of work are concluded before transfer of case responsibility takes place

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 is proposed but has not yet taken place, the Local Authority where the concerns originated should make decisions as to how to proceed. 

In these circumstances, therefore, the originating authority must continue with the Section 47 Enquiry and should convene a Strategy Discussion/Meeting - this should take place within 72 hours of notification of the child’s move. Timescales may be varied depending on the individual circumstances e.g. 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. 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 practitioners involved. If the professional differences remain unresolved, please refer to the Resolving Inter Agency Disagreements Guidance (Escalation Policy).

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:

  • Notify the Children’s Social Care Services in the receiving authority of the change in the child’s circumstances within 1 working day of discovering the move;
  • Send the child’s relevant personal details to Children’s Social Care Services in the receiving authority and forward any relevant documentation such as copies of the most recent plans and/or a summary of the assessment so far;
  • Inform their line manager of the change;
  • Inform any other agencies working with the family of the change in circumstances and ask them to inform their colleagues in the new area;
  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is displayed on the child’s electronic record; and
  • Attend any handover meetings in the receiving authority.

The Social Worker’s Line Manager will:

  • Inform the relevant Team Manager in the receiving authority of the current details;
  • Agree any urgent action and, if required, agree which local authority will take such action;
  • Agree the convening of a Strategy Discussion / Meeting within 72 hours;
  • Discuss with the relevant Team Manager in the receiving authority at what stage responsibility for the child should be transferred.

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.

Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan

Actions to be taken in the Child’s Originating Area (Hull Children Moving to another Local Authority Area)

Where a child subject to a Child Protection Plan moves out of Hull, 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:

  • Immediately inform the Children's Social Care in the new area of the change in the child’s circumstances;
  • Send the child and family’s relevant personal details to the new area including a copy of the most recent Child Protection Plan and Conference Record;
  • Inform the ‘home’ Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) of the changes;
  • Inform the Core Group of the change in circumstances including the GP and Health Visitor (for pre school age children);
  • Ensure that all information is updated and the correct address is loaded on Carefirst; and
  • Attend any Initial (transfer out) Child Protection Conference in the new area.

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 Hull.

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.

Actions to be taken in the child’s new area (Child moving from another Local Authority to Hull)

At the point of notification, the receiving Social Work Team in the child’s new area will be expected to:

  • If required e.g. due to geographical distance from the originating authority, undertake enquiries to ensure that protective action is taken in order to safeguard the child in the new area until the Initial (transfer-in) Child Protection Conference has taken place;
  • Undertake an assessment to determine whether the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm in the new area and work with the child and family to prepare for the Initial Child Protection Conference;
  • Create the child and their family’s name, address and relevant known personal details on Carefirst;
  • Request information from the originating Local Authority, including copies of all Child Protection Conference minutes from the originating area;
  • Inform the Independent Review Officer team of the child and their CPP (including category of harm);
  • Make arrangements to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of the notification of the child moving in; and
  • Confirm the outcome of the Initial Child Protection Conference with the originating local authority’s Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) and forward a copy of the Conference Record for their records.

The Designated Manager (Children subject to Child Protection Plans) (in Hull this is the IRO Manager) will:

  • Ensure that the IRO Business Support team add the Child Protection Plan on the child’s record; and
  • Notify Hull and East Riding Hospital Trust of the child’s details and their Child Protection Plan.

Temporary moves

A planned temporary move could cover a range of situations from holidays 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 relevant information and contact numbers as follows:

  • The allocated Social Worker must contact the other Local Authority’s Designated Manager (Children subject to a Child Protection Plan) and Children's Social Care where the child is temporarily resident, providing them with the relevant personal details and a copy of the Child Protection Plan.

For children who have moved into Hull, a record of the child and family should be created on Carefirst, and the Independent Review Team informed so that a temporary Child Protection Plan can be created on their record.

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.

Moving Abroad

Local agencies and practitioners 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, may have been removed from the UK by their 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 and the Police Safeguarding Vulnerable People Unit 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.

In the case of children who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, requires immediate protection or is the subject of Care Proceedings, and has a connection to a foreign country, the relevant Embassy should be contacted.

Social Workers should work with colleagues abroad when exploring potential placements for children. See Cross-border Child Protection Cases: The 1996 Hague Convention.

Amendments to this Chapter

In July 2021, information contained in this procedure was reviewed and updated. A note from Working Together to Safeguard Children has been added into Section 1, Movement of Children and Families, to remind  all practitioners of the importance of sharing information when a child moves from one local authority into another; due to the risk that knowledge pertinent to keeping a child safe could be lost.