Team Remits and Transfer Protocol (Step Up Step Down)


Section 3.10, Disabled Children's Service (DCS) was amended in September 2017 to reflect that referrals concerning disabled children are routed via the CRU to the DCS, either the Disabled Children Teams for 0-15 years old or the Young People's Teams for 16-17 year olds where they meet the criteria for that service. The service will retain responsibility for these children whether through Child in Need, Child Protection or Child in Care Planning and provision until such time as the service is no longer required or appropriate. Those who reach 18 years of age will continue to receive services as an adult.

1. Scope and Context

1.1 The purpose of this document is to set out the team remits for those teams within Specialist Children's Services (SCS) and to clarify the arrangements for all children and young people whose case is transferring between teams across the Service.
1.2 Kent Children's Social Services is constructed into specialist teams in order to provide an effective and deliverable service to vulnerable children. Although every attempt is made to minimise changes in social worker and service for each child and their family, children's individual and changing needs mean that different services may be required at different stages. It is therefore inevitable that on occasions, children's cases will need to transfer between teams in order to respond to their changing needs. It is in this context that it is essential for practitioners and managers to be clear about the transfer points and the processes which should be followed to ensure a consistent, effective, service for vulnerable children.
1.3 The protocol focuses specifically on children in need as defined by the Children Act 1989, including those who are Looked After (Children in Care), those who have a Child Protection Plan and those receiving services as outlined in Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. 

The protocol covers the Teams across Kent Children's Social Services who provide services to children, including:

  • The Central Referral Unit;
  • The Children's Social Work Teams;
  • Children in Care Teams;
  • Adolescent Support Teams;
  • 18+ Teams.
1.5 It provides a framework for Teams to establish consistent responsibilities on behalf of all children who are in need, including those in need of protection, who move in planned or in unplanned circumstances across local authority boundaries.

2. Principles

2.1 Transfer of cases will be conducted in a timely fashion, according to defined standards ensuring as much continuity as possible for service users. The child's experience within the system should be the central concern.
2.2 Transfer arrangements will always be mindful of the need to ensure the safety of children. It is essential that good quality information is passed from the transferring team to prevent gaps in knowledge and to ensure that the welfare and protection of the child is paramount.
2.3 Children, young people, their parents/carers and agencies, should be advised of any plans to transfer cases between teams. Wherever possible, case transfer should include a handover meeting with the child/young person and their parent/carer.
2.4 When cases meet the criteria for transfer, this should be treated as a priority, with every effort made to ensure smooth and timely transfer.
2.5 At no point should a child subject to a Child Protection Plan or a Child in Care be left unallocated. If difficulties are experienced in transferring cases out of the Children's Social Work Team due to capacity, this should be escalated to the Service Manager, who is accountable for smooth transition arrangements across the district.
2.6 In exceptional situations where it is not possible to allocate a social worker to a child in need, the team leader will be responsible for managing the case and ensuring regular visiting, review and oversight of the case, whilst continuing to arrange for allocation at the earliest opportunity. 

3. Team Remits

3.1 Kent County Council has, with its partners, constructed a Central Referral Unit. It consists of the whole range of service providers who are or might be involved with vulnerable children.
3.2 The Central Referral Unit facilitates more consistent threshold application between agencies, reduces duplication, promotes more effective information sharing and thereby promotes more timely and targeted intervention for children and their families.

The services are co-located making multi agency planning and intervention easier, with ready access to relevant data and systems, such planning will be timely, consistent and streamlined.

Click here to view the Transfer Protocol Image.


The CRU receives all contacts for children services in the County and offers:

  • An information and advice service;
  • Redirection to Early Help and Preventative Services;
  • The identification of appropriate referrals for social care intervention.

Early Help and Preventative Services are available in each district and are targeted at vulnerable children and young people and families with additional needs which cannot be met by the existing range of services.

Children, young people and families identified as needing support from the Early Help and Preventative Services will have a number of identified concerns/needs, that require a targeted service rather than universal or specialist. The core offer that can be delivered with partner agencies for vulnerable children, young people and their families includes:

  • Direct work with children, young people and their families in their home and/or alternative community setting using evidence based interventions, e.g. solution focused, cognitive behavioural approaches;
  • Contributing to the Kent Family Support Framework integrated working processes through the provision of advice, training and support where appropriate;
  • Assistance in working with other professionals/commissioned services and community groups, ensuring that plans and interventions are complementary and families and children access appropriate services in a timely manner;
  • Community outreach work which responds to the needs of the area;
  • Provision of open access opportunities to support the children, young people and families to universal services.
3.6 Cases that require a social care response, either immediately or once it is clear that Early Help and Preventative Services cannot reduce levels of risk to the children will be referred to Children's Social Work Teams (CSWT) based in each district.

Children's Social Work Teams (CSWT) are responsible for:

  • Completing a holistic assessment of any child(ren) or young people referred with a clear focus on those in need (as defined by the children Act 89) and those in need of protection;
  • Working with children and their families where there is a need for longer term child in need social work services, assessment, planning and review;
  • S47 investigations and on occasion emergency action to safeguard a child's welfare;
  • Working with children and families where children have a child protection plan;
  • Pre-proceedings work and work to initiate Care Proceedings where necessary;
  • Private Law reports (e.g.: Section 7 report);
  • Transferring the case to/back to Early Help and Preventative Services where ongoing support is needed;
  • Closing the case when no further action is needed.

Children in Care (CiC) Teams are responsible for:

  • Services to children and young people below the age of 18 who are placed in foster care, residential provision or with relative or friend, who are approved as long term carers;
  • Children and young people, who are subject to a court order children who are accommodated with parental agreement and children who have been placed for adoption or are subject to a Placement Order;
  • Children subject to Care Proceedings;
  • Children remanded into local authority accommodation;
  • Children and young people in custody who become Children in Care by virtue of the 'Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Their remit is to identify the individual needs of Children in Care and to meet those needs within the following areas, to support the children or young people in returning home, staying with friends and family whenever possible; to provide a permanent alternative placement in the relevant timescales when it is not possible of the child or young person to return to live with their family or friends.

Adolescent Support Team (AST)

The Adolescent Support Team is responsible for providing case holding and non-case holding support to young people who are 13+ (11+ will be considered if presenting with family breakdown due to high risk adolescent behaviours), where there is a possibility of family breakdown due to Child and Young Person (CYP) behaviour.

The Adolescent Support Teams will case hold and offer intense support to Children who are on the edge of care and meet the following criteria:

  • Aged 13-18 (11+ will be considered if displaying adolescent behaviours);
  • There is a possibility of family breakdown due to the CYP's behaviour:
  • Aggressive/disruptive/anti-social behaviour;
  • Substance or alcohol abuse;
  • Inability of parents to manage CYP's behaviour;
  • Truancy impacting on family relationships;
  • Mental health issues causing family situation to deteriorate;
  • The case has not been open for more than 6 months;
  • Index referred child is the adolescent - not part of a family requiring social care or the parent of a child requiring social care;
  • Not CP.

The AST will also support cases (non-case held) which do not meet all of the above criteria, but where there is clear benefit for an intense intervention from the team.

If a Child or Young Person is presenting as homeless and is aged 13-18, CDT/CRU will refer the case directly to the Adolescent Support Team.

Disabled Children's Service (DCS):

Referrals concerning disabled children are routed via the CRU to the DCS, either the Disabled Children Teams for 0-15 years old or the Young People's Teams for 16-17 year olds where they meet the criteria for that service. The service will retain responsibility for these children whether through Child in Need, Child Protection or Child in Care Planning and provision until such time as the service is no longer required or appropriate. Those who reach 18 years of age will continue to receive services as an adult.

4. Transfer Points

Children in Need

CAPTION: transfer points"


Work flows from the CRU/CDT to the District CSWT at the point at which it is decided that the threshold for specialist services has been reached. This transfer will ordinarily occur within 24 hours of receipt of the request for service.

Children's Social Work Teams

The District CSWT's retain case responsibility until such time as it is clear that the case can either be closed, stepped down to Early Help and Preventative Services or the case needs to be transferred to the Child in Care team due to the child having become accommodated under S20 and where there is an expectation that they will remain in foster care for at least six weeks - the first review acts as the point of transfer.

Once the level of risk/need is sufficiently reduced cases will be 'stepped down' from the District CSWT for ongoing support that is coordinated, and where appropriate delivered, by members of the Early Help and Preventative Services.

Child in Care Teams

For a Child in Care proceedings, the Children in Care team should be invited to the first LPM and the initial ICO hearing and the transfer will happen immediately following the initial hearing assuming an order is made.

Adolescent Support Team

During a Child and Family assessment, the CSWT will assess the case against the Adolescent Support Team criteria, and if met, will agree transfer of the case following the completion of the assessment.

If an adolescent case becomes looked after, the Adolescent Support Team will continue to work the case and aim to return the child home for a maximum of 12 weeks, at which point the case will transfer to the Children in Care Teams. If there is no plan for the child to return home, the case will transfer to the Child in Care Teams at the first review.

Leaving Care/18+

Young people who have been a Child in Care for at least 13 weeks prior to their 18th birthday will be transferred to the 18+ team. The 18+ team should be invited to the young persons looked after child review around their 17and a half birthday so that an 18+ social worker can introduce themselves and the actual case transfer will take place when the young person reaches 18.

Young people who have a relevant status can transfer when it has been agreed they have this status which is normally approved by the IRO. This status can be approved any time after their 16th birthday.

For transfer the young person must have a national insurance number (if eligible), up to date case summary, case notes and pathway plan. The young person must have, or have applied for a bank account and a passport and should have been in receipt of their “18th birthday payment”. Any Staying Put arrangements must have been approved prior to transfer.

Section 7 or Section 37 Reports

4.2 Requests from the Court for Section 7 or Section 37 Reports should be transferred to the relevant District CSWT or Disabled Children's Team for allocation of a social worker to undertake the completion of the report. If the case is an open case or has been closed less than three months of the report being requested, the new referral should be passed to the most recent allocated Social Worker/Team for completion.

Relinquished Babies

4.3 For new referrals of a relinquished baby, the case-holding Team should refer these to the Adoption Team for consideration of a joint Child and Family Assessment. If the Child and Family Assessment concludes that the plan is for the baby to be relinquished, the case should be transferred to the Adoption Team for allocation.

Private Fostering


All new referrals/notifications of private fostering cases should be referred via CDT, who will direct it to the nominated district in each of the four areas. All referrals in respect of Private Fostering arrangements on open cases are received by the nominated district in each of the four Areas where the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record will be completed.

Following the completion of the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record and a decision made to the appropriateness of the private fostering placement, the case will be transferred back to the district where the child is placed in order that longer term work can be completed.

Where a case is notified where it is already open, CDT/case holding social worker will contact the nominated district Team Manager to inform them, in order that the initial visit can be completed within the 7 day timescale. Ideally, this would be arranged as a joint visit with the case holding social worker and nominated district social worker, in order to enable introductions etc, as well as clarifying roles and responsibilities.

In cases where there are ongoing Child Protection or complex Child in Need concerns, it is expected that the case holder will continue to oversee the Child Protection/Child in Need plan while the nominated CSWT social worker works alongside, focussing upon the private fostering arrangement.

Transfer of Child Protection Cases from Other Local Authorities

When Kent SCS is notified of a child subject to a Child Protection Plan by another Local Authority has moved into their area, the CSWT team manager is responsible for negotiating transfer. This includes making contact with the responsible Local Authority and ensuring the case meets the criteria for transfer across local authority boundaries. Once a decision has been made that the criteria have been met, transfer should be arranged to take place within 15 working days. 

The receiving team is responsible for making the necessary arrangements to facilitate transfer and referring the case to the County Independent Conference Chairs Service for a Transfer-In Conference to be arranged. The Team Manager should attend the Transfer-In conference, or if he/she considers it more appropriate, arrange for the attendance of the nominated allocated social worker.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

All referrals relating to unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children are automatically referred to the UASC Service at the point of referral. This service is responsible for managing all assessment and support services required for this group of children and young people.

Case Transfers between Area Teams

4.5 If a family residing in one part of the county moves to another part of the county on a permanent basis, and the case remains open, proper transfer arrangements are required. The case-holding social worker should make contact with the receiving Team and provide information on the case. The Team Manager should request transfer through formal letter or email. If it is clear that the child/family are moving to the new area on a permanent basis, transfer should be agreed by the receiving Team. Any dispute about the transfer of a case should be escalated to the relevant Service Manager to resolve.
4.6 The case holding Team is responsible for ensuring that any Child and Family Assessments or Section 47 enquiries already commenced must be completed prior to transfer.
4.7 If a family's move to another part of the county is on a temporary basis, case responsibility will remain with the team the case is open to.

Closed Cases

4.8 Any case re-referred less than 12 weeks from closure (the date of closure recorded on Liberi) will be transferred to the closing team.

5. Transfer Standards


To enable effective transfer of a case, the allocated social worker must ensure that the following actions have been taken:

  • A transfer summary should be produced for any case transferring which has an assessment which is over a month old, setting out the updated case information and highlighting key issues;
  • All case recording is up to date, including an updated Chronology, contact records, records of visits (CIN, CP CIC);
  • All case recording on Liberi must be complete;
  • Where relevant, Child and Family Assessment forms have been completed on all relevant children in the family and with the family and referrer as appropriate;
  • Supervision records should be up to date and recorded on Liberi;
  • A copy of all current Legal Orders are included;
  • In the case of a child in care (on a Care Order under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989) a copy of the birth certificate will be retained, or (for children Accommodated under Section 20) will have been requested;
  • Financial agreements should be up to date and recorded on the transfer record.

The decision to transfer a case should be taken by the team manager and should be recorded on the child's record on Liberi.

All cases transferring should meet the transfer and recording standards set out in 3 above. Central to this process is the completion of a transfer summary for those cases where an assessment is over one month old, setting out the updated case information, including important dates and urgent actions that may need following up on. Summaries must be signed off by the Team Manager.

It is the responsibility of the originating team to ensure that all actively involved agencies, professionals and family members are notified in writing of the case transfer, the name and contact details of the newly allocated worker and team.

Prior to transfer, the case file should be quality assured by the supervising manager, ensuring that all records are up to date and that the case complies with the practice standards as set out in Section 3, Team Remits above. Should the receiving team identify missing exemplars, assessments or other work, any remedial work must be undertaken by the originating team.

6. Contingency Planning

6.1 Requests to suspend any aspect of this protocol due to localised pressures such as capacity should be made in writing to the relevant Integrated Family Services Manager and brought to the attention of the Assistant Director. Any decision to deviate from the protocol must be set out in writing on the attached notification form at Appendix 1: Transfer Protocol Contingency Planning clarifying how it will impact on the transfer protocol and what actions are in place to mitigate any potential risk.

Appendix 1: Transfer Protocol Contingency Planning

Click here to view Appendix 1: Transfer Protocol Contingency Planning.