Travel Assistance Policy (Children's Social Care Users)
1. Aims of the Policy
The aim of the policy is explain where assisted travel may be provided for children, young people and families accessing Children's Social Care Services in Knowsley.
The Policy is guided by the principles adopted in the Assisted Travel Strategy for Knowsley.
The Assisted Travel Strategy has been devised to ensure that:
- Travel assistance is provided in a way that reflects local and national policy;
- Travel assistance is provided in an equal and fair way;
- Travel assistance is provided in a way that promotes independence;
- The travel assistance provided is the most cost effective way to meet a person's need;
- It is clear who is eligible to receive assisted travel.
Additionally, this policy is based upon the following:
- Promoting children and young person's individual care plan approach;
- Ensuring children and young people are supported in maintaining contact with their families and significant adults;
- Providing children and young people are given the maximum opportunities to live with their birth or extended family or other significant adult;
- Ensuring children and young people are supported in attending school;
- Ensuring children and young people are safeguarded;
- Ensuring children and young people enjoy a healthy lifestyle;
- Ensuring children and young people enjoy a quality of life;
- Ensuring young people are supported in maintaining education, employment or training;
- Ensuring children and young people make a positive contribution.
2. Legal Framework
The policy has been developed within relevant legal frameworks.
Children's Social Care has a statutory duty to provide Travel Assistance to those children, young people and significant adults/family members where the child is assessed as being In Need.
Children's Social Care is responsible for the assessment and provision of support services to children assessed as being In Need, underpinned by the following legislation and statutory guidance as follows: -
- Children Act 1989;
- Children Act 2004;
- Adoption and Children Act 2002;
- Leaving Care Act 2000;
- The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (currently being updated);
- Working Together 2013 (now archived).
3. Who can this Policy help?
Children's Social Care supports and facilitates Travel Assistance arrangements for children, young people and their families where there is an identified need, following a Child in Need assessment, which is clearly identified within the appropriate plan. Such plans would relate to Children in Need, children subject to a Child Protection Plan and children Looked After.
Children in Need
This would include children with complex needs, who have been assessed as meeting Children's Social Care criteria. Support is provided under Section 17 Children Act 1989. Travel Assistance support to Children in Need would be exceptional and time limited.
Children subject to a Child Protection Plan
Children subject to a Child Protection Plan are deemed to be actually or likely to suffer Significant Harm by the act or non act of a parent or carer. Children, young people and their families may require Travel Assistance support to attend appointments, school or contact arrangements. Additional support may be provided for children requiring additional assessment and involvement as part of the Pre Proceedings Protocol, which would indicate the potential for Care Proceedings in the event that the Child Protection Plan is not impacting on the identified outcomes for the child or their safety and well being.
Children Looked After
Children may be Looked After under Section 20 Children Act 1989, where the parent retains Parental Responsibility but cannot care for their child for a variety of reasons or S31/38 Children Act 1989, which relates to children and young people subject to Care Proceedings. As Corporate Parents the Council has a responsibility to children Looked After in all aspects of their daily life including education, health, leisure and contact with their family. Children and young people may need to remain at their original school, attend health appointments, or be supported in seeing their family for the duration of the Care Proceedings or they remain Looked After. Where children remain Looked After over a significant period of time, Travel Assistance arrangements would continue to be supported as per any other parent or carer.
Within Care Proceedings the Court may direct that parents, carers or extended family members are supported with regard to the ongoing assessments and contact arrangements.
Travel Assistance is provided to children, young people and their families mainly with regard to children subject to a Child Protection Plan and children Looked After.
The current policy for the provision of Children's Social Care is aimed at promoting the appropriate plan for the child or young person, and facilitating relevant identified significant adults to the child or young person engaging with the plan.
In extending this principle to the provision of Travel Assistance services, this policy sets the criteria that will be used to assess whether the service user's Travel Assistance needs can be met best through independent travel arrangements or whether alternative Travel Assistance arrangements are necessary.
Travel Assistance is not a service in its own right; it is a means of ensuring a child's plan is progressed appropriately. The overriding principle is that the decision to provide Travel Assistance is based on needs, assessment, risks and outcomes. This is in line with the Assisted Travel Strategy for Knowsley.
Travel Assistance will only be provided or supported if, in the opinion of the assessor, it is appropriate to the child or young person's plan.
Eligibility and Practice Guidance in determining the need for travel assistance
The decision to provide assistance with regard to Travel Assistance must only follow a full assessment of need and the risks associated as part of the support planning process.
The purpose of Travel Assistance support should be clearly stated within the assessment and child/young person's plan.
Travel Assistance will not be provided unless a manager has approved the assessment/plan as per the Travel Assistance guidance.Children, young people and their families will be supported regarding Travel Assistance arrangements where the child or young person is subject to a Child in Need Plan, Child Protection Plan or child Looked After plan.
4. How we Assess Needs
The assessment forms the basis upon which Children's Social Care responds to requests for a service and focuses on the child or young person's need and whether they are in need of Children's Social Care services. The Threshold Criteria Document (Appendix A: Threshold of this policy) outlines where Children's Social Care would be involved, that is at level 3 and level 4.
The provision of Travel Assistance or financial remuneration towards the provision of Travel Assistance will only be considered in relation to meeting the needs of children, young people and significant adults where the plan identifies the need for Travel Assistance.
The assessment and plan will identify the need for Travel Assistance services against the child or young person's needs. The Plan will be reviewed as part of the relevant procedure with regard to Children in Need, Child Protection and Children Looked After.
Where Travel Assistance support is identified within a plan, this would relate to supporting the completion of specific and identified tasks and activities for the child and their family, for example: -
- Travel Assistance of children to and from Contact arrangements;
- Travel Assistance of parents/carers and extended family to and front Contact arrangements;
- Travel Assistance of children to and between placements including emergency removal;
- Travel Assistance of children for leisure activities;
- commissioning of secure Travel Assistance arrangements;
- Travel Assistance of children to and from school, appointments;
- Travel Assistance of parent/carer to appointments;
- Travel Assistance for families in emergency situations.
Stage 1: Assessment
- All information received by Children's Social Care (CSC) is called a Contact;
- Where this information is deemed as meeting CSC threshold criteria, or further information is required to ascertain whether an assessment is required, the Contact would progress to a Referral;
- A CSC Manager will make a decision on the outcome of the Contact/Referral within 24 hours;
- All those making contact with CSC will receive feedback on the outcome of the information they have received;
- There are duty social workers and a manager available every day (Monday to Friday) to support agencies and members of the public via the telephone should they wish to discuss their concerns or information. Out of Hours support is available from 5pm - 9am Monday to Thursday and 5pm Friday to 9am Monday. The Duty Social Worker and Out of Hours Co-ordinator can be contacted on 0151 443 2600;
- Some agencies have arrangements where a member of staff will discuss any concerns or information with a senior or designated person within the organisation. Where professionals do not have this option or are in any doubt whether they should contact CSC, it is recommended that they contact the Duty Social Worker to discuss concerns and obtain advice and assistance;
- It is expected that a Common Assessment Framework or equivalent service specific assessment should have been completed in all circumstances other than where the child is deemed to be likely to suffer or suffering Significant Harm;
- CSC will accept those Contacts which meet the CSC threshold and progress to a Single Assessment;
- The allocated social worker will visit the child within 4 days of receipt of the Contact, unless there are clear child protection concerns, in which case the child must be seen within 24 hours;
- Within 7 days of receipt of the Contact a decision will be made by the Manager as to the appropriate timescale for the assessment to be completed to meet the needs of the individual child or young person. This will depend on the complexity of the information received and obtained within the first 7 days. A maximum of 35 working days has been set for the completion of all Single Assessments;
- All assessments must be undertaken on a multi agency basis and information shared to fully assess the needs of the child or young person;
- It is good practice to convene a Single Assessment Planning Meeting including all agencies and family support where the assessment is deemed more complex and a timescale is set above 10 working days;
- A risk assessment is included within each Single Assessment.
Stage 2: Child/Young Person's Plan
- Following the completion of the Single Assessment, where the child is assessed as being a Child in Need of Children's Social Care Services the relevant plan outlining the nature of intervention will be decided by the Manager;
- Children's Social Care involvement will be either via Child In Need, Child Protection or Child Looked After;
- Each plan will identify the needs of the child, young person and their family, including consideration as to Travel Assistance requirements to enhance and facilitate the plan;
- Each plan will include a risk assessment;
- A complex risk assessment should be completed where the needs of the child, young person or their family are deemed significant.
Stage 3: Identification of appropriate travel arrangements
How can travel assistance be provided?
Travel Assistance is provided via the following arrangements: -
- Social Worker directly transports the child/family;
- Family Support/Personal Advisor directly transports the child/family;
- Foster Carer directly transports the child;
- Financial support is provided with regard to Public Transport (bus, train);
- Financial support is provided with regard to Taxi;
- Taxi's are commissioned for a period of time (as per Council procedures);
- Secure Travel Assistance is commissioned from Private Provider.
This is in line with the Travel Assistance Strategy for Knowsley.
Travel Assistance is a significant part of the plan for children and families and should support the completion of specific and identified tasks and activities for the child and their family.
Where possible, the carer should be encouraged to undertake transport arrangements for children and young people in placement.
All Travel Assistance requests must evidence consideration of social worker or support worker support with regard to transport arrangements, either in whole or in part. This may include the member of staff using public transport.
Where a child or young person has a Education, Health and Care Plan, home to school Travel Assistance must be provided from the appropriate service and budget.
All children and young people of secondary school age and older should be using public transport unless a risk assessment evidences that they require a taxi. This may relate to a variety of reasons but should be the exception rather than the rule. The risk assessment must be signed off by the Children's Social Care Manager and Service Manager.
Children of primary school age and under may require an escort. The need for an escort must be part of an assessment and authorised by the Children's Social Care Manager and Service Manager.
Where a child is placed with an independent provider, the cost of Travel Assistance arrangements must be included in the cost of the placement.
All adults should be using public transport unless a risk assessment evidences that they require alternative means of travel. This may relate to a variety of reasons but should be the exception rather than the rule. The risk assessment must be signed off by the Children's Social Care Manager and Service Manager.
Where an adult fails to attend an appointment or contact session and financial assistance has been provided, further financial assistance will not be provided until a review has been undertaken. The adult will be required to attend appointments or contact sessions without further financial assistance to meet the funding already provided.
Adults should be travelling the greatest distance in order to see their child (ren) and contact arrangements should be held closest to the placement of the child.
Children and young people cannot change schools until their permanence plan has been agreed. However as soon as is practicable, the child should move to a school closest to their placement address to reduce the demands of Travel Assistance.
The Council's procurement process must be used and authorised by a Service Manager for all taxi journeys. This relates to one off journeys as well as regular journey commitments.
No taxi arrangement can be arranged for longer than 6 weeks and must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure circumstances still demand the use of taxis.
All requests with regard to Secure Travel Assistance arrangements for children or young people must be authorised by a Service Manager and Children and Families Service Manager.
Where the parent or carer is in receipt of mobility allowance with regard to a child or young person, the use of this funding should be explored with regard to Travel Assistance arrangements.
Travel Assistance arrangements for leisure and activity based programmes are included in the above guidance. One off or regular Travel Assistance commitments could possibly be supported via the transport resources of Fullerton Grove and CORDS.
For children with Disabilities, the transport resources of Fullerton Grove and CORDS should be explored and used where available.
The module 4 risk assessment format should be used to evidence the need for taxi arrangements.A review of all Travel Assistance commitments will be undertaken on a quarterly basis within each Service Area to ensure adherence to the Guidance.
5. Monitoring, Review and Reassessment Procedures
Travel Assistance arrangements are subject to line manager and Service Manager approval as part of the Corporate and Children's Social Care procedures.
All Children's Social Care Managers are required to monitor all expenditure on a monthly basis as part of the budget monitoring process.
Children's Social Care Management Team convene a monthly budget meeting to review expenditure and pressures within the budget, to which individual team performance is reviewed.
The 6 week timescale for travel assistance commitments will be reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure circumstances still demand the use of taxis or other funded Travel Assistance arrangement. The review will be held within the Child in Need meetings, Core Group meetings (Child Protection) or core planning meetings (Children Looked After).
Travel Assistance arrangements will be discussed in all statutory reviews relating to children and young people subject to a Child Protection Plan and Children Looked After.
Where Secure Travel Assistance arrangements are required, this must be discussed with and authorised by a Service Manager and the Children and Families Service Manager.Parents and significant adults involved with the child or young person are invited to attend all planning meetings and statutory reviews and will have the opportunity to request a review of the Travel Assistance arrangements at any time.
Knowsley Complaints Policy and Procedure is available for all service users including children and young people to refer to if they wish to make representation regarding the assessment undertaken or services provided.
All service users are provided with a copy of the Knowsley Complaint Leaflet 'Have your Say' as part of the assessment process.
All comments, complaints and compliments are forwarded to the Complaints Officer, whose details are included below.
The Complaint Procedure and associated Guidance can be viewed via the following link: Knowsley Council website.
All responses are in writing to the service user. Where a complaint is received regarding a child or young person from a person who does not have parental responsibility for that child or young person, Data Protection Legislation and Guidance will be considered in the response.
More information is available from:
Children's Social Care Complaints Officer,
Huyton Municipal Buildings,