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1.3.7 Policy/Procedure Relating to the Transport for Children Open to a Children's Social Care Team

GUIDING PRINCIPALS/POLICY STATEMENT

  • Cumbria County Council has a duty to provide transport for all children under its care. This policy has been developed to ensure the safe and efficient provision of transport for looked after children and children in need between home, school, leisure, contact and any other place or activity as part of the child’s care plan;
  • The safety and wellbeing of children and young people is of paramount importance and will be given priority when making transport arrangements. Arrangements will be authorised and reflect the outcomes of a robust risk assessment, which should reflect the needs and vulnerabilities of the child or young person;
  • The first (preferred) option is always for a child or young person to be transported by someone who has an existing relationship with them such as a carer or their social worker.  Only where this is not possible will alternative provision be arranged;
  • Young people should be consulted by social work staff before transport arrangements are made and their views and wishes taken into account;
  • Children and young people should not be taken to new placements or short breaks without someone they know who can support them appropriately through such a significant transition and stay with them for good quality introductions to their new carers.

RELATED CHAPTER

Child Sexual Exploitation (Cumbria Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual)


Contents

  1. Determining if Transport is Required
  2. Transport to School
  3. Fostering Service
  4. Out of Hours Transport
  5. Respite/Short Breaks Transport
  6. Recording and Reviewing of Transport Plan
  7. Risk Assessments and Transport Request Form
  8. Recording Transport Arrangements
  9. Auditing Compliance with Transport Procedures
  10. Arranging Transport with Taxi Firms or Volunteer Drivers
  11. Financial Arrangements
  12. Cancellation/Amendment of Transport
  13. Parents Travelling Costs
  14. Children and Young People who are Refused Bail and Remanded to Local Authority Accommodation
  15. Deviations From Policy


1. Determining if Transport is Required

As part of an assessment the social care worker may identify a transport need for a child or young person. The need for transport and subsequent details should be recorded within the Child's Plan. The frequency and method of transport to contacts with parents or to other services should be agreed and noted in the plan.

Transport may also be required for contact if a child is taken into care. Transport could be required to respite, school, contact, and other activities.

If transport is required to a service, staff should first speak to a family member, foster parent or alternative carer to determine if they are able to provide the transport for the child.

If the transport cannot be provided by the family or the foster parent, the next preferred option is for the child or young person to be transported by the social worker or child and family worker. Where this is not possible, arrangements can be made to transport the child via taxi in line with agreed procedures outlined in this document.


2. Transport to School

Wherever possible children and young people who live close to their school should travel in the same way as their peers:

  • Be walked to school by their carers; or
  • Walk alone if they are of an appropriate age and can do so safely; or
  • Be driven by their carers and dropped off;
  • Reach school by public transport if they are of an appropriate age and can do so safely.

In house foster carers are expected to meet all their travel costs as part of their fostering allowance, but if the costs are excessive, due to distance or the frequency of arrangements, they can receive a mileage rate for undertaking this transportation. This must be agreed by the fostering Team Manager.

All transport requests must be fully completed by the child' social worker and be agreed by the responsible Team Manager.


3. Fostering Service

Foster carers will normally be expected to undertake ‘normal’ parental duties, which will include taking a child to a local school. Foster carers are expected to meet the cost of any local journeys, including arrangements for children to attend local schools. Where this is not possible, arrangements around travel to school (e.g. for children not attending local schools) must be made individually in the child's Placement Plan.

Foster carers are expected to meet the costs of local travel by car from their weekly allowances which includes a proportion for transport. Payment of mileage claims will be considered by the Fostering Service Team Manager, where the child is taken to a school or contact more than 3 miles away from the home. Mileage claim forms should clearly indicate the deduction of the 3 miles from the round trip. The mileage meter readings must be completed.

Prospective foster carers should always confirm that they can safely provide sufficient space in their existing vehicle (s) for the number of foster children they offer to provide care for.

There may be practical reasons why it is not possible for the foster carer to provide transport for the child, e.g. foster carer does not drive or does not have access to a car, or they may have foster children from different families. However, every effort should be made to ensure carers do provide the transport so that foster children do not feel different e.g. by arriving to school by taxi.


4. Out of Hours Transport

If a child needs to be transported to a place of safety out of working hours, out of hours staff should arrange transport using the same process and approved providers list, obtaining authorisation from the covering manager.


5. Respite/Short Breaks Transport

Transport for respite or short breaks should be arranged in the same way as detailed throughout this procedure.


6. Recording and Reviewing of Transport Plan

All travel arrangements agreed by the social worker should be clearly defined and reflected in the care plan. This should form part of the discussion within the subsequent CLA reviews and be regularly reviewed and updated.


7. Risk Assessments and Transport Request Form

  • An individual child risk assessment and transport request form (previously referred to as form 66) must be completed each time a new transport arrangement is agreed and authorised by the Team Manager;
  • Business Support colleagues have been instructed not to progress transport requests without the appropriate paperwork, and will report non-compliance to the three Business Resource Managers who will liaise with team and service managers to resolve any issues;
  • The risk assessment should be reviewed at regular intervals;
  • A risk assessment is an important tool in ensuring the safety of young people being transported and also to protect drivers and passenger assistants. Health and Safety legislation requires risk assessments to be undertaken. The law does not expect us to be able to eliminate all risks but to protect people as far as ‘reasonably practicable’. Social Workers transporting children in their cars must ensure that a risk assessment, in liaison with their line managers or a covering manager, is carried out before transporting a child;
  • A copy of the risk assessment must be stored on the child’s file and also provided to any relevant parties to enable them to manage the risks effectively (for example, the taxi company) The risk assessment should follow the agreed template, revised in February 2016 to include specific reference to CSE.


8. Recording Transport Arrangements

  • Transport arrangements should be detailed within a child’s care plan and reviewed regularly to ensure they are still appropriate and all relevant documentation is up to date.


9. Auditing Compliance with Transport Procedures

  • The CLA audit form has been amended to pick include a question about transport arrangements being detailed in the care plan, reviewed, risk assessment on file etc;
  • Business support team leaders will conduct a quarterly dip sample audit of transport documentation to ensure arrangements are only being made using the specified forms, authorised providers and processes (including financial processes such as petty cash) Any issues of non-compliance will be reported to the business resource manager for escalation with senior managers;
  • The quarterly compliance check will also review whether long standing payments to families are being managed appropriately;
  • The results of the quarterly compliance check will feed into the quarterly risk monitoring.


10. Arranging Transport with Taxi Firms or Volunteer Drivers

Use of Escorts

  • No child/ren (under 13) should be in a taxi without a responsible adult and ideally it should be someone they know: a carer, member of staff or if this is not possible an approved escort provided by the taxi firm;
  • For older children 13 years and older judgement should be made based on their vulnerability, and reason for travel. Responsibility remains with the worker and Team Manager to ensure all safety aspects have been considered and they have confidence that the most appropriate arrangement has been made.  

Approved Provider List

  • Teams are instructed to only make transport arrangements using firms who are on Cumbria County Council’s approved provider list (or the pool of volunteer drivers in the case of Barrow);
  • When making a taxi booking – social care staff need to obtain the name of the driver and escort from the company on the approved list, and contact by telephone the transport procurement team on: 01228 226441/ 01228 221707 or email via procurement.transport@cumbria.gov.uk mailbox. The procurement team will run a check via the TRANMAN system to establish if the driver and escort are approved for CCC journeys.  If the driver/escort are not held on the TRANMAN system, and the company are unable to provide alternative individuals who are, alternative transport arrangements must be made;
  • Please note – for Out of Hours emergency transport arrangements – it will not be possible to make a TRANMAN check as the staff only work during office hours. Instead it has been agreed that the staff member making a booking must document that they have asked the company to confirm that any drivers/escorts used have been approved and authorised for Cumbria County Council journeys including up to date DBS checks. This must be documented clearly on the transport request form for the child’s file;
  • During Autumn 2016 the formal tendering process for approved providers to be on a ‘call off’ list specifically for social care transport will be concluded and updated processes will be circulated.

Use of Volunteer Drivers

Although this is specific to the Barrow and South Lakes area who use a number of volunteer drivers, it is important that managers and staff adhere to the same principals set out in this document.

DBS and vehicle checks which are currently collated by the business support team will be held centrally on the same database by the procurement team monitoring the taxi contracts

Following the new tendering arrangements for taxi journeys, volunteer drivers and escorts will be required to undertake the same safeguarding e-learning training provided by the LSCB (and in the case of the escorts the face to face escort training that Cumbria County Council provide) that will be required for the taxi drivers tendering for the call off contracts.


11. Financial Arrangements

Payments to transport providers should only be made on receipt of an official invoice which is cross referenced to approved transport request forms and confirmation that the journey took place. Invoices should be certified for payment and forwarded to be paid as per council procedures.

Where petty cash is used to reimburse family members, staff should follow the directorate Cash Handling Procedures revised in September 2015. All relevant documents to support a claim by family members must be retained. Petty cash should not be paid into a company or individual’s bank account.

All expenditure must be approved by a designated authoriser and budget holders should regularly discuss the budget position with those who are authorised to commit expenditure on their behalf per the scheme of delegation. Reimbursements to family members should be monitored by management to ensure best value.

Business support should ensure oversight of long standing arrangements is maintained to ensure payments and arrangements are appropriately ended as circumstances change.


12. Cancellation/Amendment of Transport

Any cancellations or amendments must be notified as soon as possible to the taxi firm, to avoid unnecessary charge to the directorate. Where the taxi has already left the base, the directorate will be liable for cost recovery.


13. Parents Travelling to Contacts

Parents can be assisted with travelling expenses to enable contact to go ahead. The social worker should submit a request for financial support to their manager with the reasons. Once the manager’s approval has been given, the social worker should ask the administrative staff to arrange for the payments to be made or travel warrants to be issued. Receipts for travel should be obtained from parents in all cases before payments are made.


14. Children and Young People who are Refused Bail and Remanded to Local Authority Accommodation

Children aged 10-17 who have been refused bail may be remanded to Local Authority Accommodation with or without conditions. Even if the child was not previously Looked After, they will become a Looked After Child when remanded.

Please see: Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure

Local authority support to the child and their family during this time is important, and efforts should be made to ensure that time on remand does not disrupt existing ties between the child and their community. Care planning should consider the young person’s needs both during the period of remand and following the court hearing. The Care Plan will also need to consider arrangements for the young person’s support should they be convicted and receive a custodial sentence.

Transport to placements should be undertaken by the Local Youth Offending Service in partnership with the allocated Social Worker. This will be based on a full Risk assessment taking place and appropriate liaison between the YOS Area Team Practice Manager and relevant Children’s Service Team Manager.


15. Deviations From Policy

Any deviation from any element of this policy, such as authorising the use of a taxi company not on the approved providers list, can only be done with the explicit written authorisation of a Senior Manager which must be documented and passed to the Business Resource Manager for inclusion in quarterly monitoring. The Senior Manager will have assessed the risks of the situation and take responsibility for this.

End