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1.3.8 The Management of Unallocated Cases in Assessment Support

This chapter was added to the manual in February 2020.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Process of Managing Unallocated Cases

    Appendix 1: Signs of Safety Mapping Tool

    Appendix 2: Template Letter - Unallocated Parent

    Appendix 3: Template Letter - Unallocated Professional

1. Introduction

Our priority and aim is that all children are allocated to a suitably social work qualified worker. If due to workload capacity and staffing availability we are unable to allocate all work in the teams, we will prioritise and ensure that  children, either privately fostered, subject to a Child Protection Plan or Looked After remain allocated.  If this results in Children in Need cases needing reallocation team managers are expected to ensure that there is no capacity for allocation within other teams across their district in the first instance and if allocation is still not possible, the service manager will communicate with other districts to seek another area to support allocation. If it is not possible to allocate a case either within their own district or in another district, the decision for a case to be unallocated sits with the service manager who will ensure there is a risk assessment for each unallocated case.

The risk assessment should be completed and recorded as a management oversight on ICS.  Unallocated cases must be proactively managed by the team duty system. It is the team manager’s responsibility to ensure that the child is being safeguarded and seen on a regular basis (every 4 weeks as a minimum) ; that the plan for the child is being progressed in a timely manner and that good communication is maintained between the child, family and involved professionals. All unallocated District team cases must be reviewed and risk assessed on a weekly basis by the duty Team Manager and a management oversight recorded on ICS. Should a case remain unallocated for a period of two weeks this must be escalated to the relevant Senior Manager for a review and decision how to be progressed and resolved and clearly recorded as a management oversight on ICS.  The Assistant Director needs to be also briefed and updated at this point.

2. The Process of Managing Unallocated Cases 

2.1 Cases that are transferred from The Safeguarding Hub to Support and Protect

  1. Duty social worker undertakes a visit see the child/ren and their bedroom/s within 7 working days of receiving the referral to the district and completes a brief assessment, this will include gathering information from other agency professionals;
  2. Social worker to discuss with duty manager and a risk assessment (need consistent template to be developed) to be completed within 24 hours of the visit;
  3. If the risk assessment determines the case should be allocated as there are safeguarding concerns which need an immediate response, this should be done without delay following procedures. This will require the manager to ask other districts to take the case, if other districts do not have capacity, other work that is not child protection must be de- allocated in order for a worker to have capacity to be allocated the case;
  4. If there is no capacity for other districts to take the case and the risk assessment is that the case can temporarily be unallocated, it will be proactively managed through the duty system. The manager must record on ICS that it has not been possible to allocate due to workload capacity;
  5. The team manager must record a management oversight which outlines the activity that needs to be undertaken by the team’s duty workers, including specific actions and timescales. Such activity will include those tasks that would normally be completed had the case been allocated e.g. duty visits to the child and family and liaising with family and professionals for information and updates;
  6. A duty social worker will be assigned to cover the tasks which relate to unallocated cases with clear oversight by the team manager. The team manager must send letters to the referrer, parents and carers to explain that it has not been possible to allocate a worker with clear details of who they should contact if they need any support or have any concerns. Templates for these letters are included as Appendices need templates for letters) to this procedure. Copies of these letters must be held in documents on ICS;
  7. All duty activity on the child must be recorded on ICS and the team manager ‘notified’ via the ICS system so that they are informed of activity on the case. Upon receiving this notification the team manager should review the case and consider whether any further action is required or whether there needs to be a change of plan for the child. Each duty team manager should have day to day oversight of any activity on unallocated cases the same as they would with all other cases. Irrespective of whether there is any activity on the case, the duty manager should risk assess each case on a weekly basis and determine what activity is needed to ensure any potential risk is being managed safely. This should be recorded as a management oversight on ICS.
  8. If concerns about a child who is unallocated increase then the team manager must make renewed efforts to allocate the case either within their own team or across the service. If this is not possible it should be escalated to a service manager for other possible solutions, the senior manager should be alerted at this stage and Assistant Director made aware.

2.2 Unallocated Child in Need Cases

  1. If a CIN case is unallocated, (this may occur if cases are de-allocated in order to allocate child protection work) points iv. to ix. above must be followed. In addition, the child’s plan must continue to be reviewed and the Child in Need Plan updated within timescales;
  2. If it becomes evident that plans for the child have been successfully implemented and outcomes have been achieved, then it may be appropriate to end social care involvement. In these circumstances there must be a Child In Need review where this is discussed and step down arrangements agreed. This must be communicated by the duty worker to the team manager who will either agree or give further direction which must be recorded on a management oversight. A closure summary and record must be completed and the team manager should review the case for closure as per the usual procedure;
  3. Other agencies must be informed if any CIN work is unallocated and kept informed. All agencies must be made aware of who they should contact regarding the child and family.

2.3 Unallocated Children Looked After Cases

  1. If a CLA case is unallocated, points iv. to ix. above must be followed. In addition, the child’s IRO must be notified. In addition to weekly oversight by the team manager;
  2. The IRO must have weekly oversight and liaise with the team manager to ensure all necessary actions are being taken including steps taken to allocate the case. The child’s plan must be reviewed and updated within timescales.

2.4 Unallocated cases referred for Family Group Conferencing

  1. These will be managed and monitored by the FGC Manager.

2.5 Unallocated Adoption Support cases

  1. These will be managed by the Adoption Support Team Manager who will carry out a risk assessment. The family will be directed to relevant supports via the Calendar of Events in the interim, and offered a consultation if appropriate. They will also be able to access the duty service.

2.6 Unallocated Adults in Adoption and Fostering services

  1. Any waiting list for services will be managed by the relevant Team Manager and service users updated regularly;
  2. Any adopters or foster carers with children placed will have a risk assessment by the Team Manager and be advised how to access the duty service. 


Appendix 1: Signs of Safety Mapping Tool

Appendix 2: Template Letter - Unallocated Parent

Appendix 3: Template Letter - Unallocated Professional