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2.3.4 Children Moving Across Boundaries


  1. Movement of Children and Families
  2. Children who are being Assessed
  3. Where there are Immediate Concerns about Significant Harm
  4. Temporary Moves

1. Movement of Children and Families

At any stage in the process of working with children and their families, the parents and/or the child/children may move from one household to another; and from one local authority area to another.

The move may be planned and relevant information shared in advance with the professionals and workers involved with the family and child/children.

In some circumstances, however, the move may take place in haste and as an attempt to avoid the involvement of professionals and agencies. In such circumstances, the agencies involved must assess the impact of the change in circumstances on the child/children.

Every effort must be made to ensure that the information to safeguard the child is held where the child is.

The child’s move may be temporary or permanent.

This chapter sets out the actions to be taken in relation to children and families who move across local authority boundaries, either on a temporary or permanent basis, where there is contact with the family by the statutory agencies, and some degree of concern for the child. 

If the child is looked after, see Notification by Other Local Authorities of Looked After Children Placed in Rotherham Procedure.

For children who are subject to a Child Protection Plan and move across boundaries, see:

2. Children who are being Assessed

Work with children and their families may be taking place in the context of:

Each agency has internal procedures which set out how information about children and families is provided to another local authority/health trust/education service/police force area when such movements take place.

A decision must be made by the responsible professionals (in partnership with parents and children whenever possible) where the move is known and planned as to how the information is best shared with the new area.

There should never be any delay in sharing information as all information about a child should be held where the child is residing.

Where there are concerns about a Child in Need who moves across local across boundaries, and a Section 47 Enquiry is being considered or is in progress, it is the responsibility of the local authority where the concerns originated to make decisions as to how to proceed. This, however, must be done in close consultation with the new authority. 

If it is agreed by the new authority that the case can be handed over to them, then a transfer of the case can take place but only after written confirmation has been received from the new authority. Cases are deemed to have been transferred only after such written confirmation has been received.

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 be at risk of 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 and, where Children’s Social Care Services are not already involved, consider whether a referral should be made under the Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure

Where the child is already referred to Children’s Social Care Services and the child cannot be located, the Children and Families who go Missing Procedure should be followed.

3. Where there are Immediate Concerns about Significant Harm

Where emergency action is required because of concerns that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the local authority in whose area the child is found is responsible for taking that action.

Where further enquiries are required, the agencies primarily involved with the child and family should then assess the needs and circumstances of the child and family, and agree action to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child in the longer term.

For children who are subject to a Child Protection Plan and move across boundaries, see:

4. Temporary Moves

A temporary move could cover a range of situations from holiday stays 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 a child who is subject to social intervention, 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 the relevant information and contact numbers. The Lead Social Worker must contact the Children’s Social Care Services team where the child is temporarily resident, providing them with the relevant personal details and the most recent assessment and plan if relevant.