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1.5.4 Children's Services Transport Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter explains how transport arrangements in Children's Service are agreed and determined with a Safeguarding framework.


Contents

  1. Determine if Transport is Required
  2. Request Transport
  3. Transport Services Group Arrange Transport
  4. Authorise transport
  5. Children's Social Care Cancel the Transport
  6. Amend Transport
  7. Transport Complaints
  8. Financial Procedures
  9. Emergency Financial Procedures
  10. Management Information Recording
  11. Review Transport


1. Determine if Transport is Required

As part of a care assessment for a child's plan the social care worker may identify new services to which the child will require transport. The need is identified through the completion of a Social Care Assessment and recorded as a need in the Child's 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. As part of a child's Care Plan the social care worker will undertake a risk assessment. Even if no risks are identified ensure that the risk assessment form is updated to show that there are no risks.

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

If the transport cannot be provided by the family or the foster parent use the new eligibility criteria to determine if the child is eligible for Social Care transport. If the child does not meet the new eligibility criteria inform the family or foster carer that the child is ineligible for council transport.

If risks have been identified as part of the risk assessment, check if there are any special requirements for transport. Refer to list of special requirements to determine if any of these could be required.


2. Request Transport

In order to request transport from TSG the Children's Social Care Transport Requestor must complete the transport form and e-mail it to TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk. Include within the form the child's details, contact details, the journey details and the risk assessment. Include details of any current transport arrangements and of any child that you think they could potentially share transport with.

The Requestor needs to confirm within the form whether or not the request is for a quote or if transport will definitely need to be provided. If the request is for a quote then TSG will ask for an estimate from the Operator. If however the transport will definitely go ahead then the operator may have to rearrange existing journeys.

TSG receives the request for transport and checks that it is from a Children's Transport Requestor and that the request contains sufficient information to process the request. TSG will request additional information from the Transport Requestor if key details are missing from the form. The Transport Requestor must then provide the additional information requested and send it back to TSG for the request to be processed.

Once the form has been validated TSG input the details of the transport request onto the SEATs Transport system.

TSG will discuss with the Transport Requestor any transport elements that relate to the risk assessment. If after the discussions between TSG and Children's Social Care changes are required to the risk assessment, the Social Care Worker will update and resubmit the risk assessment. Once the risk assessment is completed TSG will centrally file the form.

Based on the risk assessment TSG and the Social Care Worker will decide whether or not it is safe for the child to be transported. If the child is not safe to be transported then the Social Care Worker and TSG will agree that the transport request should be cancelled. The Social Care Worker should then consider alternatives for providing care against the costs associated and then re-submit if appropriate.

If this is an emergency or at short notice then Social Care may need to arrange the transport with the operator and follow existing procedures to carry this out. 


3. Transport Services Group Arrange Transport

Based on the risk assessment provided by Children's Social Care, TSG will determine if the client is able to share transport with other passengers or if they need to travel alone.

If the Service User is able to share transport, TSG check if there are spaces available on existing suitable transport. TSG will check with the Social Care workers responsible for the children that it would be suitable for them to share with each other. If there is no additional cost TSG will request that the Operator adds the passenger to their list and will complete the TSG Options section of the form and return it to Social Care confirming the transport arrangements. If there is a cost associated then a quote will be sent back to the Requestor for authorisation.

If the client is unable to share transport TSG will request quotes from suppliers. TSG will select the most appropriate quote based on price and the client's needs. If there are options which may vary the price, such as travelling at an earlier time, then these options will be put forward to Children's Social Care. TSG will provide guidance on how cost effective this option is and may recommend that the transport is reviewed at a later date in order to find a better deal.


4. Authorise Transport

TSG will input the quote details into the TSG options section of the transport referral form and return the form for authorisation. If the Transport Budget Holder decides not to approve the request then they should inform the Transport Requestor that the transport has not been approved.

A decision will be made as to whether or not other transport options need to be explored or if no transport should be provided. If other transport options should be explored then the Transport Requestor will e-mail the request with the updated details to TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk so that TSG can request re-quotes based on the new transport requirements. If a decision is made not to provide transport, the Transport Requestor will inform TSG that the transport is not required. TSG will then update SEATs.

If the transport is authorised then the Budget Holder will complete the Authorisation section of the referral form and send it with the correct cost code to TSG at TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk, who will confirm with the Transport Contractor that the transport will take place. TSG then update SEATs with the final details of the transport and confirm with Social Care that the transport has been set up. If the transport is for contact TSG will send the family centre the transport details.


5. Transport Services Group Arrange Transport

If the Social Care Worker determines that transport arrangements needs to be cancelled out of hours or at short notice then the Transport Authoriser or Requestor may contact the Transport Contractor directly to cancel transport. They should however e-mail TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk so that TSG are aware that the transport has been cancelled. This allows TSG to update their systems and ensure that Children's Social Care cease to pay for transport.

If the cancellation is not at short notice, e-mail TSG at TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk and request that they cancel the transport. 

TSG will then contact the Operator and cancel the transport. TSG will then update SEATs and notify the Social Care Area that transport has been cancelled. They will include details of any cost reductions.


6.Amend Transport

Amendments can be made by the social worker in charge of the case or the duty social worker. There needs to be a brief explanation of who they are if this differs from the original social care worker. If the amendment need to be arranged out of hours or at short notice the transport budget holder or requestor can contact the transport contractor directly to amend the journey.

If more than one journey needs to be amended then the Social Care worker should amend the first journey and e-mail an amendment referral form to TSG at TransportRequest@lincolnshire.gov.uk to request that TSG amend the other journeys. TSG can then ensure that Children's get the best deal for the transport amendment. TSG should be informed of all amendments made by Children's Social as they will be invoiced by the transport operator for journeys and need to ensure that the amount paid to the contractor is correct.

If a Social Care Worker determines that transport needs to be changed and this is not an emergency or out of TSG office hours then they should complete a transport form to show what details need to be amended. This should then be sent to TSG.

Once TSG receive the form they will check if it contains sufficient information to process the request. If not, TSG will request additional information from the Transport Requestor who will then provide the information and send back to TSG.


7. Transport Complaints

The Parent, TSG, Children's Social Care, the Child, Driver or Foster Parent may identify an issue with the transport. If their complaint is purely related to transport and has no safety implications then this should be directed to TSG as an "Operational" complaint. If such a complaint is raised by or to the Social Care department they should notify TSG of the problem who will then investigate the complaint to see where the problem lies. If the problem lies with the transport provider, TSG will resolve the problem directly with the complainant.

If the complaint is not due to an operational issue with transport then this complaint should be raised with the Children's Social Care area. They should carry out further investigations and notify TSG that these investigations are taking place. If required Children's Social Care will hold a social services Strategy Meeting.


8. Financial Procedures

The TSG Support and Development team receives invoices from operators. Invoices are date stamped on the day or receipt. Transport provision information is entered onto SEATS. SEATS calculates against the relevant contract. If SEATS generates a query, this is entered onto the query database. The details of the query are then sent through to the TSG Business team. The TSG Business team raises query with originator and/or transport provider. If the query is resolved, SEATS is updated and the invoice is sent back to the TSG Support and Development team to be batched up. If not resolved, the invoice is returned to the supplier for re-invoicing.

The invoices with no queries are batched up and sent to the TSG Business team along with the query slip. The TSG Business team checks the invoices against information on SEATS. If everything is OK the payment is authorised and details are entered onto SAP

Invoices are batched and paid within seven working days. SAP Finance team sends Authorisation Report to TSG. If there is an error with any invoices, details are entered onto a batch information form. The form is sent to the support and development team who will rectify the problem and enter the invoice onto the next batch. The TSG Business team raises query with the originator and/or transport provider.


9. Emergency Financial Procedures

Business Support receives an invoice from a transport operator. They determine which area of Children's Social Care this invoice applies to and submit the invoice to the appropriate budget holder. The budget holder should then check who arranged the transport. If it was TSG they should notify business support that they do not need to pay the invoice. The budget holder should then send the invoice to TSG for payment. TSG will ensure that the operator is paid.

If the transport was arranged by the Social Care area then the invoice needs to be paid by business support. The budget holder should complete the authorisation documentation and send to business support so that they can pay the invoice. Business Support will then ensure that the operator is paid.


10. Management Information Recording

TSG will produce management information reports on a monthly basis for each Social Care Budget Holder.

If a Budget Holder identifies a specific need for TSG transport information they can e-mail their requests to HP_Transport_Services_Group and TSG will produce an ad hoc SEATs MI report for the Social Care area.

Before the report is sent, TSG check report for any discrepancies and resolve any issues found with the report. If errors are found they may need to re-run the report. TSG will then e-mail the report to Social Care

Budget Holders. Budget Holders review the reports and use the information to better understand the transport being provided.

If Children's Social Care identifies any issues with the transport within the reports then they should discuss these with TSG. The reports should be used to update interested managers with the transport information held within the report.


11. Review Transport

A transport review should be initiated when:

  • An issue is raised with the child's care which impacts upon transport;
  • The child's care package changes e.g. respite, change of foster parent etc;
  • A Social Worker conducts a review two weeks after the transport has started. This may result in changes to the transport arrangements. TSG should be consulted as part of the review;
  • A Social Worker conducts an annual review of the child's care.

If as part of the review it is identified that:

  • Existing transport need to be cancelled follow the Children's Social Care Cancel Transport process;
  • Existing transport need to be amended follow the Amend Transport process;
  • New transport needs to be set up follow the Request Transport process.

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