Disabled Children's Services

1. Criteria

1.1 The criteria for the Disabled Children Service establishes the threshold at which a referral in relation to disabled child will be accepted on the basis that the child requires a specialist social care service.
1.2 Where a child has disabilities which appear to meet the criteria and particularly call for specialist intervention, these cases will be referred to the Disabled Children (0-15 years) or Young People's Teams (16-25 years).
1.3 The criteria are that the child must have a permanent or long lasting disability (diagnosed by a doctor or consultant) and be severely or profoundly impaired. See Eligibility Criteria. (see Appendix A: Kent County Council Disabled Children & Young People's Service – Eligibility Criteria 0-18 Years).
1.4 The criteria do not include children diagnosed with ADHD or a psychiatric illness.
1.5 Any children diagnosed with ADHD or a psychiatric illness will only be eligible for referral to the Disabled Children Service, therefore, if they also have other disabilities which meet the criteria.
1.6 Where mainstream social workers hold cases of children who might be considered to be disabled, appropriate advice and support can be made available from the specialist Disabled Children or Young People teams.

2. Referral Process

Caption: Referral Process
2.1 Where a referral is received and it appears that the criteria for the Disabled Children Service are met, consultation will take place and advice sought as to whether the criteria for transferring the case are met. Where there are child protection concerns, see Section 4, Child Protection Cases.
2.2 Where there is a dispute, the matter should be discussed between the relevant team managers with a view to resolution.
2.3 Where the dispute remains unresolved, the matter should be referred to the Service Managers with a view to resolution.

3. Assessment Process

3.1 All children who meet the criteria for the Disabled Children Service including the Sensory Children and Families Team will receive a Child and Family Assessment to consider their need for services. For young people aged 16-18 this will be recorded on a Young Person's Plan – Assessment.
3.2 The Child and Family Assessment will be carried out in consultation with the family, using information from other professionals as appropriate.
3.3 It is the impact the disability has on daily living that is a key part of the assessment.

Additional specialist assessments will be commissioned as necessary from:

  • Occupational Therapy;
  • Sensory Impairment.
3.5 The assessment may identify that needs arise due to a child's disability or as a result of a parent's health or disability or a child may be in need of protection from abuse or neglect - see Section 4, Child Protection Cases.
3.6 Parents of disabled children and the child (depending on their age and level of understanding) will be given information about the Disability Register - see Section 7, Disability Register.

4. Child Protection Cases

4.1 With new referrals (i.e. where the case is not open to the DC Service) where the primary concern is child protection, following the Child and Family Assessment carried out by the Children's Social Work Team, a discussion will take place between the relevant team managers within the Children's Social Work Team and the Disabled Children Service as to which team will hold responsibility for the case. Where the Children's Social Work Team retain responsibility for the child's case, appropriate advice will be provided by the DC Service relating to issues arising from any disability. However, the assessment process and any instigation of child protection procedures will remain the responsibility of the Children's Social Work Team until such time as the case is formally transferred.
4.2 The Disabled Children Service will usually undertake all Section 47 Enquiries, assessments and legal proceedings in respect of children who are already open cases, although appropriate consultation will be made with colleagues in Children's Social Work Team regarding practice issues if required. If the disabled child has siblings who are not currently open to the Children's Social Work teams, the Front Door Service must be notified and will take the lead in the initial Strategy Discussion. The siblings will be referred to the relevant District Social Work team and both the Disabled Children Team Manager and the District Social Work Team Manager will attend the Strategy Discussion so that information is shared and decisions made within the same meeting.
4.3 In cases where there is a disabled child as one of a group of siblings under Child Protection Procedures, joint working will occur between the Disabled Children and the Children's Social Work Teams as agreed between the respective team managers and the workers' responsibilities recorded in each child's case summary.

5. Services to Disabled Children

As a general principle, where children and families can receive mainstream services, these should be provided as a way of minimising the impact of disability and avoiding any unnecessary segregation.

Where the assessment identifies that specialist services are required, these may be provided by health or voluntary agencies as well as the local authority. The assessment will make recommendations as to the kind of services or equipment that are required to meet the child's needs.

Any recommendation for the provision of equipment requires the involvement of the Occupational Therapists in the teams. If approved, equipment will usually be provided on a long term loan basis. Adaptation work through a Disabilities Facilities Grant can be carried out by referral to the local authority and the family will be given assistance with this by the Occupational Therapists.

The support services that may be included in a support package for a disabled child and their family range from:

  • The provision of information on activities, clubs, playgroups and play schemes;
  • The provision of advice and information about other organisations which may be able to offer help and support;
  • Support for the child in/outside the home;
  • Day care services such as childminding;
  • Short breaks providing overnight care - see Short Breaks Procedure;
  • Support services using direct payments - see the Disabled Children and Young People Direct Payments Procedure.

When services have been agreed, they will be incorporated into a Child in Need Plan - or, where the child comes into care, a Care Plan or Short Break Plan. For young people aged 16-18 the Young Person's Plan – will be used.

6. Services to Carers

Services can also be provided to carers where the child is disabled. Under The Children and Families Act 2014, carers are entitled to an assessment of their own needs, for further information see: Parent Carer Needs Assessment Document. Under the Care Act 2014 carers of young people approaching transition can ask for an assessment of their needs as a carer in anticipation of the young person becoming 18. Kent County Council contracts with Carers' organizations to carry out these assessments.

7. Disability Register

The Disability Register holds information about disabled children and is a legal requirement for all local authorities.

Parents are asked whether they wish to supply information about their child for inclusion on the register.

The register is used to plan and develop services for disabled children and also to assist Adult Services with information on future service needs.

8. Reviews

Reviews of Child in Need or Young Person Plans for disabled children take place within 3 months of the start of the plan and thereafter at least six -monthly. Reviews are conducted more frequently where circumstances require it, e.g. where there has been a significant change in the child's circumstances or with the resource or resources involved.

The review is usually conducted by the allocated worker contacting all those involved in the plan. The worker will then prepare a summary of the comments and observations made and present it to the Disabled children or Young People's Team manager for approval. Where necessary, changes to the Child in Need or Young Person's Plan will be made and the amended plan circulated to all involved as set out in Child in Need Plans and Meetings Policy.

For reviews of children in receipt of short breaks, see Short Breaks Procedure.

Appendix A: Kent County Council Disabled Children & Young People's Service – Eligibility Criteria 0-18 Years

Click here to view Appendix A: Kent County Council Disabled Children & Young People's Service – Eligibility Criteria 0-18 Years.