The Disabled Children’s Service provides support and services designed to meet the needs of children and young people who have complex disabilities where the disability has a profound impact on the child or young person’s day to day functioning and on their family life.
This page sets out the eligibility criteria for children/young people to receive a service from the Disabled Children’s Service.
The Disabled Children’s Service has responsibility for children in need, children in need of support, children in need of protection and children looked after to provide a seamless service to children and their families, including siblings, as children’s needs change.
The Legal Framework
The Children Act 1989 (Section 17) states the local authority should recognise a child in need if:
<a) s/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by a local authority under this Part;
(b) her/his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or, further impaired, without the provision of such services;
(c) s/he is disabled
The Equalities Act 2010 says that a person has a disability if:
‘They have a physical or mental impairment and the impact has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day to day activities. ‘
Children must be resident in the London Borough of Islington and aged between 0 to 18 years.
The kinds of indicators which suggest social care assessment and support is best provided by DCS are
- children who are (or who are likely to be) eligible for an Education, Health and Care Plan, which includes the provision of education at a special school for children with disabilities, OR
- where provision in mainstream school is requiring significant additional funding by the LA to that already funded to the school to meet general SEND support needs.
The sort of children who are likely to be eligible are:
- Children who have a diagnosed disability which has been assessed as permanent and severe by a health clinician
- Children who have multiple disabilities. This might also include a disability and a mental health diagnosis which has been assessed as severe and profound by a physician
- Children who have a visual or hearing impairment which is severe or profound (deaf or blind) and requires the use of specialist equipment to support their sensory functioning
- Children who have a physical disability which prohibits their ability to be mobile or confines them permanently to the use of a wheelchair and / or the need to be moved using specialist lifting equipment and OT adaptations within the home.
- Children who have complex health needs ( like severe epilepsy) and may have a palliative, life threatening or life limiting condition and meet the criteria for Continuing Care funding via Whittington Health
- Children who have needs which can only be met by accessing specialist support or there is a need for additional funding above the local short breaks offer to enable a child to access short breaks – click here for information about the Local Offer http://www.islington.gov.uk/services/social-carehealth/disabled-people/local-offer/life-leisure/leisure-actvities/shortbreaks/Pages/default.aspx
- Children with a diagnosed disability whose parent/carer are assessed as requiring overnight short breaks
- Children who are placed in disability residential education/health and /or care provision via JAP
They are unlikely to be children where:
- Their challenging behaviour is not linked to a diagnosis of autism or learning difficulties (e.g. a child might be diagnosed with attachment disorder or conduct disorder).
- Where mental health is the primary diagnosis and any resulting impact on behaviour and/or learning are secondary.
- Children who are diagnosed only with ADD/ADHD or Aspergers Syndrome.
- The disability is not permanent or substantial
Key factors in making a decision on referral
DCT primarily use health information to determine eligibility either directly from health professionals or from reports. Social workers will also use information from a child’s education, health and care plan (or old statement if this is not yet converted) and consult Pupil Services (Short Breaks commissioning team).
Key information about a child’s developmental needs and the impact of these are considered in relation to a child without disabilities of the same age.
The following areas will feature as part of the detailed impact assessment:
- physical difficulties
- mental health
- eating and drinking
- toileting behaviour
- sensory needs
- independence and capacity to develop skills
- ability to cope with transitions and change
- ability to make relationships and friendships ? need for specialist equipment at home or in the community
- capacity to use public transport or travel in a car.
Where eligibility is unclear prior to assessment
If eligibility remains unclear, DCT may offer an assessment to gather more information to help determine eligibility. Alternatively consultation could be offered to a CIN / CLA or Early Help Team to support an assessment of a child in universal or targeted services.
Where there are safeguarding concerns, it is essential that a child’s welfare is not put at risk while these discussions take place.
Where a difference of view cannot be resolved at team manager level, matters should be escalated to service managers who will make a final decision.
The expectation is that decisions are made in a spirit of working in partnership and that the child’s best interests are always paramount.
Options for Support
For all children the first options for support will always be resources within the family and community. Universal services aim to be accessible and inclusive for disabled children wherever possible. Islington also has a comprehensive Short Breaks Local Offer to ensure disabled children are able to access community based activities and provide a break for their parents or carers.
Targeted short breaks can offer help to access universal services or where this has not been possible support children to use targeted short breaks and schemes for children with higher needs.
Eligibility for Support using a Personal Budget
If universal and targeted services have been considered and a child’s needs cannot be met here, specialist services or a higher level of short breaks may be appropriate and a child may be eligible for a personal budget.
An assessment for social care support via a personal budget is always completed by a social worker in the Disabled Children’s Team.
A personal budget is an amount of money agreed to meet a child’s assessed social care needs and the outcomes agreed in the child’s support plan and signed off by a board. A plan may include direct services, services organised by the parent via a direct payment or a combination of both. The aim of a personal budget is to provide more choice and control and a more individualised approach to provision of support for children with complex disabilities.
Assessing family needs
Parent carer needs, the needs of any siblings and the impact of caring for families are carefully considered as part of a comprehensive child and family assessment undertaken by the social worker. Assessments and support planning embrace a Think Family approach and ensure breaks and support for parents and support for siblings are explicitly considered alongside access to positive activities for a disabled child. In most instances parents feel that this offers a sufficient consideration of their family’s needs. However there may be instances where a more in depth consideration of parent carer needs is required and a standalone parent carer assessment is available where there is a need for this.