Islington Council Disabled Children’s Service is an integrated, multi-agency and co-located partnership of services offering information, advice, assessment, intervention and support to children with severe and complex Disability needs who may receive Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support Plan in School or have an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).
It provides services for Disabled Children and Young People aged 0-18 (social care) and 0-19 (health) and potentially young adults with Disabilities from 14 - 25 years via the Progression to Adulthood (PFA) Transition Team and Islington Learning Disabilities Partnership (ILDP) Transition Team based within adults services.
The DCS Threshold Statement sets out the eligibility criteria for children/young people to receive a service from the Disabled Children’s Service.
There are eight social care teams within the Islington Disabled Children’s Service, see following links for further information, contact and referral details for each team:
The Disabled Children's Service works in partnership with Islington SEND Community Support Service (SENDIAS), which provides a range of information and support to parents and carers in the borough and can be approached directly by families or professionals.
Likewise, our Short Breaks Service for children with Disabilities can consider requests for additional support without necessarily the need for an assessment, and offers a range of breaks and activities including after school clubs, holiday play schemes and outreach services.
NB If you are worried a disabled child may be at risk of harm you should always contact the Social Work Duty Team directly on 020 7527 3366.
COVID-19 - Update
The Disabled Children’s Social Work Team are visiting children and accepting referrals as usual at this time. During the formal lockdown period and during Tier 4 restrictions children are being visited only if there are safeguarding concerns. If restrictions are lifted we will endeavour to continue to visit children with a Child in Need Plan every 4 weeks, and children on Child Protection plans every 2 weeks. Children that are newly referred to the team are seen within 10 working days. Exceptions are made for families that have symptoms or are self-isolating; we are able to offer virtual visits to these families via video call.
Meetings relating to children (Child in Need reviews, Child Protection Conferences, and Team around the Child meetings, for example) are held virtually to avoid families and professionals having to travel and meeting large groups.
Social workers are advised to wear full PPE on all visits and to use hand-sanitiser before entering family homes. Social workers are working from home on most days, with a duty manager and duty social worker operating from 222 Upper Street on weekdays, on a rota basis within the team. This is to deal with emergency issues and to manage our duty and referral front door. Families are discouraged from dropping into 222 with queries, other than to collect PPE, laptops or food vouchers if this has been pre-arranged.
As the rules and restrictions around social contact change, then policies around visits will be adjusted accordingly as an ongoing process.
The Disabled Children’s Family Support and Reviewing Team (FSRT) are continuing to visit children every 6 months when Covid restrictions are permitting and we are now completing annual Child in need (CIN) review meetings, so Personal Budgets can be reviewed in a timely way. The Covid Pandemic period has been one of unprecedented change. From the date of lockdown until the present families eligible for a personal budget have been able to use their child’s personal budget more flexibly than usual. This has also been the case for families accessing the local offer.
Families are asked not to use their Personal Budget funding to buy equipment, activities only for siblings, clothing, food, drink, educational text books or online educational tutoring/ sites/ subscriptions, health therapies. Each family is assessed on their own merit and the decision making process is on a needs led basis, we therefore cannot take a blanket approach when agreeing any items for families using a Personal Budget. We advise that families get quotes for activities, resources and postage themselves, before the council authorises items.
We have continued to track changes to personal budgets so have a clear idea of what support has been accessed, we can provide parents with this information as needed. From September 2020 we have gradually re-commenced CIN reviews virtually, although there may be some delays to arranging annual CIN review meetings due to Covid restrictions.
We are talking to families to explore their individual circumstances and to look at their Support Plans and Personal Budget to find out the demand for Short Breaks Schemes so we can establish the following:
Working out how many children we can safely run targeted Short Breaks play schemes for, whilst maintaining social distancing ‘bubbles’
Discussing how universal services such as adventure Playgrounds and childcare provision can re-open and run safely
Discussing with families if it is safe for their children to attend and if they want to be considered for a place at one play scheme
The Council will then co-ordinate the allocation of the places at play schemes. This includes how to do this in a fair and safe way.
Due to Covid restrictions Families may be unlikely to access the short break services that were requested or planned for their child, and are only likely to be able to attend one provider service. Play schemes will run where the service provider is able to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of children, their families and staff. Sadly many providers are currently not taking on any new children during the pandemic, but some commissioned agencies are reporting that staff may be available to work on a 121 basis with a child in the community.
Provision of Covid related Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Since the Pandemic we have continued to provide PPE via Visors, Face Masks, Gloves and Aprons to Personal Assistants and Support Workers who are employed by families through Direct Payments and Personal Budgets and would not usually be required to use PPE to care for a disabled child.
The Disabled Children’s Direct Payments Team - The Payments Team are supporting families to receive their support flexibly through changes in Support Plans to include creative ways of providing support whilst centres and after school clubs were closed down to give parents respite in these difficult times. Additional payments have been processed to support families during this period for additional Covid-19 support items.
The Disabled Childrens Family Outreach Team (FOT) and the Disabled Children’s Transforming Care, Prevention and Support Service (TCaPS) will continue to offer a service of outreach and direct support if covid-19 restrictions permit. During Tier 4 restrictions some Virtual support will also be provided on media platforms of the parents’ choice (where permitted).
The Islington SEND Community Support Service are continuing to support families using virtual communication.