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3.3 Children with Disabilities Referral Assessment and Planning


Short Breaks Procedure

Fullerton Grove


This chapter was reviewed and updated in December 2017 to identify that unless there is a significant event in the child’s life, a new single assessment must be completed after 12 months to ensure there is an up to date and holistic assessment of the child’s needs.

This chapter is currently under review.


  1. Introduction
  2. Referrals
  3. Single Assessment
  4. Single Assessment - more comprehensively completed
  5. Needs Assessment Matrix
  6. Planning
  7. Children with Disabilities Needs Assessment Matrix

1. Introduction

The Children with Disabilities Team provides services at Level 4 of Knowsley's Family Support Framework for children with more complex needs related to disability and substantial impairment.

The Referral and Assessment Procedures give detailed information regarding Children's Services referral and assessment processes. These processes apply to assessments in respect of children with disabilities.

However there are additional factors to be considered in respect of referrals and assessments concerning a child with disabilities that are covered in these procedures.

2. Referrals

Children's Social Care referrals in respect of children and young people with disabilities are received via MASH. If the information in a new referral indicates that disability is the main factor in the child's and family's needs, the referral will be forwarded directly to the Children with Disabilities Team Manager.

However, many referrals will concern families where only one of a group of siblings has a disability. If the child's disability is not the dominant issue in the presenting problem the referral should be allocated to one of the Child Protection Assessment Teams who should consult with the Children with Disabilities Team when professional expertise in respect of the child's disability is required.

If the referral does not meet the threshold for Level 4 Children's Social Care then the referral should be progressed to the Family First Level 3 service. There is provision within the team to assess the needs of Children with Disabilities and provide support or signposting to services to meet the needs at either level 2 or 3.

3. Single Assessment

The Single Assessment can be briefly undertaken from the initially available information on all 3 dimensions of the Assessment Framework from which initial conclusions can be drawn. The Assessment must evidence that the child has been seen as part of the assessment.

Assessments should be completed regarding all new referrals within 7 working days, in line with Framework for Assessment timescales. Signposting to other services or limited social work input may result from the Assessment.

When completing a Single Assessments for all children 4 years and under, the social worker must contact the Child Development Centre to see if the child/family are currently known or previously known to them. Children affected by disability may be subject to a number of statutory assessments and services should aim to coordinate these assessment processes to reduce duplication for the child and family.

If the Single Assessment indicates the child and family have complex needs then it should be more fully developed.

4. Single Assessment - more comprehensively completed

Assessments of children with disabilities should be based on the uniqueness of each child and family and take full account of any factors that may serve to hinder the achievement of the five outcomes for children specified in the Children Act 2004:

  • Physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
  • Protection from harm and neglect;
  • Education, training and recreation;
  • Contribution to society;
  • Social and economic well-being.

The assessment should consider the needs of the child, the strengths and needs of the parents/carers and how looking after the child impacts on their lives, the environment within which the child is living and how safe and suitable that is, and the support networks for the child and the family.

To assist this assessment and analysis of its implications for the provision of services, an assessment tool - the Needs Assessment Matrix (which assesses the needs of a child with disabilities within each of the five Outcomes) - may be completed.

The assessment is completed in partnership with the family and other professionals, and will include the views of the child and their carers. The social worker completing the assessment should ensure that families are given information about the Assessment Matrix, and an explanation of how it is completed and used.

A standalone Carers Assessment should always be offered to eligible carers when completing the Single Assessment of the child's needs. The lead professional and Service/team would be negotiated between managers and informed by the child and family's needs.


The Children and Families Act 2014

(1) A local authority in England must, if the conditions in subsections (3) and (4) are met, assess whether a parent carer within their area has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are.

(2) In this Part “parent carer” means a person aged 18 or over who provides or intends to provide care for a disabled child for whom the person has parental responsibility.

(3) The first condition is that:

  1. It appears to the authority that the parent carer may have needs for support, or
  2. The authority receive a request from the parent carer to assess the parent carer’s needs for support.

(4) The second condition is that the local authority are satisfied that the disabled child cared for and the disabled child’s family are persons for whom they may provide or arrange for the provision of services under Section 17.

5. Needs Assessment Matrix

The Needs Assessment Matrix may be used to form a judgement on the child's level of need on each of the dimensions within the Assessment Matrix and on the overall level of need. The child’s disability should be recognised, but not immediately require a level 4 intervention, as the assessment should be holistic.


  • A preponderance of ticks in one category would usually lead to an overall judgement in that category;
  • However, the judgement on the overall level of need will require the exercise of professional judgement as to whether some dimensions carry a heavier weighting than others resulting in a high level of need in just a small number of dimensions leading to an overall judgement of a high level of need because of the severity of need in those particular areas.

The decision on the overall level of need will indicate the type and level of services that may need to be provided.

Children with a low level of need may require a short-term piece of work from Level 3 early help on specific issues or referral for other services such as Family First at Level 3 but will not receive an ongoing social work service. Children with a moderate and high level of need are likely to need ongoing services provided within a multi-agency Child in Need Plan.

Having decided the overall level of need for the individual child, the social worker will discuss the range of services available to the child and family including the appropriateness of using a Direct Payment to enable the child or family to purchase an equivalent service. The services to be provided should be specified in the Services to be provided section of the Needs Assessment Matrix.


The Children with Disabilities Team is one of a range of services that can provide support for a child/young person with disabilities and their family. Other services include Health, Education, Children’s Centres, Leisure, Youth Services and Voluntary Agencies. These services work together to provide help for children/young people in need and therefore the assessment may be used to access services from other providers as well as the Children with Disabilities Team.

The completed Assessment Matrix should be attached to the Single Assessment.

6. Planning

The assessment should be discussed with the Team Manager and agreement reached about the appropriate level of need and the services to be provided. If specific needs are identified, such as short breaks, the Social Worker and Team Manager will discuss the need to present to Knowsley Complex Care and Resource Panel Procedure.

A Child in Need Plan will be completed for children with a moderate and high level of need where a Single Assessment has been completed and ongoing services are to be provided. This Plan will be regularly reviewed and levels and types of services provided may be changed to respond to the changing needs of the child and family.

For children and young people who continue to receive support from the children with disabilities team the Single Assessment should be updated when a significant change in circumstances occurs or if the support plan requires revision. If there are no significant changes in the twelve month period since the last Single Assessment then a new single assessment must be completed to ensure that there is an up to date holistic assessment of the child’s needs to inform any change in the support plan.

For all young people who are 17 years, transition planning should be underway to facilitate a smooth transition to adult services. If it has not already been completed a Social Care assessment of need must be completed by the transitions social worker from Adult Social Care in cooperation with the children’s social worker, and this should inform the transition plan.

7. Children with Disabilities Needs Assessment Matrix

Click here for the Children with Disabilities Needs Assessment Matrix.