Children with Disabilities Referral Assessment and Planning


Short Breaks Procedure

Fullerton Grove


This chapter was reviewed and updated in December 2020 to identify that unless there is a significant event in the child's life, a new Child and Family assessment must be completed every 12 months, as a minimum to ensure there is an up to date and holistic assessment of the child's needs.

1. Introduction

The Children with Disabilities Team provides services for children with more complex needs related to disability and substantial impairment.

The Practice Standards for Child and Family (C&F) Assessments and Child in Need Planning gives detailed information regarding the procedures for all children, subject to a Child & Family Assessment or Child in Need plan. This includes children with disabilities, so the Practice Standards for Child and Family (C&F) Assessments and Child in Need Planning should be read prior to reading these procedures. The Children with Disabilities procedures have been produced to specifically address the additional factors that may need to be considered when working with children with disabilities and their family.

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.

3. Child and Family Assessment

Assessments should be completed within 35 working days. Social Workers should liaise with all professionals involved with the family to ensure they capture all of the relevant information and that the assessment is holistic and multi-agency. Children with disabilities are often subject to a number of assessments and services should aim to co-ordinate these assessment processes to reduce duplication for the child and family.

If, during the 35 day assessment process the Social Worker has any concerns for the child, they should speak to the Team Manager and send the assessment for review. If acute needs are identified during the assessment process then appropriate support should be considered immediately. There is not requirement to wait until the end of the assessment to provide support.

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.

A standalone Carers Assessment will be completed with eligible carers as requested alongside the Child & Family Assessment. If not specifically requested the child and family assessments will consider the impact of the caring responsibilities on carers and the family as a whole.


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.

4. Planning

The assessment should be discussed with the Team Manager and agreement reached about the appropriate response 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.

When a Child & Family Assessment has been completed and unmet needs are identified, children will be subject to a Child in Need Plan which will enable on-going support to be provided.

Whilst the generic child in need policy states CIN reviews should take place every 6 weeks there are exceptions to this timescale when a child is open to the Children with Disability team. In these cases, the frequency of the Child in Need Review meetings can be reduced. The frequency of the reviews will be discussed with the family and professionals involved, before being agreed with the Team Manager. The agreed frequency of the reviews will reflect the level of needs that the child has and the needs within the family, but will be at minimum of every six months. The exceptions are:

  • If the child is open to the service to offer support the parents/carers, there are no parental/carer deficits and the risk to the child is low;
  • If the child is open to the service for Direct Payments only and the risk to the child is low.

As part of the Child in Need Review, consideration should be given to other plans that are place, such as a Health Care Plan (HCP) or an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) to enable outcomes to be aligned and reduce duplication for the child and family. The outcomes and services from the HCP / EHCP will be recorded in the CIN plan. If the HCP does not reflect the current intervention or needs of the child, the Social Worker must address this with the lead Health professional. If the EHCP does not reflect the current intervention or needs of the child, the Social Worker must request a formal review of the ECHP via the SEND email address:

For children and young people who continue to receive support from the children with disabilities team the Child & Family 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 Child & Family Assessment then a new Child & Family 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 14 years old a referral should be made to MASH to request Adult Social Care Social Worker allocation which will mean that when they are 17 years, transition planning will be underway to facilitate a smooth transition to adult services. If it has not already been completed a Care Act 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.