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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Social care support

Families with a disabled child may require additional support from social care services.

Our Disabled Children’s Service (DCS) offers support as well as advice and practical help, in addition to, or in partnership with, early help. The type of support families could receive depends on the individual needs of your child and family.

We identify needs through an assessment. This just means that we talk to you to gather information about your child and family to make sure you get the right help, at the right time and in the right place.

The support available

There are four levels of support available for disabled children and their families. They are:

  • universal services that all families can access
  • early help
  • targeted support provided by the council which may include support from our Disabled Children’s Service
  • specialist support from our Social Work Teams

Universal services

Universal services are those services that anyone can use. They are open to everyone across Devon, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.

Most families will get the support they need by accessing universal services. Any professional who knows your family, for example, a health visitor, teacher, school nurse, or GP can help you explore the universal services available in your local area.

You can also search online:

These services can help families where your child:

  • has additional care needs that are being met by you and your family
  • requires support to broaden their experiences or prevent a build-up of stress in your family or both
  • has a sensory impairment or learning disability that does not impact significantly on their care need
  • has emotional or behavioural difficulties or both which are not linked to a chronic and enduring disability

Examples of universal services include:

  • midwifery
  • primary care services (including GPs)
  • health visitors
  • school nurses
  • dental practices
  • early years settings
  • schools
  • voluntary sector services
  • faith groups
  • library and information services
  • further education
  • benefits agencies

You can find more information on our SEND Local Offer pages about:

Targeted support

For more information about available events and activities, please see our list of inclusive and short break activities. Please also refer to the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme pages for provision available during the school holidays.

In addition to universal services and early help, targeted support is available for children and families that have been assessed as having eligible support needs.

Targeted support may be appropriate where your disabled child:

  • requires intensive help and support to meet their needs – the majority of children with complex needs will already have been receiving support through early help, or have been assessed by a social worker.
  • has a clinical diagnosis with complex needs that can’t be met by the range of universal and targeted services available.
  • requires night-time supervision
  • has an autistic spectrum condition with severe learning disabilities or behaviour which is very challenging or behaviour associated with other impairments, for example, global development delay or health condition
  • displays behaviour that is challenging to manage and/or self-harm linked to a chronic and enduring disability
  • has complex health conditions which are likely to be life-limiting
  • has sensory impairments
  • requires the provision of targeted support in order for you, as parents/carers to meet their additional needs

When we look at what support your child needs through the assessment, we also consider the needs of the rest of your family. For targeted support these needs might include:

  • sibling needs – your disabled child’s needs are impacting on their siblings’ opportunities
  • parent or carer needs – your disabled child’s needs are impacting on your wellbeing and personal life
  • parenting – you are able to meet your child’s needs but may benefit from specific and time-limited advice, information or support

If our assessment identifies that your child is eligible for targeted support, your child’s social care representative will work with you to put together a support plan. They will discuss what you think would make the most difference to your child and family and how best to access that support.

This level of support can include different services and support, including those which are provided by our partners. Short breaks should be part of a wider plan and should not be provided in isolation. These give disabled children and young people an opportunity to enjoy different experiences, meet new people through social and leisure activities to help them form friendships, feel part of the community and build skills in preparation for adulthood while giving their families a break from their caring responsibilities, where they would otherwise be unable to access these opportunities. Find out more about short breaks.

Short breaks may be appropriate if your disabled child:

  • needs help to regularly access services to support their social care needs and development and/or alleviate stress in the family which may lead to needing targeted or specialist support
  • needs extra help to participate in community activities to aid their social and emotional development and this need cannot be met by other accessible provision.

Your child’s plan could also involve some signposting or referring to relevant support services for your family. This may include:

  • SEND support
  • Devon Early Years Complex Needs Service
  • childminding (including special needs childminders)
  • therapeutic physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • ROVIC service
  • speech and language input and associated aids
  • community nursing
  • voluntary sector provision as part of a care package
  • early help
  • signposting to charity support
  • Parent Carer Forum Devon

The Devon Wallet

The Devon Wallet is a new and exciting platform to support the delivery of direct payments and personal budgets, starting with short break plans. This is part of a gradual plan to move from our current prepaid card system to the Devon Wallet. Find out more about the Devon Wallet.

Specialist support

In addition to universal services, early help and targeted support (including short breaks), specialist support is available for those children and families that have been assessed as eligible.

Children and young people who require specialist support will if this is assessed as necessary, have an allocated social worker who will coordinate a multi-agency support plan.

Specialist support may be needed where your disabled child:

  • has very complex needs which means they require intensive support and supervision to stay safe, they require prolonged frequent night-time attention and can’t be cared for easily at home without the support of additional services
  • has an autism spectrum condition and their behaviour regularly means they harm themselves or others, which means they could be at risk of requiring physical intervention
  • requires services to prevent further risk of significant impairment that would affect their growth, development, physical or emotional health and well-being or to prevent/postpone the need for them to be provided accommodation.

Specialist support will be required where a child or young person has experienced serious forms of abuse and/or neglect or is likely to experience serious forms of abuse or neglect or both without support, which means they need protecting.

When we look at what support your child needs, we also consider the needs of the rest of the family. For specialist support these needs might include:

  • sibling needs – where balancing the essential needs of all children in your household is difficult, resulting in likely significant impairment of your disabled child’s siblings health and/or development
  • parent/carer needs – caring for your disabled child or young person is having a significant detrimental impact on your wellbeing and personal life
  • parenting – you have your own additional areas of need for support which is significantly impacting upon your ability to meet your child’s needs; there is a risk of family breakdown if specialist support is not provided and/or you are struggling to meet your child’s essential care or medical needs and stimulation, despite support provided, leading to high risk of your child coming into care

Families assessed as needing specialist support are likely to have a child or young person who has complex needs and will require ongoing support through to their 18th birthday and beyond.

If your assessment shows your child needs specialist support your child’s social worker will work with you to put together a support plan, also known as a ‘Child in Need’ plan. They will discuss what you think would make the most difference to your child and family and how best to access that support.

Examples of services include:

  • complex health care services
  • specialist sensory therapy – see more on sensory impairment support
  • specialist educational provision
  • targeted outreach
  • family support
  • intensive behaviour support
  • short breaks
  • assessment for specialist equipment and/or adaptations
  • occupational therapy access to specialist equipment and adaptations
  • domiciliary care (in the home)
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), emotional well-being and other health services
  • planned overnight short breaks
  • specialist therapeutic residential placements
  • foster care

For more information about available events and activities, please see our list of inclusive and short break activities. Please also refer to the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme pages for provision available during the school holidays.


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