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Guide: Getting an assessment and accessing support from the Disabled Children's Service

Specialist support

In addition to universal services, early help and additional support (including short breaks), specialist support is available for those children and families that our Disabled Children’s Service has assessed as eligible.

Children and young people who require specialist support will have an allocated social worker who will coordinate a multi-agency support plan.

Specialist support may be needed where your disabled child or young person:

  • has very complex needs which mean 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 go into care

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 and/or neglect 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
  • 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