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Care and family support for under 5's

If you think or know your child is disabled, you are entitled to request a formal assessment.The assessment may be done as part of a self assessment, a carers assessment, early help referral or a child in need assessment.

Assessments consider a range of factors including your child’s health, developmental needs, disability, education, home and family circumstances, along with factors relating to your child’s social opportunities and life beyond home.

Support if your child is disabled

If your child is disabled, you can access support according to their needs. Children who meet the priority and eligibility criteria as children in need, which includes those who are disabled, are eligible for the services. A child in need is defined in law as a child aged under 18 who:

  • is disabled
  • needs local authority services to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development
  • needs local authority services to prevent significant or further harm to health or development

The referral coordinator in the Children’s Assessment Team will establish if an initial assessment is required in order to gain a greater understanding about your child’s needs and the level of support that will be needed.

Eligibility criteria

Your family will have an assessment to see if the eligibility criteria for disability support are met. If your child does not meet the eligibility criteria you will be offered advice about other services. Information about how levels of need are determined can be found in our eligibility framework.

Service support and eligibility criteria for disabled children and young people

General positionDisabled child's needsSiblings' needsParents' or carers' needsLevel of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Child leading life as normally as possible and needs easily met by familyNoneChild’s needs do not significantly impact on siblings' opportunitiesChild’s needs do not significantly impact on parents personal or social livesNone
 Child’s level of needs limit their participation in community activities and their development would benefit from additional social and leisure activitiesChild’s needs are restricting siblings opportunitiesChild’s needs are impacting on parents personal or social livesNone
Child receives additional support in learning or education.Child’s level of needs result in them being unable to participate in community activities which increases impairmentChild’s needs significantly restrict siblings personal or social livesParents need to provide significant care to other dependants who would otherwise be at risk, or child’s needs are significantly impacting on parents personal or social livesLower DLA
Child very vulnerable to risk of significant impairment of health or development, or need for long term accommodationChild’s level of need results in lifelong impact with likely lifetime support from statutory social care servicesChild’s needs are impacting on outcomes for siblingsChild’s needs met but at significant cost to their own physical or mental health, or serious risk of family breakdownHigher DLA
To prevent the need for long term accommodation, child receives significant additional support in learning or educationChild’s essential care or medical needs or need for emotional development and stimulation cannot be metSiblings’ essential needs cannot be met because of disabled child’s needs.Neither child’s nor parents’ essential needs are being met.Higher DLA

If your child is assessed and considered to be disabled, you will be offered appropriate services according to your child’s need. You will then be referred by the assessment team to the disabled children’s team which is a team of social workers and support staff who specialise in offering support for children with profound disabilities and their families. Experienced social workers in the team work with parents, carers and partner agencies to improve outcomes for children and young people who have a variety of needs.

You will be offered the following services as our core offer:

  • access to a relevant professional who can provide advice and support on our services. You will be offered support and advice which will include information on opportunities for children to have fun and in some cases, long-term care, assessment for short breaks (respite) and direct payments as well as benefit advice
  • information about services that provide higher levels of support where this is required, and details about referral processes and eligibility criteria for these services

Where a child or young person has been assessed as having social care needs in relation to their SEN or disabilities, social care teams must secure social care provision which has been assessed as being necessary to support a child or young person’s SEN and which is specified in their education, health and care plan.

The term social care applies to the benefits that the family and disabled child would receive if they meet the eligibility criteria, for example short breaks.

Additional needs registration

We maintain a register of all children and young people with additional needs – this is a legal requirement. The information you provide is essential to ensure appropriate services are planned for, evaluated and developed.

Register your child on the additional needs list

You do not have to put your child’s name on the register but, if you do, it helps the appropriate agencies to involve you and your child in planning and shaping future services for disabled children.

For further information on the children and young people with additional needs list, contact the Heathway Centre.

For further details of our range of services, contact the Family Information Service.

Personal short break grant (PSBG)

The PSBG application form and process has been replaced with the Short Breaks 4 Me virtual e-wallet marketplace. The grant is now offered as a virtual £200 allowance which is paid into your Short Breaks 4 Me online account. All applications must be completed online. You will need an email address to complete your application.

More information is available from The Heathway Centre.

The Heathway Centre

The Heathway Centre is an inclusive resource centre for families with children and young people aged 0 to 17 years with additional needs or disabilities. It runs a range of groups for children and young people with special needs including pre-school activities and youth clubs.

The centre also advises on long-term care, short breaks (respite), direct payments, benefit advice and information about services that provide higher levels of support.

More information about The Heathway Centre.

Disablement Association of Barking and Dagenham (DABD)

DABD provides a range of personalised respite services including short breaks, personal budgets and social service referrals. It can also provide trained support workers under a young person’s respite or short breaks package to enable them to attend activities if they have complex medical needs and/or challenging behaviour.

More information about DABD.

Equipment and adaptations

If your child needs equipment or adaptations at home, they will be assessed by an occupational therapist who will look at access in and around the home. They will work with you and your child to find solutions to make life easier. This might involve assessing their self care skills such as dressing and brushing teeth and school skills such as using a pencil and scissors as well taking part in playing.

They will also assess your child's equipment needs and can make recommendations about adaptations and equipment and support with re-housing to more suitable accommodation.   

Referrals are made by doctors or health care professionals and schools to the paediatric physiotherapy and occupational health team. Talk to your to doctor or your child's special educational needs coordinator if you would like to refer your child.        



Children's Assessment Team

020 8227 3811