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4.2 Children with Disabilities Team: Access to Services Eligibility Criteria


  1. Introduction
  2. Referrals
  3. Assessments
  4. Levels of Need
  5. Short Breaks

1. Introduction

The Children with Disabilities (CwD) Social Work Team provide services designed to meet the needs of children and young people who have complex disabilities.

We have a system to enable us to decide which children/young people and families should receive our services. It is based on a careful assessment of need that helps social work staff to reach decisions about what services are to be provided. It is important that decisions about who will get services are made in a fair and open way.

The CwD Social Work Team is one of a range of provisions that can provide support to children/young people with disabilities and their families. Other services available are those provided by Health, Education, Play and Youth Services as well as community resources provided by Sure Start and voluntary agencies.

The CwD Social Work Team provide a service to those children/young people requiring additional resources in respect of their disability, where the disability has a profound impact on the child/young person’s life.

2. Referrals

Appropriate referrals include:

  • Children/young people with severe learning disabilities;
  • Children/young people with multiple or severe disability;
  • Children/young people with severe communication disability;
  • Children/young people with global development delay;
  • Children/young people with severe sensory impairment;
  • Children/young people with complex physical disability.


Children/young people with a diagnosis of core Autism will receive an Statutory Assessment and may receive further services if the child/young person is assessed as having significant learning disabilities or communication disabilities.


Children/young people with a diagnosis of Asperger’s do not meet the criteria of the CwD Social Work Team. The team will signpost any referrals to any appropriate services available.


CwD team are not able to provide services to children/young people with a diagnosis of ADHD. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services can offer information and advice.


Families who are eligible but choose not to access services from the team but require information and advice about transition (this means planning for a young person to move into adulthood) will be offered advice and support.

3. Assessments

Appropriate referrals for a specialist service for children/young people with disabilities will be responded to by a member of the CwD Social Work Team completing an Statutory Assessment, in partnership with the family. The assessment process aims to make clear the nature of the disability, how it impacts on the child/young person’s life as well as identifying strengths and needs of the family. It also aims to find out what may need to change, recognize, that all families and children/young people are different.

The assessment may be used (with your consent) as part of a further multi-agency assessment, which will help agencies to work together to provide services to disabled children/young people and their families.

4. Levels of Need

Assessments will inform a decision about level of need.

The levels we use are:

  • High;
  • Moderate;
  • Low.

Each level of need carries with it a different level of service.

  • High level of need applies to a child/young person who has complex high care needs, requiring the input of specialist services for support;
  • Moderate level of need applies to a child/young person who would not achieve a reasonable standard of health and welfare due to a significant disability, without specialist services;
  • A low level of need applies to a child/young person with disabilities where need can be met by universal services, i.e. Sure Start and other mainstream services.

Click here to access Levels of Need Chart.

Children/young people with lower levels of need may receive a brief period of help or referral to other services, but will not receive an ongoing social work service.

Children/young people in the high and many in the moderate need will require a more in depth assessment. This may be done through a Statutory Assessment. The assessment will inform the child’s plan.

The child plan will outline the level of service to be provided, and how the services will be expected to meet the need of the child/young person.

All plans are reviewed regularly and levels and type of services can be changed (increased or decreased) to respond to the changing needs of child/young person.

5. Short Breaks

Children may be provided with short breaks with approved foster carers, or appropriate residential facility, without becoming looked after by the Local Authority.

For further information see Short Breaks Procedure.