Whether or not you can get help for your child with a disability will depend on the type of disability your child has. The law says that your child will be defined as disabled if your child is:
- Blind, deaf or dumb, or
- Has a mental disorder of any kind (this can include disorders such as Aspergers syndrome or ADHD) or
- Is substantially or permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or other such disability as may be prescribed.
If you need help because your child has a disability that fits this definition, you should contact your local authority’s Children’s Services department and ask for a child in need assessment.You can do this by contacting your local Children’s Services in person by phone or online (the details will be in your phone book and on the local authority website). It will be helpful if you are clear as you can be about:
- what the problems are,
- how severe the problems are,
- how support will help your child, and
- what might happen to your child if help is not offered.
Once you ask for an assessment of your child’s needs, you may be given help straight away if your child’s needs are very serious. Or you may need to wait until social workers have looked in more detail at your child’s situation. In non urgent cases they will follow a series of steps before they decide what help they will give you:
- The social worker should decide within one working day whether a child in need assessment is required
- An assessment of your child’s needs is carried out
- A plan for support services is drawn up if your child is in need.
Deciding if a child in need assessment is required:
A social worker will decide, from the information you and other people have given about your child, whether or not your child may be a child in need. Your child will be a child in need if the social worker agrees they are disabled.
If the social worker decides that your child may be a child in need, they will carry out an assessment. This means a social worker will look in more detail at your child’s situation. They will look at your child’s needs, how able you are to meet these needs and at other things that affect your child‘s well-being, for example support from your child’s extended family, your housing situation, what extra childcare you have etc.
You and your child should be fully involved in the assessment. By the end of the assessment the social worker should have a clear picture of your child’s situation and will have decided whether your child is a child in need. The social worker should let you know what will happen next, what help will be given to you and your child (if any), and if so what kind of help this will be.
Plan for support to be provided to a child in need:
If the assessment shows that your child is in need of support services then a child in need plan will be made. This plan will usually be made at a meeting, where professionals who know your family discuss with you the sort of help you and your child may need. You should be asked if you agree to what is put in this plan. The plan should set out:
- What help will be provided (for example help with childcare, home help, essential equipment)
- How long the help will be available
- What difference the help is expected to make to your child
- When the plan will be looked at again to check it is working.
It is important for you and the social worker to work together to make sure that this plan helps your child and your family. The plan will probably also involve other key people such as teachers and health visitors. In some areas your child may be referred to the children with disabilities team for more specialist support.