Getting help when a parent’s disability means they need help to care for their child

If you are a parent with a disability, you may be able to get help to look after your child from adult services or children’s services or both.

Adult Services:

If you have a disability you may be entitled to services and support from the local authority adult services as part of community care. You can ask for a community care assessment of your needs to be carried out. This will include looking at your needs as a parent. It is useful when asking for an assessment to think about what type of services would help you care better for your child. It is also a good idea to provide supporting information from professionals who know you and your child.

Children’s Services:

The child of a disabled parent is not automatically seen as a child in need by Children’s Services. However, your child may be able to get support from Children’s Services if the support you get from Adult Services is not enough to help you meet your child’s need, and is necessary to keep your child safe and well cared for. Adult Services should work alongside Children’s Services to help you and your child.

If you feel you need extra help to care for your child, you can contact your local Children’s Services in person, by phone or online to ask for a child in need assessment. The contact 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.

It is also useful to give the social worker details of other people who are involved with your child, including other people in your family and professionals who know your child, for example a health visitor or teacher. These people may be able to give useful information about what might help your child.

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 decides if 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 needed

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 they are disabled, or have other serious difficulties that make things so hard that your child will not be healthy or develop normally without extra help. These difficulties could include family problems, These difficulties could include family problems, such as your child being out of control, perhaps being violent, your child self harming, or your child having experienced domestic violence, or very poor living conditions (these are just examples). 


If the social worker decides that your child may be a child in need, they will carry out an style="font-weight: bold;"> 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 (taking account of any help you may receive from Adult Services) and at other things that affect your child‘s well-being, for example 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. Your child’s needs should be assessed following: Working Together 2015
  • your local threshold documents
  • your local protocol for assessment

It is a good idea to ask your child’s social worker for a copy of the threshold documents and the assessment protocol which is followed in your area as soon as you ask for help so that you know what to expect. 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.

A timescale should be agreed with you that meets your child’s needs but the assessment should not usually take longer than 45 days.

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.

If you are disabled and your child a young carer because they provide you with a lot of care then Adult and Children’s services must work together to complete a “whole family” assessment. Your child can have an assessment of their ability to care and this should be taken into consideration when deciding what community care services will be offered to you. Your child can also be offered support from Young Carers services. 


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