Some children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may need contact with social care teams. Here is some of the support that you can expect to receive through services and processes in Doncaster.

Social care covers a range of services that help people with day-to-day living. For many children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), social care services might include short breaks, equipment or adaptations to the home, and support from social workers. If you feel you, or your child may need support there are a number of ways you can get help.

What support is available?

Early Help

Early Help is a process of getting support when families or children and young people need some long-term help. Some families choose to have Early Help because they want to make positive changes and some families engage with Early Help because this can provide an opportunity to receive more tailored support. The support provided may include attending parenting workshops and signposting to relevant services, through to a more targeted and personalised help provided by a dedicated family support worker who can offer advice and support on a range of parenting concerns such as challenging behaviour, sleep issues or attachment and bereavement support. Find out more about how Early Help works in Doncaster.

Make a self-referral for support

Social Care

If you feel that you or child needs more support than can be achieve by linking with Early Help then you can contact Doncaster Social Care. Social care teams are legally responsible for assessing need and arranging support for children with disabilities, and their families. 

While needs of many children can be met through ‘ordinarily available’ services, such as school, health visitors and doctors. Some additional services may be provided, following an assessment of your child’s needs (under Section 17 of the Children's Act 1989). Social services use this assessment to gather information about your child and family, so they can make a decision about what help you may need. When carrying out the assessment Social Care will be considering whether:

  • The child or young person is unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have the opportunity to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without provision of services from the Local Authority;
  • The child or young person's health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of services from the Local Authority;
  • The child or young person has a disability.

The process for carrying out an assessment is contained within statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children. This guidance tells local authorities what their legal responsibilities are to families with disabled children.

Below are some of the services your child may become involved with or be offered, following their assessment. 

Short Breaks

Short Breaks provide parents/carers with a break from their caring responsibilities and provide children with disabilities or complex health needs with the opportunity to access services and activities. There are two different type of short breaks:
  • Respite - when a child accesses activities for a short period of time, this may be offered in the child's home or in the community
  • Residential - when a child has overnight care provided away from their home

Short Breaks are an element of social care services and are based on a family's needs, which are determined by a Child and Family Assessment.


Children with Disabilities Team

The Children with Disabilities (CWD) Team is a children’s social care team that provides a service to severely disabled children (learning and physical disabilities) and children substantially or permanently affected by illness, injury or congenital condition. If a child is eligible for support from the CWD team then they will most likely be known to the service through a referral from relevant professionals, however, children may also receive support from the service following an assessment. 


Inspiring Futures Team for Care Leavers

The Inspiring Futures Team is a dedicated service for young people aged 16-25 who are either in care or have been in care.

To qualify for an Inspiring Futures Team service, a young person must have spent at least 13 weeks in care after their 14th birthday. This could be in a single period or several different periods. They must have also been in care on or after their 16th birthday. If eligible, a young person can be referred as early as 15yrs and 6 months to help transition to adulthood.


How can I get support for my child?

Children usually need to have a social care assessment before they can access social care services, including short breaks. This assessment may be referred to as a 'Child in Need Assessment' or a 'Child and Family Assessment'. Every disabled child is entitled to have an assessment, to determine what support they and their family may be able to access. 

You can request an assessment by completing this online form or calling 01302 737777. If you need support to make the referral, you can contact Doncaster SENDIAS

Paying for Support: Direct Payments

There is no charge for children's social care services, when there has been an identified need for these services. These services are delivered by the local authority (LA) or the LA's partners and many parents are happy with the support they are offered. However, sometimes there can be a waiting list for services a child is identified to need such as outreach or short breaks or sometimes families may wish to use different services than those provided by the LA or their partners.

Direct payments are a way of giving more choice and control to disabled children and their families about the services they use. Parents can be given money to pay for and arrange services for their child, as an alternative to those their LA offers. 

If your child is assessed as needing a service, you cannot be refused direct payments if this is your choice. The LA has a duty to offer direct payments and the law says the LA must tell you about direct payments and support you if you wish to take these up.

You can find out more about direct payments by contacting the Short Breaks service.

Moving to Adult Social Care

At the point when young people reach 18 years old – they start to have their needs met by adult services instead of children’s. This means that a disabled child receiving support from children’s services will be ‘transitioned’ to adult care and support when they turn 18. There is law in place under the Care Act to make sure that there is no gap in services when a young person makes this transition. To help make sure this runs smoothly, the local authority must carry out a ‘child’s needs assessment’ before the 18th birthday to determine and address needs.

When should the assessment be done?

There is no specific age or time before the child’s 18th birthday at which the assessment must take place. Instead, the statutory guidance suggests that these assessments take place when it is easier to understand what the needs of the child and carer will be beyond the age of 18. Children who have Education, Health and Care plans are likely to have the assessment during the transition and preparing for adulthood process from Year 9 onwards.

What happened if the local authority refuse to assess?

Under the Children Act 1989, a local authority has a duty to assess any ‘child in need’. Children with disabilities are considered to be children in need as described in Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

What rights do disabled adults have?

If a disabled adult has been assessed as having needs for care and support from the local authority, they will receive a care and support plan, and advice about decisions on how to meet their needs.

In some instances, people may need help with managing their affairs and making decisions that need to be made about their education, health, social care, money or housing. In such situations, parents and carers are expected to act in their child’s best interest. However, if this is proving to be difficult or there are significant concerns about decision making or conflicts the Mental Capacity Act can be used to ensure that a parent or carer has the authority to make key welfare decisions on behalf of the disabled person age upwards of 16. This involves applying to the Court of Protection. The Office supports and promotes decision making for those who lack capacity: 0300 456 0300.

Adult Social Care

Support for Carers

Parent Carer’s Needs Assessments

As a parent carer of a disabled child, you are also entitled to a ‘carer’s needs assessment’.  The assessment is intended as a combined assessment of your child’s needs and yours as a carer, but you may want to mention your right to a separate parent carer’s assessment to remind them to focus on this too – as parents tell us that their needs are not always being taken into account, or not recorded properly.

Parent Carer Needs Assessment

Young Carers

Young carers who provide support to their disabled sibling, and who are under the age of 18, can access support under the Children and Families Act 2014. When a young carer approaches their 18th birthday, they can ask for an assessment of their needs to find out what support can be put in place to help them achieve their aspirations, for example to go to college or work.

Young Carers


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Last updated: 07 March 2024 10:58:50


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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