This Chapter was substantially amended in September 2010, the whole Chapter should be read.
The local authority’s statutory duties to disabled children and their families are defined by:
- The Children’s Act 2004;
- The Children Act 1989;
- The Chronically Sick and Disabled Act 1970;
- The Special Needs and Disability Act 2001;
- The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995,
- The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000;
- The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004;
- The Human Rights Act 1988;
- The Disability Act 1995 (amended 2005)
Disabled Children are automatically deemed children in need for the purposes of the Children Act.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with guidance regarding Assessing the Needs of Disabled Children and their Families - Guidance.
1. Disabled Children’s Social Work Team
The Disabled Children’s Team is a specialist service working with disabled children and young people in the Borough and their parents. This includes:
- Linking to local schools for children and young people with physical and learning disabilities and sensory impairment;
- Undertaking Child in Need assessments in line with the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DOH, DfEE, HO 2000);
- Identifying resources;
- Ensuring children’s safety;
- Working with young people who are accommodated;
- Offering support to children, young people and their families, and to carers;
- Working alongside voluntary organisations and other agencies
- Ensuring there is a seamless transfer to the adult services
Services are offered for children and young people aged 5 to 18. A specialist Senior Social Worker at the Early Years Centre works in a multi-disciplinary setting with children under 5. The Team is based at Welbeck House.
1.1 Criteria for Services
- Children with complex health and developmental needs
- Children with a diagnosis of ASD with an associated severe learning disability
- Children with sensory disabilities
- Children with a severe physical disability
- Children who have a life limiting condition
If there are issues of parenting capacity and only one child in the sibling group meets the criteria for the Disabled Children’s Team, the Manager of the Disabled Children’s Team and the Manager of CIN will discuss which social work team should provide the social work service.
1.2 General Policy
The following principles guide the Department’s work with disabled children:-
- The welfare of the child should be safeguarded and promoted by those providing services;
- Disabled children are children first;
- The Department will seek to work in partnership with families and other agencies that are involved in services, both statutory and voluntary;
- The views of children and carers will be sought and taken into account;
- The child’s religion, race and cultural and linguistic background will be taken into account in assessing the needs of the child and family.
1.3 Referring the Disabled Child
The Children’s Specialist Services is typically not the first agency to have contact with a child and family. The most frequent sources of referral are:
- The child him/herself
- The child’s family
- Child health services
- Multi-disciplinary teams: child development teams, child development centres
- Voluntary organisations
The initial point of contact with the Team is usually through the Duty Worker who is available during office hours on 020 8871 7192. Initial referrals may also come via the Referral and Assessment Team.
1.4 Child Protection Enquiries – Working with the CiN Duty Workers
The Disabled Children’s Team deals with school-aged children with a substantial and permanent physical or learning disability, including those with a sensory impairment. This does not include young people with moderate learning disabilities or ADHD/ADD.
Case Responsibility for making enquiries following a child protection referral is as follows:
- Where a child is allocated to a Disabled Children’s Team worker, that person will undertake the enquiry and act as Keyworker. He/she will however not necessarily involve siblings in the enquiry: If there are non-disabled siblings there will need to be discussion with the Referral and Assessment Team to decide on allocation.
- Where a case is allocated but the social worker is unavailable, the Disabled Children’s Team Duty worker will carry out the enquiry.
- Where a case is not allocated in the Disabled Children’s Team, the Duty Team will be responsible.
- If a referral comes to the Referral and Assessment Team concerning a child’s disability, it will be passed on to Disabled Children’s Team Duty, providing it falls within their criteria.
1.5 The Assessment Process
The provision of services to children in need follows an assessment of need. This will take the form of a Child and Family Assessment.
The assessment may incorporate assessments required under other legislation, e.g. the Disabled Persons Act 1986; the Chronically Sick and Disabled Act 1970 and the Carers (Recognition) legislation. These should be co-ordinated multi-agency assessments carried out in partnership child, parents and carers.
1.6 Listening to Children
Legislation and guidance following the Children Act 1989 have stressed the need to communicate directly with children to ascertain their needs. This requires expertise and may in addition require the services of a signer, an interpreter, tape facilities, books/leaflets in large print/Braille. Disabled children have the same rights of access to information held about them by the Children’s Services Department as any other child in need.
1.7 Planning a Service
The Department is required under Schedule 2 (para 6) of the Children Act to provide services:
- To minimise the effect of a child’s disability; and
- To give children the opportunity to lead lives that are as normal as can be.
When the assessment process is completed the social worker negotiates with family and agencies to agree a plan of action that will achieve a short break / respite for child and family. This may range from counselling and support, to domiciliary child care, referral to outside agencies or residential short break care (see below).
The Plan needs to address:
- The particular needs of the child in relation to the five outcomes: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well being as well as disability, education, religion, racial origin, gender and cultural and linguistic background;
- Which agencies are best suited to meet the child’s needs;
- The needs of siblings, which should also be assessed as they may benefit from the package of services. They may require an Assessment in their own right.
1.8 Support Services
Following a Child and Family Assessment and presentation to the Special Needs Panel the following services may be purchased:
- Domiciliary support at home: this could be provided by Direct Payments, a worker employed by Wandsworth (casual worker) or an agency worker. Direct Payments would always be discussed with parents.
- 1:1 Support to facilitate a child attending services when a child would not be able to attend without this support.
- Residential short break care is also available following a Child and Family Assessment. This may be provided at Oakdene residential unit or through Wandsworth Short Breaks (fostering service). If the child has specialist needs, this may take place in a private and voluntary (P & V) organisation.
The Child and Family Assessment would be discussed at the Special Need Panel, chaired by the Disabled Children’s Team Manager. Requests for P & V residential short break would require approval by the Head of Service.
1.9 Residential Short Break Care
Short Break care is used as part of an integrated programme of family support based on a Child and Family Assessment.
As with any child being accommodated, the LACS procedures and the reviewing procedures apply. A disabled child does not, however, need to have a medical. The procedural requirements are detailed in Section 3, Looked After Children of the Contents.
There is a difference, however, where a series of short breaks placements is set up for a disabled child. These may be treated as a single placement, provided that:
- All the periods are included within a period of not more than one year;
- No single period should exceed four weeks;
- The total number of days in placement shall not exceed 75 in any year.
The choice of placement involves the same principles of matching but emphasises:
- The importance for disabled children that the care should be provided by the same carer or establishment for each period of care;
- That the child should be able to attend his normal school and maintain local contacts;
- The plan agreed with child and parents should allow them to exercise choice and be able to use the service flexibly but should be child focused;
- The period of care to be treated as one part of an integrated package of care.
In general, extra safeguards are taken by the Disabled Children’s Team when a disabled child is accommodated, as he/she is likely to be very vulnerable when placed away from home.
1.10 Transitions to Adulthood
The emergence into adulthood is not easy for any young person, young disabled adults may be particularly vulnerable because of the impact their disability may have had on their personal and social development; and the physical limitations that may arise from the disability itself.
As the young person moves from Children Services to the Adult Services, the Department seeks to minimise the disruption. The transition procedure must be referred to.
Disabled children and their families may be eligible for a range of benefits. The Council’s Benefits and Income Unit is under review and not currently operational. However, advice can be sought from a number of sources:
|Disability Advice Service
217 Balham High Road
|Tel: 020 8333 6960
|Family Information Service
|Tel: 020 8871 7899
||Tel: 0845 4647
1.12 Other Agencies and Voluntary Organisations
Other Services families may receive support from:
Contact A Family
1 Siward Road SW17 0LA
|Tel: 0208 947 5260
|Share a Family
1 Siward Road SW17 0LA
|Tel: 020 8947 5317
2. Early Years Centre
Based at: 1 Siward Road, SW17 OLA.
The Early Years Centre is a joint funded multi-disciplinary service, for children with complex developmental difficulties or a specific disability, under eight years of age.
Referrals may be made directly to the Manager, Early Years Centre and can be made by parents themselves and by any Children’s Services or Health professional.
2.1 Multi Disciplinary Assessment and Support Service (MASS)
The Centre provides a comprehensive assessment of the child’s needs in one of two ways:
- Outreach Multi-disciplinary assessment taking place at the EYC or in the child’s nursery or school over a period of up to 6 weeks, used for children over 2 years who would benefit from a period of assessment and observation.
- Uni-disciplinary assessment and provision of one service identified as appropriate to meet the child and families needs.
The services available at the Centre to provide assessment, therapy and support consist of:
- Assessment workers
- SEN teachers
- Educational psychologist
- Social worker/case manager
- Paediatric occupational therapist
- Specialist speech and language therapist
- Clinical psychologist
- Consultant developmental paediatrician
2.2 Play and Development Service
- This offers a range of facilities including a multi sensory room, soft play room and toy library.
- Parent/child activity groups have been developed to focus on specific skills and to offer support and training to parents.
- The toy library offers toys and educational equipment on loan to all parents and carers of children with disabilities (0-8 years).
- Home visiting can also be offered to families who may find it difficult to get to the centres due to the nature of their child’s disability or complex health needs.
2.3 Early Support Programme
Currently a pilot in the Tooting locality the Early Support Programme aims to achieve better coordinated, family focussed services for disabled children under 5 years, and their families, through the allocation of a non designated key worker.
2.4 Early Bird Programme
Workshops for parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
3. Waverton Children's Centre
This is located at:-
Waverton Children’s Centre
1 Waverton Road
The Children’s Centre is a specialist resource for disabled children aged 2-5 years.
Children referred must have been identified as having a developmental need or disability.
Following a Child and Family Assessment or a CAF referrals are sent to Manager, Waverton Children’s Centre.
4. Overnight Short Breaks Care for Disabled Children
Oakdene Respite Unit
117 Church Lane
Tel No: 020 8692 0037
The home offers residential short breaks to children and young people with moderate and severe learning disabilities aged 5-18.
Aims of the service:
- To provide a safe, friendly and stimulating environment where children can develop to their full potential, taking into account age, disability, race, religion and gender.
- To work in partnership with parents and carers, taking into account their views.
- To develop confidence in parents and carers in our ability to look after their children.
- To increase children’s independence through social integration with other children and involvement with activities in the community, to provide for their physical, emotional and social well-being.
Children referred have to be between 5-18 years of age with a moderate or severe learning disability. Some of these children will have physical disabilities or challenging behaviour. Some of the children will have medical needs including gastro feeding. Staff will require training for each child with this need.
It is not possible to take referrals for children and young people who require oxygen, or who are extremely frail, other services will be identified for these children.
The service offered is normally in short breaks of 3 or 4 days at a time alternating between a weekend or mid week break every three weeks.
Children attend in groups with other children known to them and the staff ratio is 1:3.
Children with very challenging behaviour attend in groups with a staff ratio of 1:2.
Children are transported to Oakdene on the school transport.
Some children may require 1:1 support to attend.
All children attending residential short breaks care must be subject of the Statutory Guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks, with six monthly reviews and statutory visits from social workers.
4.2 Wandsworth Short Breaks
117 Church Lane
Tel 0208 767 9995
Wandsworth Short Breaks is a family based service for children with disabilities aimed at providing a break for families and good quality care and experience for the children.
Main aims of the service are:
- To provide and deliver a service that is flexible and sensitive to the needs of individual children and families in terms of their wishes, race, religion, language and culture.
- To provide a variety of opportunities and support to enhance the lives of children with a disability and enable them and their family to lead as normal a life as possible.
The service provides regular short breaks for disabled children or those with long term illness. Children are placed with carers approved and trained under the Fostering Agency regulations. Care provided is overnight in the carers home for approximately thirty nights per year.
Social workers may refer to the service following a Child and Family Assessment identifying needs for respite care.
30 days will usually be the maximum annual allowance for respite care, unless additional support is agreed by the relevant Social Work Manager.
Before placement a care agreement will be developed involving all relevant parties, particularly referrer, carer and child’s family.
The placement will be reviewed in line with the legislation for children receiving residential respite care.
Based at: 117 Church Lane, SW17 9PW.
Chestnut is a 4 bed long stay home which is located next to Oakdene.
This is a specialist resource for disabled children, allowing them to remain in their home community and local school. They are able to be close to their family and have contact as appropriate.
Children placed at Chestnut require the same planning and reviewing as all children not able to live with their family. The procedures for children looked after must be referred to and applied for children and young people placed in Chestnut Long Stay Unit. (See Section 3, Looked After Children of the Contents).