Frequently asked questions on extra help/family support
Q. My child has ADHD or aspergers syndrome, but has not been offered any support from our local Children’s Services department. They don’t accept that he is a disabled child – what can I do to get him the right help?
If your child is under 16, you may be charged for services depending on your weekly income and your outgoings – but any charge made should not cause you financial problems. You can complain if you think that the charge is too much.
Ask the social worker to explain to you in writing the reasons why they refuse to assess your child’s needs. If you disagree with the reasons they give, ask again for an assessment (in writing if possible) and explain why you think they made a mistake. Perhaps you can get help with this from someone who can confirm the difficulties you and your child are having, for example your child’s teacher or your GP or a health visitor. If you are still not happy with the decision you can make a complaint.
For more information see: advice sheet 25: Challenging decisions and making complaints.
The social worker has said, after doing an assessment that my child is not a child in need. But we really need help, what can we do?
Ask the social worker to explain to you in writing the reasons why they have decided your child is not a child in need. It is best if you make this request in writing. You should also ask for details of their eligibility criteria for getting help which sets out when Children’s Services give help to children and families.
If you disagree with the reasons they give for not offering your child help, get advice from FRG or a CAB. You could also make a complaint.
A. You can refuse services. If you think the plan is not right for your child and family you should explain this to the social worker and other professionals. If you think other services would be more helpful, explain this to the professionals at the meeting.
But it is important that you always ask the social worker exactly what will happen if you refuse the services they are offering, so you can make an informed decision. If the social worker is not worried about your child’s well-being, they may close the case. But if they are worried about your child and you are not co-operating with the plans they have made which they think you child needs, the social worker may recommend calling a child protection conference.
If I can no longer care for my child at home can I ask social workers to find a foster placement for my child?
Yes. You will need to ask for a child in need assessment. When you ask for the assessment explain how serious the problems are, and why you need your child to live elsewhere, and what might happen if your child stays living with you. When you ask for your child to live elsewhere you are asking for your child to be accommodated by Children’s Services. A social worker will need to carry out an assessment of your child’s needs to find out if fostering (either with friends/family or stranger foster carers) is the best plan of support for your child and family.
A If your child is accommodated, they will be a looked after child and care plan will be drawn up setting out details of how your child will be cared. You should be asked if you agree to this. This plan will normally spell out how long the placement will last and when your child will return home. To find out more about voluntary accommodation go to the accommodation section of this website.
I asked social workers for help with my child, and now they are saying they think my child might be at risk of harm, what will happen next?
To find out more go to the child protection section of this website.
My child does not have a disability that fits the definition of disabled, but we need help to look after him can we still get family support?
You should contact your local authority’s Children’s Services department and ask for a child in need assessment.
My child has ADHD or aspergers syndrome, but has not been offered any support from our local Children’s Services department. They don’t accept that he is a disabled child – what can I do to get him the right help?
The definition of a disabled child includes those who suffer from a mental disorder of any kind and should be understood to include children who have professionally diagnosed conditions which include ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome or autism. Make sure you tell this to the social worker.
It may also be helpful to include supporting evidence, for example a letter from a doctor. This should be from a recognised medical professional who diagnosed your child.
Your child does not have a legal right to services under the Children Act. Instead Children’s Services will use their local threshold document which includes eligibility criteria (this is a locally agreed guide which helps Children’s Services decide which children have priority need for services in your area) The eligibility criteria is different in each area so if you move you may not then get the same services for your child as you did before.
The support you will get will depend on what your child’s needs are assessed as being by your local Children’s Services and whether or not these fit within the local eligibility criteria for your area.
But if your child has a disability and has been assessed to be in need of a specific service under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act there is an enforceable right to that service.
The services you might get include: practical assistance in the home, equipment for a recreational need e.g. computer, leisure facilities, travel and other assistance, home adaptations and disabled facilities, holidays, meals, telephone equipment. Children’s Services can still decide how best to meet the need, and make sure it is cost effective, so for example in some areas some children may be provided with a holiday every 3 years.
When assessing your child’s need the social worker should make sure that, as a parent you also have your needs assessed as part of the assessment of your family.
I have had mental health problems for a long time and now need some help with my child but am scared to ask for this - should I be worried?
Many parents find it difficult to seek help when their disability is having some impact on how they meet their child’s needs so it is understandable that you feel anxious about this. However, asking for help at an early stage shows that you are a responsible parent. You have a right not to be discriminated against and may well be entitled to support to help you. In the same way, your child should be able to have the same opportunities as other children whose parents do not have a disability. Both Adult and Children’s Services should work together when it is necessary to support families where a parent has a disability. This includes a mental health difficulty.
If the social worker noted any serious concerns about your child’s safety, then they would have a duty to make child protection enquiries but again they should consult with professionals from mental health services to help them assess the risks.