What should children’s services provide as part of the council’s local offer for disabled children and children with special education needs?
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Children’s services have a duty under the Children Act 1989 (see schedule 2, paragraph 6) to make provision for disabled children in their local area. And this duty includes providing local services to:
- Minimise the effect on disabled children of their disabilities
- Give disabled children the opportunity to lead lives which are as normal as possible
- Support someone who is caring for disabled child by giving them breaks from caring.
The support they can provide should be explained in the local offer that councils have to publish. It is The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 that say the published local offer should include:
- What children’s services can provide (see schedule 2, paragraph 13 of the Regulations)
- Details of how children’s services will decide who will get support and services. This should be set out in a local threshold document (see schedule 2, paragraph 18 of the 2014 Regulations).
A local threshold document should explain the measures used in the local area to decide what help children can receive. The threshold document (or the measures in it) may be called eligibility criteria in some local areas. And it is the local threshold document that helps social workers decide if a child is likely to get any help or services. Slightly different measures or ‘thresholds’ apply in different parts of England.
See our Child in need page for more detailed information about local threshold documents.
Some children’s services departments have separate social work teams for disabled children and children with special educational needs. But for many families first contact with be with a multi-agency safeguarding hub or a duty social work team. From that first contact, children’s services can link a child and family in with the correct team, depending on the situation.