Children's Disability Team

1. Description of Service Provision

The majority of children in Rotherham who require services will receive them through universal / targeted provision within their local community. The same should be true of any child with a disability. Details of universal provision are described on the 'Local Offer' web-site.

2. Criteria for Service

Eligibility for the Children's Disability Social Work Team and the Disability Family Support Service use the social model of disability as outlined within the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995):

A child or young person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

Accordingly the Children with Disability Social Work Team and the Disability Family Support Team will work with children and young people where the following disabilities are identified:

  1. Severe learning difficulties;
  2. Severe / profound physical disabilities;
  3. ASC including high-functioning ASC where the impact of this disability is significantly impacting on the daily life of the young person or their family;
  4. Complex Health needs (including mental health needs) for example that meet the threshold for a continuing health care assessment, such as end of life care, complex cardiology, cancer treatments etc. that have a significant impact on the child or family's quality of life and which require joint health and social care packages of support.

The team do not provide a service to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The team do not provide a service to children with emotional or behavioural difficulties; unless there has been a specific case discussion with the relevant Team Managers and acceptance of the case has been agreed based on the Children's Disability Social Work Team being best placed to meet the child's needs. Any disagreements in respect of this should be escalated to the Children's Disability Service Manager where appropriate.

Children who have a degree of disability that do not fall into the above categories and who are in need of a social care intervention will be provided for by mainstream Social Care Teams. However if relevant Team Managers are in agreement that the Children's Disability Social Work Team is best placed to meet the child's needs then the case may be accepted by the team. The final decision will be made by the Service Manager for Children with Disabilities with reference to the relevant Head of Service.

3. Assessments under the Care Act 2014

Parent carers of children under 18 years now have a stand-alone right to assessments and services under the Children and Families Act 2014. This is called a parent carers needs assessment. This assessment can be combined with one for the disabled child, and could be carried out by the same person at the same time. Wherever possible this assessment should be completed as part of a child and family assessment or an Early Help assessment rather than an additional assessment of the same family.

A parent carer is someone over 18 who provides care for a disabled child for whom they have parental responsibility. The Children and Families Act 2014 amends the Children Act 1989 requiring local councils to assess parent carers on the appearance of need or where an assessment is requested by the parent. The local council must also be satisfied that the child and their family come within the scope of the Children's Act, i.e. that the child is a Child in Need.

The Team will assess:

  • Whether a parent carer has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are;
  • Whether it is appropriate for the parent to provide, or continue to provide, care for the disabled child, in the light of the parent's needs for support;
  • Other needs and wishes;
  • Parent carers' needs assessment must also consider:
    1. The wellbeing of the parent carer;
    2. The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the disabled child cared for, and any other child for whom the parent carer has parental responsibility.

4. Children in Need

The Social Work Team will work with those families where it is identified that support services for the disabled child are required that cannot be provided at universal /early intervention/ targeted levels. This includes provision of short breaks away from home and those families who are at risk of breakdown without the provision of specialist support services.

Whilst all children with disabilities can be defined as 'Children in Need' (CA 1989 Section 17) Rotherham is committed to providing a proportionate and child-centred service which recognises that many families do not want or require a Social Work service simply because they have a disabled child and that a child and family assessment is not necessarily required to access support.

The Disability Family Support Team provides an 'Early Help' service for families of disabled children, and will create a package of support for a family based on an Early Help Assessment and multi-agency plan. The Children's Disability Social Work Team will be the preferred service where families, in addition to requiring support for their disabled child or young person, require additional support because of issues in relation to family functioning, risk of family breakdown or other complex needs.

Families will be visited no less than every four weeks; unless a child or young person has a long-standing package of overnight support in which case Social Work visits can be moved to no less frequently than every 6 weeks with the agreement of the Children's Service Manager.

Wherever possible, Child in Need Meetings will be aligned with other family meetings (such as EHCP reviews). Every 6 months the Child in Need review will be chaired by the CDT Social Work Team Manager to provide oversight of complex packages of care and support.

5. Safeguarding Processes

The CDT Social Work Team will respond to any child protection enquiries where a case is open to the CDT. Any Safeguarding referrals on cases that are not open to the CDT should be made to the MASH.

Safeguarding referrals concerning families where the disabled child as defined above is part of a sibling group will be received directly by the MASH. The MASH will make a decision based on the criteria outlined below whether the referral will be passed to Duty or to CDT.

Where there is a sibling group in which one or more child has a disability, consideration will be given to the presenting circumstance and how this impacts upon the sibling group as a whole. For example, in cases of Domestic Abuse or Neglect which affect the whole sibling group, the primary practitioner will be allocated from the Duty Team, and a secondary practitioner will be allocated from CDT to meet the needs of the child/young person with a disability. In effect this is a co-working arrangement.

There will sometimes be exceptions to this, for example it may become clear following enquiries / assessment that the concerns are specifically directed at a disabled child and there is no significant risk to the other children in the family. For example a situation where an allegation is made against someone who only has contact with the disabled child in the family (e.g. a teacher, coach or peer at school).

Where there is any doubt as to which team should have case responsibility, a discussion must take place between the CDT Social Work Team Manager and the MASH Team Manager within 24 hours of the referral being received by the MASH. If an agreement for the case to transfer is not reached within 24 hours then the team who has received the referral (DUTY or CDT) must complete the Child and Family Assessment or Section 47 Enquiry and then recommend the case transfers following completion of the work. Conflicting opinions must be escalated to the relevant Children's Service Managers. It is important that delay for the child does not occur while this takes place and a joint visits and assessments must always be considered.

6. Looked After Children

The CDT Social Work Team provide a through are service working with those children and young people with disabilities and their siblings who are subject to care proceedings, those who may require permanent placements away from their birth families and those who are looked after by agreement with their families. These cases will be co-worked with other appropriate teams where the child or young person has non-disabled siblings.

7. Step-down

Where there is no further role for CDT a Team Around the Family Meeting (also called a multi-agency meeting or MAM) will take place to step the case out of children's social care CDT to the relevant lead agency which in most instances be the Disability Family Support Team. Step-down paperwork will be completed as per Locality Cases and each case will be discussed at a monthly step-down meeting.

The Disability Family Support Service will offer a bespoke package of support dependent on the identified needs of the child, young person or family at the point of step-down which may include assessment for a Short Break, work towards transition, Group Work support for parents or direct work with a family.