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Social care

A woman is crouched by the wheel chair of a disabled girl. They are smiling at each other

Some disabled children and their parents will need practical support both inside the home and outside it.

Social care provides support, personal care and other practical assistance for children, young people and adults which can enable people to lead as independent a life as possible.

Children, young people and adults with complex disabilities can receive support from social workers based in local authority and teams to provide a range of social care support including:

  • practical assistance in the home
  • providing, or support in acquiring, useful technology
  • help to access recreational and educational facilities outside the home
  • travel and other assistance
  • home adaptations and facilities
  • respite care

The says:

If children and young people with SEN or disabilities are to achieve their ambitions and the best possible educational and other outcomes, including getting a job and living as independently as possible, local education, health and social care services should work together to ensure they get the right support.

Local authorities and health bodies must have arrangements in place to plan and commission education, health and social care services jointly for children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

The has useful information about Social Care Services and provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or disabilities, including:

  • childcare
  • leisure activities and short breaks
  • moving from child to adult services
  • living independently, and finding accommodation
  • help to find work

See further advice and information about social care provision:

See more information about social care:

Moving from child to adult services

The separates children from young people at the ending of compulsory school leaving age, broadly, at 16 years of age. However for the purposes of social care law, until a young person is 18 they are still classed as a child. Therefore, for the purposes of social care if the young person is under 18 your child’s needs are assessed under the .

The applies to disabled adults aged 18 or over, with some exceptions and transitional arrangements, and their carers. The Act places a clear duty on the local authority to ‘promote the wellbeing of disabled adults and their carers’.

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Your child’s right to an assessment

To determine whether your child may be entitled to social care support, you will need to ask the City of York Council to carry out an assessment of their needs. The assessment is the start of the process to decide if services are needed and for you to tell the local authority about your child and family’s needs.

If you feel your child may benefit from an assessment contact City of York Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on telephone: 01904 551900, or email:, to speak to a Social Worker for advice or to make a referral to Children’s Social Care.

Find on more about arranging an assessment on the including:

  • how to ask for an assessment
  • what to expect during the assessment
  • next steps for you, and child or young person under 18
  • template letters for you to use to request a needs assessment

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Types of social care assessments

There may be times when you or your children may need some extra support. All children and young people are unique and have differing needs. Similarly, parents differ in their capability to respond to and meet their child’s needs.

Different assessments are available which lead to getting the help you require:

  • Early Help Assessments, which are not statutory
  • Statutory Assessments, such as:
    • a ‘child in need’ assessment under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, providing support for more complex needs
    • action under section 47 of the Children Act 1989, if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm

The purposes of social care assessments are to:

  • gather important information about your child and family.
  • analyse your child’s needs.
  • decide whether your child is a child ‘in need’ (as defined in section 17 of the Children Act 1989).
  • provide support to address those needs to improve the child's outcomes

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Early Help

Early Help is a way of describing the extra support a family can receive if they need it.

Early Help is all about providing the right support to children and families at the earliest possible time; it brings together workers who can support the whole family to try and improve things for everyone. Early help can avoid the needs of the child or family escalating to the point where intervention is needed via a statutory assessment.

Families can ask for Early Help contact MASH on telephone: 01904 551900, or email:, to speak to a Social Worker for advice or to make a referral to Children’s Social Care.

You may prefer to speak to a worker you already know, such as;

  • a member of staff within school
  • a health professional
  • a housing officer
  • any worker who is actively supporting a family

The practitioner completing the assessment will often need input from others to get a full picture. With your permission, the professional who is supporting you might suggest completing a Family Early Help Assessment (FEHA), if they think you or your child needs some extra help around their behaviour or emotional wellbeing. If your child’s difficulties are solely with their behaviour in school this may not be the appropriate next step.

If you talk to your child’s school or setting first you'll have the opportunity to explore all options for support.

As part of the assessment process, you'll be asked what’s working well, what isn’t and what might need to change. Your child’s views, wishes and feelings are put at the centre of the process

Read more about SEN Support, including advice for supporting children with SEN in education settings.

Find further information about .

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Statutory Assessments for children with a disability

Statutory assessments of disabled children are governed by the statutory guidance.

It’s up to each local authority to decide how much detail is needed in each assessment, but the maximum timeframe for any assessment is 45 working days from the date a referral is received.

Under local authorities have a duty to assess ‘children in need’ for any services they may need.

A ‘child in need’ is defined within the Act as:

  • a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development
  • a child whose health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services
  • a child who is disabled

The Children Act considers a child disabled if the child is:

  • blind
  • deaf
  • non-verbal
  • suffering from a mental disorder of any kind
  • substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed

This means that if your child is disabled, the local authority must carry out an assessment of their care needs, though there is no prescribed process they must follow. There may not therefore be a formal assessment, and needs could be identified as part of the work the Early Help service provides.

It is fundamental that practitioners working with children are aware of their role in identifying and supporting all children’s individual needs including those who are ‘children in need’.

A ‘child in need’ may be a child who:

  • is disabled and has specific additional needs
  • has special educational needs, whether or not they have a statutory Education, Health and Care Plan
  • is a young carer
  • is showing signs of being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
  • is frequently missing, or goes missing from care or from home
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited
  • is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as drug and alcohol misuse, adult mental health issues and domestic abuse
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
  • has returned home to their family from care
  • is a privately fostered child
  • has a parent or carer in custody

Children in need fall into 1 or more of these groups.

According to the SEND Code of Practice 2015, for children and young people in or beyond Year 9 with an (EHC Plan), local authorities have a legal duty to include provision to assist in preparing for adulthood in the

This means that from year 9 onwards Annual Reviews of an EHC plan need to consider wider support needs, such as preparation for employment and independent living.

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

Where young people have EHC plans, local authorities should consider the need to provide a full package of provision and support across education, health and care that covers five days a week, where that is appropriate to meet the young person’s needs.

It can also include health and care related activities such as physiotherapy. Full-time packages of provision and support set out in the EHC plan should include any time young people need to access support for their health and social care needs.

If a young person over the age of 18 requires social care support, this will be provided by adult social services.

The local authority has to provide support to enable you to plan ahead as your child approaches their 18th birthday, so there are no gaps in services.

Between the ages of 16 and 18, plans will start to be made with the young person to prepare them to move to adult services. This is known as a transition.

This should involve all the services that support areas such as:

  • health and social care
  • mental health
  • education
  • financial benefits for the young person and their family
  • work
  • housing

To make sure they can provide the support needed in this time, they will do a social Care Transition Assessment with the young person and their family.

This will help to see what support a young person will need as they approach adulthood and help them to make plans for their future care arrangements.

The assessment should provide advice and information on:

  • what can be done to meet or reduce the young person's needs
  • what the young person can do to stay well and prevent the development of needs
  • budgeting and any benefits to which the young person may be entitled

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Young People with SEN or disabilities without an EHC plan

Young people with SEN or disabilities turning 18 may become eligible for adult social care services, regardless of whether they have been receiving services from children’s social care or whether they have an EHC plan.

places a duty on local authorities to carry out an assessment of a child’s needs where this would be of ‘significant benefit’ to the child, and if it is likely they will have care and support needs when they turn 18.

When a young person is close to their 18th birthday, they can ask for a Care Transition Assessment to make sure that when they reach 18 plans are in place to meet their needs. If the young person has a social worker you can ask them to request an assessment or a parent or carer can also do it.

However, the local authority can be flexible with the timing of the assessment, and they decide whether and when there is ‘significant benefit’ to assessing needs.

To ask for an assessment, contact our Adult Social Care Team on telephone: 01904 555111, or on email:

Carers UK also has information on .

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Social Care and EHC needs assessments

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Where there is an EHC needs assessment, it should be a holistic assessment of the child or young person’s education, health and social care needs. EHC needs assessments should be combined with social care assessments under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 where appropriate.

In seeking advice and information, the local authority should consider with professionals what advice they can contribute to ensure the assessment covers all the relevant education, health and care needs of the child or young person.

This means that as part of an EHC needs assessment, the Special Education Needs (SEN) team will seek advice from social care about their previous involvement and assessments for your child.

The advice must be about ‘the needs of the child or young person, and what provision may be required to meet such needs and the outcomes that are intended to be achieved by the child or young person receiving that provision’. .

If their response is ‘not known to service’ – you might want to discuss it with your Special Educational Needs Designated Officer (SENDO), Local Area Practitioner, or ask social care to carry out an assessment (or re-assessment) of care needs.

See further information about (IPSEA).

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Education Health and Care plans

Section H1 within an EHC plan includes:

Any social care provision which must be made for a child or young person under 18 resulting from section 2 of the , such as:

  • practical assistance in the home
  • clubs and activities outside the home
  • assistance in travelling or helping your child to take part in activities
  • equipment or adaptations to the home
  • holidays
  • non-residential short breaks
  • any identified provision for parent carers of disabled children

Section H2 of an EHC plan includes:

Any other provision related to your child or young person’s SEN that isn’t covered within section H1, for example:

  • residential short breaks
  • support with finding employment
  • support with finding housing

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Adult social care and EHC Plans

In the case of a young person over 18, any social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in the young person having SEN must be included in section H2 of the .

As with children’s social care provision there is no duty in the Children and Families Act 2014 for this to be provided.

The duty to arrange the provision will derive from the fact that the social care provision is set out in an adult care and support plan and is being provided under the .

Chapter 8 of the SEN Code of Practice contains further detail on adult care and EHC plans.

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Short breaks

Some children and young people with disabilities will need support for their social care needs to be met through .

Short break services give children and young people time away from their family to enjoy fun activities and new experiences, as well as make new friendships. Short breaks also give children and young people an opportunity to learn new skills and increase their independence.

Short breaks can also give parents and full-time carers of disabled children and young people a break from their caring role. This time can also enable siblings to get to spend quality time with their parents or carers either at home or by doing an activity they enjoy.

Short break provision

Short breaks can be provided in different ways. Some short breaks are offered by a registered provider, services in the council or through voluntary organisations.

Some families may prefer to organise their own support and can get in touch with the local authority to organise , where money is paid directly to them by the council, so they can organise and pay for support themselves.

Access to short breaks

If you feel your child may benefit from accessing short breaks you can contact the Local Area Team on email:, or on telephone: 01904 552420.

Alternatives to specialist short break provision

Not all families need specialist short-break provision and may find that universal or targeted services, such as after-school clubs, holiday schemes and youth clubs are able to meet their needs.

See more information on (YorOK).

You and your family may also benefit from having access to a which gets you and your family a discount or free access to a range of local and national attractions. Anyone can request a MAX Card if they have a child with a registered disability.

To enquire about receiving a MAX Card contact York Family Information Service on email:, or telephone: 01904 554444.

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