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South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

3.2.1 Children with Disabilities Eligibility Criteria


Short Breaks Procedure

Section 17 Payments Potentially Eligible for Crisis Support


This chapter was updated in May 2017 when Section 4, Child Protection Cases / Children in Need was changed to include Children in Need as well as Child Protection Cases.


  1. Criteria
  2. Referral Process
  3. Assessment Process
  4. Child Protection Cases / Children in Need
  5. Services to Children with Disability
  6. Services to Carers
  7. Disability Register
  8. Reviews

    Appendix 1: Access Criteria for Children With Disability Social Care Service - to follow

    Appendix 2: Torbay Directory of Children with Disabilities (DeCiDe)

1. Criteria


The criteria for the Children with Disabilities Social Care Team establishes the threshold at which a referral in relation to a child with a disability will be accepted on the basis that the child requires a specialist social care assessment.

The Children with Disabilities Social Care Team will offer an assessment where the child has a condition diagnosed by a Doctor or Consultant which is substantial, long lasting or permanent, physical and or learning disability or a life limiting, life threatening condition.

These may include:

  • Severe learning disabilities;
  • Severe physical disabilities;
  • Severe developmental delay in motor and or cognitive functioning;
  • Profound multiple disabilities;
  • Severe sensory impairment (registered blind and profoundly deaf);
  • Complex and severe health problems that arise from the disability, that are life threatening, degenerative illness or organic disorder resulting in severe disability;
  • A diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Condition with an associated learning disability and where the condition severely affects day to day functioning.

(For further details see Appendix 1: Access Criteria for Children With Disability Social Care Service - to follow)

Assessment of Children

The Children Act 1989 places a duty on Children’s Services to provide or co-ordinate the provision of services to all disabled children. The overall provision of these services is a responsibility across all areas of Children’s Services, and associated health and voluntary sector services. The Children with Disabilities Social Care Team has been established to provide a more specialist service to a defined group of children and young  people up to the age of 18 living in Torbay.

The eligibility criteria exists to determine a threshold, which needs to be achieved in order for a child or young person to be considered for an assessment from the Children with Disabilities Social Care Team. The actual provision of any services including prioritisation, level and type of resource provision will be determined by the Framework for Assessment of Children in need and their families, and the ability of the multi agency network to meet identified need within finite resources.

The Children Act 1989 defines disabled children as “children in need” if:  “A child is disabled if he is blind, deaf, or without speech or suffers from a mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently disabled by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed”.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 defines a person as having a disability if he or she has a “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effects on his or her ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.

The Special Education Needs and Disability Act 2001 defines a disabled pupil as “ a school pupil who meets the definition of disabled person under the 1995 Act”.

Where the assessment identifies that specialist services are required, every local authority has a duty to provide services designed to:

  • Maximise life opportunities and participation of disabled children;
  • Give Disabled children the opportunity to lead lives which ensure that they reach their potential.

Assessments are completed with children, families, carers and other professionals to identify individual needs, overcome problems and reduce risks. If required the identification of intervention, service provision and support needs will then form the basis of a child in need care plan.

These tasks are integral to an effective social care response, but do not all have to be carried out by Social Workers. Some tasks can be appropriately shared with or delegated to other social care staff under social work supervision.

The criteria for referral and assessment from the Children with Disabilities Social Care Team would not include a child or young person with the following diagnoses, (unless they have other conditions that meet the criteria as detailed above):

  1. Dyslexia;
  2. Dyspraxia;
  3. Most Autistic Spectrum Conditions including Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD, Emotional and Behavioural difficulties, Oppositional Defiance Disorder;
  4. Mild physical disabilities;
  5. Mild Learning disabilities;
  6. Mild Global Developmental Delay;
  7. Speech and Language difficulties;
  8. Sensory disabilities only;
  9. Controlled Epilepsy;
  10. Mental Health Conditions.
Where services are not required advice or referral to other services or signposting may be offered.


Where mainstream social workers hold cases of children who might be considered to be disabled, appropriate advice and support can be made available from the Children with Disabilities Team (CWD).

2. Referral Process

2.1 All new referrals will be processed through the Safeguarding Hub as a single referral point.
2.2 Where a referral is received a threshold decision will be made on the basis of both social care indicators and/or CWD eligibility criteria. Where the decision of the MASH manager is that level 4 threshold is met and the primary need indicated is social care, a referral will be progressed to the Single Assessment Team (SAT) Following case allocation into SAT, where CWD eligibility is also met, a joint visit with a CWD social worker will be undertaken as part of the assessment. Where the decision of the MASH manager is that the primary issue relates to disability and the CWD eligibility threshold is met, a referral will be progressed onto the CWD Team Manager.

Where there is a dispute, it is the responsibility of the relevant Team Managers to discuss and agree a resolution to any issues of dispute arising in regard to the threshold. Heads of Service reserve the right to make the final decision appropriate to the child and family’s needs.

MASH may also consider that the child/ren meet Level 2/3 criteria, in which case the normal screening process will occur.

3. Assessment Process

3.1 All children who meet the criteria for the Children with Disabilities Social Care Team will receive an assessment of their need for services.
3.2 The Assessment will be carried out in consultation with the family, using information from other involved professionals as appropriate.
3.3 It is the impact the disability has on daily living for the child and their immediate family that is a key part of the assessment. The assessment will be child focused.
3.4 Additional specialist assessments will be commissioned as necessary from a variety of other services as a result of the assessment undertaken.
3.5 The assessment may identify that needs arise due to a child's disability or as a result of a parent's health or disability or a child may be in need of protection from abuse or neglect - see Section 4, Child Protection Cases / Children in Need.
3.6 Parents of a child with a disability and the child (depending upon their age and level of understanding) will be given information about the Disability Register - see Section 7, Disability Register.

4. Child Protection Cases / Children in Need


With new referrals (i.e. where the case is not open to the CWD Team) where the primary concern is child protection, MASH will follow the standard screening process to decide threshold of need and which team to refer onto for Child Protection enquiries and/or single assessment. In the event that criteria is met for CWD team as detailed at Paragraph 2.2, the case will be transferred at ICPC, with CWD Team Manager being notified and invited to the Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) meeting/or CIN meeting.

Where child protection concerns are raised on open child care cases within the CWD team, the investigation and section 47 will be progressed by the allocated social worker.

If at ICPC there are siblings all living within the same household and the subject child meets the CWD eligibility criteria then all siblings, subject to the child protection plans will be allocated into the CWD team. The same process will be followed in the case of Children in Need, where the subject child is identified as meeting the CWD criteria.

The CWD Team will usually undertake all Section 47 Enquiries, assessments, manage child protection plans and legal proceedings in respect of children who are already open cases.

5. Services to Children with Disability

As a general principle, where it is appropriate and meets the needs of children and families mainstream services should be identified and made accessible, these should be provided as a way of minimising the impact of disability and avoiding any unnecessary segregation.

Where the assessment identifies that specialist services are required, these may be provided by health or voluntary agencies as well as the local authority. The assessment will identify and make recommendations for appropriate services or equipment that are required to meet the child's needs.

The support services that may be included in a support package for a disabled child and his/her family range from:

  • The provision of information on activities, clubs, playgroups and play schemes;
  • The provision of advice and information about other organisations which may be able to offer help and support;
  • Support for the child in/outside the home;
  • Short breaks providing overnight care - see Short Breaks Procedure;
  • Support services using direct payments - see the Direct Payments Scheme Procedure.

When services have been agreed, they will be incorporated into a Child in Need Plan - or, where the child becomes Looked After, a Care Plan or Short Break Plan.

6. Services to Carers

Services can also be provided to carers where the child is disabled. Under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 carers are entitled to an assessment of their own needs. Any such assessment of carers should follow the guidance in the Assessment Framework.

7. Disability Register

The Disability Register holds information about children with disability and is a legal requirement for all local authorities and is held within the CWD Team.

Parents are asked whether they wish to supply information about their child for inclusion on the register.

The register is used to plan and develop services for children with disability and also to assist Adult Services with information on future service needs.

8. Reviews

All CP and CIN Plans will be reviewed in line with the CWD Practice Standards.

For reviews of children in receipt of short breaks, see Short Breaks Procedure.


Appendix 1: Access Criteria for Children With Disability Social Care Service - to follow

Appendix 2: Torbay Directory of Children with Disabilities (DeCiDe)