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Children with Disabilities Team: Access to Services Eligibility Criteria


Short Breaks Procedure


Safeguarding Disabled Children, DCSF 2009


In June 2021, additional information was added in regard to Eligibility Criteria and Referral Process – EYAIT in relation to Autism.


  1. Introduction
  2. Referrals
  3. Assessments
  4. Levels of Need
  5. Short Breaks
  6. How to Make a Referral

1. Introduction

The Children with Disabilities (CwD) Social Work Team provide services designed to meet the needs of children and young people who have complex disabilities aged 0-18 years.

The system to enable us to decide which children/young people and families should receive our services is based on a careful assessment of need that helps social work staff to reach decisions about what services are to be provided. It is important that decisions about who will get services are made in a fair and open way.

The CwD Social Work Team is one of a range of provisions that can provide support to children/young people with disabilities and their families. Other services available are those provided by Health and Education as well as community resources.

The CwD Social Work Team provide a service to those children/young people requiring additional resources in respect of their disability, where the disability has a profound impact on the child/young person’s life.

2. Referrals

Appropriate referrals include children aged 0 - 18:

  • With severe learning disabilities;
  • With multiple or severe disability;
  • With severe communication disability;
  • With social communication difficulties;
  • With global development delay;
  • With severe sensory impairment;
  • With complex physical disability.

Children/young people listed above are eligible to have an initial assessment which could mean that a Child in Need Assessment is undertaken.

Early Help provide the following for families with children who have special / additional needs.

Family Intervention

  • Common Assessment Framework (CAF) whole-family assessment and multi-agency support plan;
  • Direct work with children and young people on developing adaptive behaviours;
  • Specialist interventions using art therapy and reducing violent behaviour (RYPP);
  • Provide advice and strategies to parents/carers in implementing structure and routines;
  • Support/contribute to the EHCP process.

Group Programmes

  • Provide 123 Magic programme – recognised as beneficial for autistic children aged 2-12 years;
  • Provide Families First programme – works with parents with children on ADHD/Autism assessment pathway;
  • N.B. Early Help co-deliver the CYPS ‘Welcome’ meeting for parents with children on the above pathway;
  • Provide the ADHD Parenting Factor programme – many parents of children with a dual diagnosis attend this.

Play Development

  • Provide bespoke/small group support (FACETS) for children with autism.


  • Main Early Help web pages include links to Local Offer and Autism Hub.

Autism hub info:

  • The Autism Information Hub is free to access and offers resources about autism and a monthly face to face information and signposting service to people with autism, their families/carers and practitioners. You do not need a diagnosis to access the Hub.

For more information about the Autism Information Hub, contact the:
Elgin Children's Centre,
Elgin Road,
Phone: 0191 433 6300 or


Families who are eligible but choose not to access services from the team but require information and advice about transition (this means planning for a young person to move into adulthood) will be offered advice and support.

For further information, see Section 6, How to Make a Referral.

3. Assessments

Appropriate referrals for a specialist service for children/young people with disabilities will be responded to by a member of the CwD Social Work Team completing a Statutory Assessment, in partnership with the family. The assessment process aims to make clear the nature of the disability, how it impacts on the child/young person’s life as well as identifying strengths and needs of the family. It also aims to find out what may need to change, recognising that all families and children/young people are different.

The assessment may be used (with your consent) as part of a further multi-agency assessment, which will help agencies to work together to provide services to disabled children/young people and their families.

4. Levels of Need

Assessments will inform a decision about level of need.

The levels we use are:

  • High;
  • Moderate;
  • Low.

Each level of need carries with it a different level of service.

  • High level of need applies to a child/young person who has complex high care needs, requiring the input of specialist services for support;
  • Moderate level of need applies to a child/young person who would not achieve a reasonable standard of health and welfare due to a significant disability, without specialist services;
  • A low level of need applies to a child/young person with disabilities where need can be met by universal services, for example Children’s Centres and other mainstream services.

Levels of need chart

Caption: Levels of need
Range Child Disability Issue
High/complex Mobility Totally dependent upon others
Self-care Totally dependent upon others
Communication Unable to understand or communicate
Behaviour Constant significant risk to self and others
Cognitive Constant danger to self and others
Sleep pattern Needs attention throughout the night
Medical Needs medication by a trained person
Moderate/additional Self-care Dependent for major aspects of care
Communication Communication often difficult to understand
Behaviour Significant risk to self and others two or more times per week
Cognitive Structured prompting/supervision to make appropriate choices and stay safe
Mobility Considerable assistance required
Sleep pattern Needs attention 3+ times per night
Medical Requires medication by parent or carer
Low Mobility Some assistance required
Self-care Some assistance required
Communication Some communication difficulties
Behaviour Occasional challenging behaviour
Cognitive Regular prompting required to make appropriate choices
Sleep pattern Some assistance required
Medical Low level medical needs

In addition to child disability issues, social, environmental and parenting issue will be considered in any assessment. This could include child subject to child protection plan, complex family issues, having more than one disabled child or housing or environmental factors (this list is not exhaustive).

Children/young people with lower levels of need may receive a brief period of help or referral to other services but may not receive an ongoing social work service.

Children/young people in the high and many in the moderate need will require a more in-depth assessment. This may be done through a Statutory Assessment. The assessment will inform the child’s plan and any package of care.

The child’s plan will outline the level of service to be provided, and how the services will be expected to meet the need of the child/young person.

All plans are reviewed regularly, and levels and type of services can be changed (increased or decreased) to respond to the changing needs of child/young person.

CWD Review Cases (Early Help)

Identification of case:

  • Review cases are cases that have a low package of support which is stable and meets the child’s needs, following a CIN assessment. As such, they are classified as Early Help cases, although they will be managed by the CWD Review Officer, who is part of the CWD Team;
  • A Review case is identified as being a case that does not need active social work intervention at the time it is allocated to the CWDT Reviewing Officer;
  • A case will be classified as a CWD Review Case when services such as direct payments or play service provision are being received by the child and their family but the family have indicated that they do not want a statutory social work service.

Agreement and Notification:

  • The Social Worker will seek the family’s wishes as to whether they want social work involvement and about the level of services they and their child require. Their views will be noted;
  • Following agreement between the social worker and the child’s family that statutory social work is not required, a Child in Need Review will take place and professionals will be advised that the case will be managed as a Review case. This will be reflected in the minutes. The CWDT Reviewing Officer will attend the CIN Review;
  • All Review Cases will be reviewed once every year, unless there is a change of circumstances leading to the family requiring or requesting social work intervention. The CWD Review Officer will maintain contact with the child and their family.

5. Short Breaks

Children may be provided with short breaks with approved foster carers, or appropriate residential facility, without becoming looked after by the Local Authority.

For further information see Short Breaks Procedure.

6. How to make a referral

Referral can be made through the Children’s Social Care whose details are below:

Integrated Referral Team (IRT)
Civic Centre

Tel: 0191 433 2653 (office hours: Monday - Friday, 8.30am to 5pm)
Emergency safeguarding referrals can be made out of hours to the EDT: 0191 477 0844 (out of hours, at night, at weekends and bank holidays) (NOTE: this is not for non-urgent referrals).

Refer a concern using Safeguarding in Gateshead Child Protection / Child in Need / Child Care Concern Referral form.

See also: Report Concerns About a Child.

If, following an Assessment of Needs, a decision is made that the child or young person is not eligible for services, the allocated Social Worker will clearly explain to the family the reasons for this decision. The Social Worker will signpost to other services if appropriate (see Local Offer).

Please note, the eligibility criteria must be met in order to receive paid services. The eligibility criteria will be applied, and it is only once this is met that the services can be accessed.

Involvement from the Children with Disabilities Team will be regularly reviewed to ensure that this is still appropriate. For example, some children or young adults may need temporary support with illnesses that may not be needed on an on-going basis.

Any services provided following an assessment of need will be reviewed every 12 months to ensure that they are still appropriate. The review may result in no changes, a change to the agreed service, an increase or decrease in the amount of service or the withdrawal of the service if the need is no longer apparent or eligibility criteria are no longer met.

If the child or young person has Special Educational Needs but they are not deemed eligible to receive social care support, there is still a lot of support available in Gateshead. More information is available at Gateshead's Local Offer.