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Children with Disabilities Team: Access to Services Eligibility Criteria


Short Breaks Procedure


Safeguarding Disabled Children, DCSF 2009

This chapter was added to the procedures manual in June 2019.


  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.

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/young people with severe learning disabilities;
  • Children/young people with multiple or severe disability;
  • Children/young people with severe communication disability;
  • Children/young people with global development delay;
  • Children/young people with severe sensory impairment;
  • Children/young people with complex physical disability.


Children/young people with a diagnosis of Autism will receive a Statutory Assessment by the CwD team if the autism is severe and they have significant learning and communication disabilities and are subject to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Asperger’s Syndrome

Children/young people with a diagnosis of Asperger’s do not meet the criteria of the CwD Social Work Team. The Integrated Referral team will signpost any referrals to any appropriate services available.


CwD team are not able to provide services to children/young people with a diagnosis of ADHD. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services can offer information and advice.


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

Range Child DIsability Issue Social, Enviromental and Parenting Issues
High/complex Mobility Totally dependent upon others

Looked After Child

Self-care Totally dependent upon others Child subject of a Supervision Order
Communication Unable to understand or communicate Child subject of a Child Protection Plan
Behaviour Constant significant risk to self and others Substance misusing parents or carers
Cognitive Constant danger to self and others Family violence
Sleep pattern Needs attention throughout the night Parent/carer has significant health/mental health or disability problems
Medical Needs medication by a trained person Complex family issues
Moderate/additional Self-care Dependent for major aspects of care More than one disabled child in the family
Communication Communication often difficult to understand Parent has significant difficulty managing physical care
Behaviour Significant risk to self and others two or more times per week Parent has significant difficulty managing behaviour
Cognitive Structured prompting/supervision to make appropriate choices and stay safe Major housing and environmental factors
Mobility Considerable assistance required Ongoing health problems
Sleep pattern Needs attention 3+ times per night High levels of family stress
Medical Requires medication by parent or carer Relationship difficulties
Low Mobility Some assistance required Socially isolated family
Self-care Some assistance required Two or more children under five
Communication Some communication difficulties Housing and environmental factors
Behaviour Occasional challenging behaviour Financial problems
Cognitive Regular prompting required to make appropriate choices Family stress
Sleep pattern Some assistance required Single parent family
Medical Low level medical needs Acute tiredness

Children/young people with lower levels of need may receive a brief period of help or referral to other services but will 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.

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 Front Door whose details are below:

Integrated Referral Team (IRT)
Civic Centre

Tel: 0191 433 2653 (office hours: Monday - Friday, 8.30am to 5pm)
Tel: 0191 477 0844 (out of hours, at night, at weekends and bank holidays)

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.

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 identified personal budget 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 6 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.