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CoventryChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Children's Disability Team


  1. Criteria
  2. New Referrals
  3. Assessments
  4. Child Protection Cases
  5. Services to Children with Disability
  6. Person Centred Planning
  7. Early Support and the Designated Key Worker Programme
  8. Services to Carers
  9. Disability Register
  10. Sensory Impairment and the Sensory Impairment Register
  11. Reviews
  12. Transition
  13. Short Breaks

1. Criteria

Criteria for access to social care services through the Children's Disability Team (CDT) is not solely dependent on the diagnosis of a disability, but rather on the impact of that disability on the child and his or her family.

Cases will only come within the remit of CDT if all of the circumstances given below are met:

  • The primary reason for the involvement of social care services is a disability*;
  • The impact of the disability on the child or family is severe; and
  • The disability is such that it requires a service that is specialist.

*The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 defines a person as having a disability if he or she has "a physical or mental impairment which has 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".

The Children Act 1989 also includes a definition of disabled in Section 17 which states that a child is disabled if "he (or she) is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital or other such disability may be prescribed".

NB If the child with a disability belongs to a sibling group with whom another Children's Social Care Team is involved for other reasons, then, in most cases, the responsibility for the child will remain in the neighbourhood team/with the allocated worker, with specialist advice and support being provided by CDT.

If a child is open to CDT and concerns arise with other siblings who are not open to Children's Social Care, the CDT will refer these children into the Referral and Assessment Service (RAS) who will do a joint visit / assessment and following this, discussions will be held about where the case should sit.

In the event of complex cases, then the Service Managers would need to decide the most appropriate allocation based on the individual circumstances.

2. New Referrals


Please also see the CDT Referral Process Flowchart

2.1 All contacts and referrals in relation to children with disability will be signposted to the Children's Disability Team (CDT). Where it appears that the criteria for the CDT are met, CDT will carry out a Child and Family Assessment and consultation will take place with the CDT manager as to the further action required.
2.2 Where it appears that the criteria for CDT are not met but the child may be a Child in Need, the contact or referral will be passed to the Referral and Assessment Service for further action.
2.3 Where there is a dispute in relation to whether the criteria for CDT are met, the matter should be discussed between the relevant Integrated Services Managers for resolution, which may include a joint visit by workers from both teams.
2.4 Where the dispute remains unresolved, the matter should be referred to the Service Managers with a view to resolution.

3. Assessments

3.1 All children who meet the criteria for the CDT will receive a Child and Family Assessment of their need for services
3.2 The Child and Family Assessment will be carried out in consultation with the family, using information from other professionals as appropriate.
3.3 It is the impact the disability has on daily living that is a key part of the assessment
3.4 Additional specialist assessments will be commissioned as necessary, e.g. from:
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sensory Impairment


Parents of children with disability and the child (depending of their age and level of understanding) will be given information about the Disability Register or Sensory Impairment Register as appropriate - see Section 9, Disability Register and Section 10, Sensory Impairment and the Sensory Impairment Register.

4. Child Protection Cases

4.1 In relation to a child with a disability who is not known to CDT and where the primary concern is child protection, CDT will complete the Child and Family Assessment, undertake a Section 47 Enquiry and take any further action under the Coventry Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures as necessary.
4.2 In cases where the child with disability is part of a sibling group, the enquiry will be dealt with jointly by the Referral and Assessment Service (RAS) and CDT. Following the enquiry, a discussion will take place between the RAS and CDT managers as to which team will hold responsibility for the case. Where the RAS retains responsibility for the child's case, CDT will provide advice as necessary relating to issues arising from any disability. However, the assessment process and any instigation of child protection procedures will remain the responsibility of the RAS until such time as the case is formally transferred.
4.3 In cases where there is a child with disability as one of a group of siblings under child protection procedures, joint working will occur between the CDT and the Referral and Assessment Services as agreed between the respective team managers.

5. Services to Children with Disability

5.1 As a general principle, where children and families can receive mainstream services, these should be provided as a way of minimising the impact of disability and avoiding any unnecessary segregation.
5.2 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 make recommendations as to the kind of services or equipment that are required to meet the child's needs.
5.3 Any recommendation for the provision of equipment requires the approval of the CDT manager. If approved, equipment will usually be provided on a long-term loan basis. Where adaptation work through a Disabilities Facilities Grant may be appropriate, the family will be assisted to make the necessary referral for this
5.4 Any other package of services will be referred to the Service Manager for approval.
5.5 The support services that may be included in a support package for a child with disability 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, e.g. Broad Park House;
  • Support Services using direct payments - personal budget or individual budget.
5.6 Where the support services include the provision of residential care or foster care and the child becomes Looked After, a referral will be made to the Short Break Panel for approval and consideration of the division of responsibilities for the costs.
5.7 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.

6. Person Centred Planning

6.1 For children with a disability aged 14 or over, they will be asked to consider whether they wish to adopt a person-centred planning assessment which will enable them to consider what they want to do with their life. It brings together all of the people who are important to the person including family, friends, neighbours, support workers and other professionals involved in their lives.

7. Early Support and the Designated Key Worker scheme

7.1 Coventry Early Support programme has adopted a "Designated" Key Worker scheme for families of children with a disability aged 0 to 5. In order for families to access the Early Support Programme and receive Key Worker services, they must meet the criteria. The programme is designed to improve delivery of services to children with disabilities and complex needs and the criteria reflect this. Access to the scheme requires that the child has either a disability or complex health need. It is recognised that not all children with additional needs receive a medical diagnosis. As such, involvement with a child/family from three health professionals on a basis of high-level intervention (generally taken to be ongoing, with regular therapeutic input), plus one other service will enable families to receive the service.
7.2 A Key Worker is a named person who helps families find their way through what may be a complex network of services. The aim is to assist families by building a 'bridge' between Sure Start/Children's Centres, and the local specialist services such as Child Development Unit, SEN Support Services, Children's Disability Team and Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group Therapy services. The Key Worker acts as a single point of reference for parents who need to ask questions about many different things.
7.3 The core elements of a Key Worker service are:
  • Care Coordination

The Key Worker encourages families to develop their Family Service Plan (FSP). This identifies and records what families see as their current and future priorities/needs.

In order to meet the needs identified by families, the Key Worker will coordinate a Family Service Meeting (FSM), bringing together the family with the team around the child to discuss how the needs can be met together.

Decisions made at the FSM are recorded in the family file and on a Family Service Outcomes form for distribution. This ensures professionals involved are aware of their individual and shared responsibilities.

  • Providing relevant information

The provision of relevant information concerns both families and professionals. The Key Worker may signpost families towards specialist organisations using the 'Contact a Family Directory', which lists organisations that can give timely and accurate information to families concerning their child's needs and condition and put them into contact with people in similar situations. The referring of the family to specific services, agencies or professionals ensures that families can identify the best person to answer their questions.

Knowledge of local services and a guide to services available locally for children can be found at Coventry City Council Family Information Directory.

The Early Support standardised information booklets are a useful guide to some conditions and disabilities, although their use must be supported through the relevant local practitioners.

  • Emotional Support
This aspect of the Key Worker's role is around ensuring that there is active relationship building with families and effective listening. If the Key Worker feels that the family would benefit from professional counselling, consent for referral must be sought.
7.4 "Designated " Key Workers are specifically employed to take on a single role as Key Worker, they may see a large number of families and are independent of other services.
7.5 To assist Designated Key Workers in their role, Coventry has produced a Key worker's Manual. The manual seeks to provide Early Support Key Workers with a "how to" guide to working with families who have been referred to the Early Support Programme. It is a breakdown of the procedures that a Key Worker can put into place to support their practice. It is to be used as a reference guide to support the service delivery and as a working manual, with the Key worker using the documents incorporated.

8. Services to Carers

8.1 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 be undertaken on the Carers Assessment Form

9. Disability Register


Please also see the Disability and Sensory Registration Flowchart

9.1 The Disability Register holds information about children with disability and is a legal requirement for all local authorities.
9.2 Parents are asked whether they wish to supply information about their child for inclusion on the register.
9.3 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.

10. Sensory Impairment and the Sensory Impairment Register


Please also see the Disability and Sensory Registration Flowchart

10.1 Registration as Deaf or Hard of hearing can be offered directly if a hearing impairment has a significant impact on day to day living.
10.2 Registration as Blind or Partially Sighted can be offered by the team following the issue of a BD8/CVI certificate by a Consultant Ophthalmologist


Sensory Impairment Support

The CDT will be able to support to access services for children who have hearing or sight problems and who find it difficult to do normal daily tasks in the home as a result.

The CDT work closely with the Sensory Support Team who can provide:
  • Advice - techniques to carry out day-to-day tasks such as personal care. Sensory Support offers information on education, employment, counselling and other specialist.
  • Equipment - practical suggestions on how to use equipment to help with daily tasks that are difficult because of sight or hearing loss. For example, preparing food and drink or hearing the doorbell.
  • Adaptations - alterations to the family home that might help to manage important daily activities more easily. For example, installing a louder bell for the door or intercom, having a flashing telephone, improving lighting or putting up rails to guide the child with disability around the house. The Occupational Therapists can give advice about suitable alterations and possible help available to organise and fund the work.
  • Personal communication - CDT/Sensory Support Services can recommend ways to reduce difficulties with reading, writing and hearing including giving access to sign language interpreters. Sensory Support/Occupational Therapists can also show how to use communication aids stems such as the phone, text phone, type talk, talking book and cassette service.
  • Mobility - CDT can give advice so a child with sensory impairment can feel safe and confident when moving around in or outside the home.

11. Reviews

11.1 Reviews of Child in Need Plans for children with disability take place within 3 months of the start of the plan and thereafter at least every six months. Reviews are conducted more frequently where circumstances require it, e.g. where there has been a significant change in the child's circumstances or with the resource or resources involved.
11.2 The allocated worker usually conducts the review - contacting all those involved in the plan. The worker will then prepare a summary of the comments and observations made and present it to the CDT manager for approval. Where necessary, changes to the Child in Need Plan will be made and the amended plan circulated to all involved

12. Transition

See Transition Protocol

13. Short Breaks

Short Breaks are part of a continuum of services which support Children in Need and their families; primarily, children with disabilities. They include the provision of day, evening, overnight and weekend activities for the child, and can take place in the child's own home, the home of an approved carer, or in a residential or community setting.

Short Break provision provides the opportunity for children to enjoy new experiences and develop relationships beyond the family as well as allowing the child's carer to gain a break from their caring obligations. This will normally mean the child and the main carer spending a short period away from each other, although some carers may prefer to gain a break without being in different location from the child.

Short Breaks occur on a regular and planned basis and should be part of an integrated programme of support which is regularly reviewed.

Most users of short breaks are disabled children and their families but non-disabled children in need may also receive short breaks. The breaks usually have two aims: to enable the child to participate in fun, interesting and safe activities; and to provide a break from caring for the parents.

13.1 Who can access Short Breaks?

Short Breaks are provided to children with disabilities based on the impact of the child's disability on the family, rather than on a particular medical diagnosis. We take "children with disabilities" to mean those children who, at a minimum, have a condition which meets the definition of a disability in the Disability Discrimination Act - see Section 1, Criteria.

The provision of Short Breaks is based on the assessment of the whole family addressing the child's developmental needs, parenting capacity, and family and environmental factors.

The Short Breaks Provision Matrix sets out our offer to provide quality services fairly and equitably, minimising bureaucratic burden while ensuring that resources are made available to children and families with the greatest need for a service. It illustrates how as needs increase so will the levels of assessment, service provision, and safeguarding which are appropriate to the varying needs; in order to provide a proportionate response to ensure children are safeguarded effectively without unnecessary intrusion into family life.

Along the vertical axis is impact of disability and along the horizontal axis is level of service, assessment and safeguarding in provision. Children whose disability present a low impact on the family are able to access targeted support in the community, while those whose disability present a higher impact on the family are able to access more specialist services, subject to a proportionate system of assessment, planning and reviewing.

See Short Breaks Flowchart, which sets out how short breaks can be accessed for children at all levels of need.

See also:

Short Breaks Request Form - Level 1 and Level 2-3 (CAF arena)

Short Breaks Request Form - Level 3 and Level 4 (social care)

13.2 Referral to Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The Short Breaks Flowchart sets out how children receiving 'low end' (Level 1) services may be referred to CAF so that they may receive 'medium' (Level 2) services.

See Short Breaks Request Form - Level 1 and Level 2-3 (CAF arena)