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CoventryChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Children's Disability Team


This chapter was extensively revised in September 2020 and should be re-read.


  1. Criteria
  2. MASH Strategy Discussions for Children with a Disability
  3. Assessments
  4. Requests for Information and Advice for Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Assessments
  5. Child in Need (CIN) Visits and Reviews
  6. Preparing for Adulthood
  7. Early Support for Children under 5 with Disabilities
  8. Disability Register
  9. Sensory Impairment and the Sensory Impairment Register
  10. Short Breaks

1. Criteria

1.1 Legislative framework

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 disability 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”.

1.2 Children's disability team (CDT) criteria

Criteria for access to Children 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.

To meet the criteria, the child will need to be diagnosed to have one or more of the following:

  • Permanent and substantial physical disability;
  • Significant learning disability;
  • A significant sensory impairment;
  • A chronic and serious health problem.

Children 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;
  • The disability is such that it requires a service that is specialist.

The Children's Disability Team does not take referrals for children with mental health problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHA) or autism unless they have an additional (dual) diagnosis as above. The exception to this is children and young people who have been admitted in to a Tier 4 bed under the Mental Health Act (1983) under the Transforming Care agenda (specifically for children or young people with learning disabilities and/or autism).

Where there is a query around whether the CDT criteria is met, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team manager or area team manager (where the child and family are already open) and CDT team manager should have a discussion and decide the most appropriate allocation based on the needs of the child and the individual circumstances. Where a resolution is not reached by the team managers, operational leads should then decide the most appropriate allocation based on the needs of the child and the individual circumstances.

1.3 Siblings of children who have disabilities

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

If a child is open to CDT and concerns arise about a sibling(s) who are not open to Children's Services, the sibling(s) should be referred to the MASH. The siblings will then to be allocated to the current social worker to undertake a Child and Family Assessment. If this assessment identifies that the sibling(s) meet the criteria for services under Section 17 or Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 the sibling(s) will remain open to CDT.

2. MASH Strategy Discussions for Children with a Disability

Where a safeguarding concern has been referred to the MASH in relation to a child or young person who would ordinarily meet the criteria for CDT, a team manager or senior practitioner from CDT will join the strategy discussion.

If the reason for the referral is primarily related to safeguarding concerns, as opposed to the child's disability, the child will be allocated within the area teams. Depending on the child's needs and presenting circumstances, a social worker from CDT will be identified to provide specialist advice and support. This will be agreed at the strategy meeting.

3. Assessments

3.1 Child and family assessments

All children who are transferred to CDT following a referral to the MASH will receive a child and family (C&F) assessment of their need for support and services within 35 working days. For child & family assessments, see Assessments Procedure.

If this is a request for information and advice in respect of an education, health and care plan (EHCP) assessment, a family conversation is required in the first instance to consider if an assessment is required. If C&F assessment is required, this will be completed within 35 working days. Please see Section 4, Requests for Information and Advice for Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Assessments for further information about EHCP requests.

3.2 Carer's assessments

Services can also be provided to carers where the child has a disability. 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 carer's assessment form.

The Children and Families Act 2014 amends the Children Act 1989 requiring local councils to assess parent carers on the appearance of need or where an assessment is requested by the parent. This is called parent carer needs assessment. This assessment can be combined with the child and family assessment and could be carried out by the same person at the same time.

4. Requests for Information and Advice for Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Assessments

Requests for information and advice for education, health and care plan assessments (EHCPs) are requests under the Children and Family Act 2014 for a child and family assessment as part of the EHCP needs assessment process. Children's Services are required in law to respond to this request within 6 weeks through the provision of a report, whether a Children and Families Assessment is required or not.

The MASH will receive requests from the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team for information and advice in respect of Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) Assessments.

All new requests for information and advice for children not known to Children's Services be completed by the CDT.

For requests for information and advice where the child is known to Children's Services, the information and advice will be completed by the allocated Social Worker.

See EHCP Request Process Map.

5. Child in Need (CIN) Visits and Reviews

5.1 Child in need visits

All children allocated within CDT who have disabilities and who are supported via child in need plans are visited at a minimal interval of every 4 weeks for the first 6 months of involvement. Following on from this, visits may take place at a minimum interval of every 8 weeks if this is accordance with the needs of the child and family. The decision to visit at a minimum of 8 weekly intervals must be made in conjunction with a team manager and the rationale recorded on a management oversight. Team managers must add an “8 weekly visits” case status to the child's record on Protocol when the decision to commence 8 weekly visits is made. The frequency of visits must continue to be reviewed and recorded in supervision. Should the situation of the child / family change and require a higher visiting frequency, then a management oversight should be recorded, and the case status ended.

An example of when 8 weekly visits may be appropriate is children who are receiving an overnight short break which is working well. With this support the child's needs are met; there are no risk factors associated with parenting capacity and there is not a risk of family breakdown.

Examples of when a higher frequency of visiting is required are as follows;

  • When there are other risk factors such as domestic abuse, alcohol / drug misuse, parental mental health difficulties, missing episodes or potential contact with risky adults;
  • When other agencies are reporting concerns about the welfare of the child;
  • When there is a risk of family breakdown, even with a care package in place;
  • When the social worker is developing a relationship with the child.

5.2 Child in Need Meetings and plans

Child in Need Meetings will take place at a minimum of 6 weekly intervals for the first 6 months of involvement. As with the frequency of visits, Child in Need Meetings will then be held at intervals of at least once every 3 months, if this is in accordance with the needs of the child and family. Child in Need Meetings should be more held more frequently if required; in line with the needs of the child and family. The frequency must continue to be reviewed and recorded in supervision.

6. Preparing for Adulthood

Preparing for adulthood is an experience common to all children and can apply at different ages dependent on individual need and ability. For some children some additional thought and consideration may be required to assist parents to prepare their children for adult life and essentially legislation requires officers of the local authority to consider this specifically between the ages of 14 and 25 years. In Coventry when young people move from childhood to adulthood this is has been known as a 'transition'. Whilst this applies to all young people, this guidance specifically relates to those that have or have the appearance of need and where service provision already exists.

See Preparing for Adult Hood – Supporting Children to Transition

7. Early Support for Children under 5 with Disabilities

7.1 What is Early Support?

The Early Support Team is set up to improve the delivery of services for families of children with disabilities or complex health needs aged 0-5 years and not in full time education.

The team aims to help deliver coordinated services for parents and carers, achieved by a designated key worker working with the family. The role of the key worker is to ensure that families receive help, support and information acting as an advocate for the family.

In order for families to access the early support programme and receive key worker services, the child would either have 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 from three health professionals on a basis of high-level intervention (generally taken to be ongoing, with regular therapeutic input), will enable families to receive the service.

7.2 What is a family key worker? 

A key worker is someone you can turn to for help, support and information. The key worker would bring together education, social care, health services and the voluntary sector to deliver a co-ordinated response to families. Every family's needs are different, but a key worker could:

  • Provide Information;
  • Co-ordinate services/appointments;
  • Provide emotional support;
  • Address whole family needs;
  • Give support in meetings, and act as an advocate for families;
  • Help your family to get the best from services;
  • Follow the below link to see 'Support for Under 5s'.
This service is available following completion of a referral to the MASH by completing a MARF (Multi Agency Referral Form).

8. Disability Register

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 Disability Register.

The Disability Register holds information about children with disability and is a legal requirement for all local authorities.

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 to assist Adult Services with information on future service needs.

9. Sensory Impairment and the Sensory Impairment Register

Registration as Deaf or Hard of Hearing can be offered directly if a hearing impairment has a significant impact on day to day living.

Registration as Blind or Partially Sighted can be offered by the team following the issue of a BD8/CVI certificate by a Consultant Ophthalmologist.

10. Short Breaks

10.1 What are 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. 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.

10.2 Who can access Short Breaks?

All children and young people who have a disability (as defined in section 17 (11) of the Children Act 1989) and live in Coventry are entitled to receive a short break.

The Short Breaks Service Statement sets out the types of short breaks which are available in Coventry, the eligibility criteria and how to access short breaks.

10.3 How to find out more about Short Breaks

You can find out more information about Short Breaks, including activities available and the process for accessing the service through one of the following:

Phone: 024 7678 7980

10.4 Other useful contacts and links

Coventry SEND Information, Advice and Support Service

Phone: 024 7669 4307

Coventry Local Offer:


Coventry Family Hubs


Coventry Family Information Directory


10.5 One Voice Parent's Group

One Voice is made up of parents and carers who have come together to influence, shape and develop services for children and young people 0-25 years with a disability and/or additional need in Coventry. For parents/carers to get involved, they can contact via the below:

Phone: 078 7424 2733