Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

W3C Compliance

5.1 Children's Disability Service


Short Breaks Procedure


This chapter was reviewed and amended in May 2017 to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.


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

1. Eligibility Criteria

1.1 The eligibility criteria for the Children with Disabilities Team in Merton establishes the threshold at which a referral in relation to a child with a disability will be accepted for a child/ren requiring specialist social care service.
1.2 Where a child with disabilities and they meet the eligibility criteria for specialist intervention, these cases will be referred to the Children with Disabilities Team, hereon after referred to as CWD
1.3 The child must have a permanent or long lasting disability (diagnosed by a GP r or Consultant) and be severely or profoundly impaired. Consideration will also be given to other children who have a significant number of moderate impairments.
1.4 The eligibility criteria do not include children diagnosed with ADHD or HIV or a psychiatric illness.
1.5 Any children diagnosed with ADHD or HIV or a psychiatric illness will only be eligible for referral to the Children with Disabilities Team, therefore, if they also have other disabilities which meet the criteria.
1.6 Where mainstream social workers hold cases of children who might be considered to have a disability appropriate advice and support can be made available from the Children with Disabilities Team.

2. Referral Process

2.1 Where a referral is received and it appears that the criteria is met, consultation will take place and advice sought as to the suitability of transferring the case. Where there are safeguarding and concerns Section 4, Child Protection Cases.
2.2 Where there is a dispute, the matter should be discussed between the allocated social worker and their supervising manager with a view to resolution.
2.3 Where the dispute remains unresolved, the matter should be referred to a Head of Service for a case consultation and final recommendations being made.

3. Assessment Process

3.1 Children who meet the eligibility criteria for the Children with Disabilities Team will receive a Single Assessment (see Single Assessment Guidance) of their need for services.
3.2 The Single Assessment will be carried out in consultation with the child (using Makaton or other tools as need be), the family or foster carer using information from other core professionals as appropriate.
3.3 The key part of the assessment will determine the impact of the child’s disability on a day to daily living and the family’s overall functioning.

Additional specialist assessments may be commissioned as necessary from:

  • Occupational Therapy;
  • Sensory Impairment;
  • Play Therapists;
  • CAMHS;
  • Clinical Psychologists;
3.5 The assessment may identify that there are multiple complex needs arising due to a child's age and disability or as a result of their parent's current health. Therefore, this may impact on child and they are at risk of significant harm and may be in need of immediate protection from abuse or neglect - see Section 4, Child Protection Cases.
3.6 Parents of children with disability and the child (depending of their age and level of understanding) will be given information about the Disability Register - see Section 7, Disability Register.

4. Child Protection Cases

4.1 With new referrals, (i.e. where the case is not open to the CWD Service), where the primary concern is child protection, following the Single Assessment carried out by the MASH Service, a discussion will take place between the relevant Team Manager within the MASH Service and the Children with Disabilities Team, as to which team will hold case responsibility. Where the MASH Team retain responsibility for the child's case pending transfer to another team, appropriate advice will be provided by the CWD Service relating to issues arising from any disability. However, the assessment process and any instigation of child protection procedures will remain the responsibility of the MASH Service until such time as the case is formally transferred.
4.2 The Children with Disabilities Team will usually undertake all Section 47 Enquiries, assessments and legal proceedings in respect of children who are already open cases, although appropriate consultation will be made with colleagues in MASH and other social care teams regarding any practice issues arising.
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 teams, as agreed between the respective managers.

5. Services to Children with Disability

As a general principle, where children and families can receive mainstream and inclusive services, these should be provided.

Where the assessment identifies that specialist services are required, these may be provided by health or voluntary partners as well as Merton. The assessment will make recommendations as to the kind of services or equipment that are required to meet the child's needs.

Any recommendation for the provision of adaption/equipment requires the approval from the Head of Service (Special Educational, Needs, Disabilities and Inclusion, SENDIS). If this is approved, adaptations/equipment will usually be provided on a long term loan basis. Adaptation work through a Disabilities Facilities Grant can be also carried out by making a referral to Merton and the family will be supported to do this.

The level of support services that may be included in a care package for a disabled child and his/her family could include:

  • 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 family home;
  • Day care services such as child minding;
  • Short breaks and Respite providing overnight care - see Short Breaks Procedure;
  • Support services using direct payments - see the Direct Payments Scheme Procedure.
When a care package has been approved , 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. (NB Where appropriate see Young Carers Procedure.

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.

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

Reviews of Child in Need Plans for children with disabilities take place within 3 months of the start of the plan and thereafter at least annually. 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.

The review is usually chaired by the allocated worker contacting all those involved in the plan. The social worker will then prepare a summary of the observations made and present it to Team Manager for approval. Where necessary, changes to the Child in Need Plan will be made and the amended plan circulated to all professionals involved as set out in Child in Need Plans and Review Procedure.

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