0-25 Disability Social Care


Children and young people with disabilities have the same rights as others.  We want to make sure that they and their families have the social care information, guidance and support, where needed, to help them meet their potential. Every child, young person and family is different so we will always work with you to make sure what we do is right for you and your family.

We want to be sure that they grow up with the right support that will give them the same opportunities as other children, including accessing universal services and being able to lead fulfilling lives.

You can request a social care assessment by calling 0345 045 5203.  This is the first point of contact for all of Children's Social Care.  They will ask you some questions to help decide who is best placed to respond to your request. You can find out more on the Children's Social Care webpage.

If you are over 17 and a half and are not already supported by disability social care 0-25, you can request an adult social care assessment.

Disability Social Care Assessment for disabled children and young people aged 0-18

If your child or young person has a disability they are entitled to an assessment. When we assess the needs of disabled children and young people we take into account the needs of their parents and carers and other children in their immediate family.

A member of staff from one our Disability Social Care teams will get in touch with you to introduce themselves and the team, talk to you about the assessment process and make arrangements to meet you and your family.

We will ask your permission to talk to other people who know your child/young person and your family’s circumstances. This would include parents (including those who may not live with the child or young person), other adults involved in looking after your child or young person, brothers and sisters, school or college, health professionals and other important people in your child/young person’s life. We will talk to you about who that might be for your child or young person and family. For young people over 16 years they will need to give their permission if they have capacity to do so.

We aim to complete our assessments within a maximum of 45 working days of starting them. We will let you know when the assessment is starting, keep you informed throughout the process and share the completed assessment with you so you have the opportunity to share your views and for these to be recorded within the assessment before it is signed off.

To complete the assessment we will:

  • Talk to you on the phone or virtually to gather information
  • Visit you, your child or young person and other members of the family at home
  • Spend time with your child or young person to get to know them and their views.
  • Visit your child or young person in other places they spend time, such as school or college
  • Talk to others involved and/or ask them to share information about their involvement and how they support your child or young person
  • Look at important documents like your child or young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan, medical reports or other documents, depending on what is relevant to your child or young person
  • We will always involve your child or young person in the assessment process in a way that suits them and will find out from them and others how best to do this

Some of the things that we consider during the assessment are:

  • Child or young person’s abilities and needs
  • Child or young person’s views, interests and what’s important to them
  • The views of parents and carers
  • Strengths and needs of parents/carers
  • Impact of caring for the child or young person on the family
  • Support available to the child or young person
  • Support available to the family
  • Child/young person’s social networks
  • Home environment, community support, professional network around the child/young person
  • Any other things that are relevant to the child or young person

The information we gather is used to write the assessment report.

We consider the needs identified in the assessment against the support already available to the child/young person and their family, before deciding whether there are any unmet Social Care needs which require additional support or services to meet those needs. We use the 'four tiers of support / needs grid' to determine what level of support a family can be allocated. 

Eligibility and our four tiers of support from assess needs

Please note: Short break funding may be available through self-assessment.

Our working description of disability is:

The needs of the disabled child or young person are beyond those of a non-disabled child of the same age and means they are likely to require lifelong support in the future from statutory services. Under the definition of disabled children in the Children Act 1989, all disabled children are children ‘in need’ and are entitled to an initial assessment. If on assessment the child or young person’s disability is likely to lead to lifelong support from statutory social care services, early help and social care funding support will be offered as follows:

  • If assessment identifies need at level 2 or more on the needs grid below Early Help funding support will be offered for the local social care short break
  • If assessment identifies need at levels 3 or 4 on the needs grid below social care support will be offered.

Level 1

General Position Disabled Childs Needs Siblings Needs Parent Carers Needs
Child requires support to access services to broaden experiences and/or prevent build up of stress in family. Child’s level of need limits their participation in community activities and their development would benefit from additional social and leisure activities. Child’s needs are restricting sibling’s opportunities. Child’s needs are impacting on parent’s personal or social lives.

Level 2 - Early Help Funding

General Position Disabled Childs Needs Siblings Needs Parent Carers Needs
Child requires services to prevent impairment of health or development and/or alleviate stress in the family which may lead to risk in 3 or 4 Child’s level of need results in them being unable to participate in community activities which increases impairment. Child’s needs significantly restrict sibling’s personal or social lives. Parents need to provide significant care to other dependents who would otherwise be at risk OR child’s needs are significantly impacting on parent’s personal or social lives.

Level 3 - Early Help / Social Care support

General Position Disabled Childs Needs Siblings Needs Parent Carers Needs
Child very vulnerable to risk of significant impairment of health or development OR the need for long term accommodation Child’s level of need results in lifelong impact with likely lifetime support from statutory social care services. Child’s needs are impacting on well-being and development of siblings. Child’s needs met but at significant cost to their own physical or mental health OR serious risk of family breakdown.

Level 4 - Early Help / Social Care support

General Position Disabled Childs Needs Siblings Needs Parent Carers Needs
Services required to prevent immediate risk of significant impairment which might directly affect child’s growth, development, physical or mental well-being OR to prevent the need for long term accommodation. Child’s essential care or medical needs or need for emotional development and stimulation cannot be met. Sibling’s essential needs cannot be met because of disabled child’s needs. Neither child’s nor parent’s essential needs are being met.

There is a range of support that can be made available to meet the assessed needs. The support that is offered, however, should address the needs identified in the assessment. It is also recognised that needs and circumstances change over time for disabled children and their families. These needs will be considered in reviews and re-assessments as appropriate but families may also wish to ask for a new assessment if their circumstances change.

Please note:

  • This Eligibility Criteria was agreed by Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet on 21 April 2009.
  • The eligibility criteria have not been changed but this web page has been updated with current contact details and by making the contents of the eligibility document (PDF) available directly on the page 6 January 2020.
Examples of support, provision and signposting following an assessment

If the outcome of the assessment is that a child is eligible for support (at levels 2, 3 or 4 as detailed above) these are some examples of support, provision and signposting that may be provided.

  • Support for children or young person to do things in their community
  • Support for the child or young person to develop independence and life skills appropriate to them
  • Support to meet personal care needs appropriate to them
  • The opportunity for children and families to have a short break
  • Support to families and carers
  • Support to think about and prepare for the future
  • Our aim is always to encourage the use of inclusive activities and services that are available to all. We will provide information and advice about these and support children and young people to use them as independently as possible.
  • You can register with the Special needs Community Information Point (SCIP), our information and advice service for families with 0-25 year olds with a disability or additional needs.
  • For children and young people with very complex needs, specialist services may be required. These will be provided by health, education and social care working together.
  • For children and young people who may need some additional support overnight, following social care assessment and agreement at the Disabled Children's Panel, support can be provided through the use of direct payments or at one of the three Cambridgeshire County Council Children's Homes who offer short term and longer term overnight stays.

If you are not eligible for our services, we will give you information about other sources of support.

Referral and Access Team (also short break funding)

How resources are allocated

Following an assessment (for children up to 18 year olds):

  • the Disabled Childrens Referral and Access Team will continue to support you and review your short break plans if you are eligible for short breaks funding
  • If your child and family meet the eligibility for disability social care support, you will work with one of the Disabled Children’s Social Care teams detailed below.
Social Work Teams

These teams provide social work support and care management for children and families with complex needs who meet our eligibility criteria. The team will:

  • Work closely with you, your child and relevant others
  • Offer the option of a personalised budget to meet agreed social care needs of your child
  • Visit your child every six weeks and review their needs at least every twelve weeks
  • Update the assessment and plan every year or more often if things change
  • Support children in the care of the local authority when their needs cannot be met at home
Young Adults Team (transition to Adult Social Care)

The Young Adults Team supports young adults with an EHCP who have a diagnosed learning disability from 18 up to the age of 25 to move into adulthood, to make choices and be as independent as possible.

The team will:

  • Complete social care assessments and reviews
  • Work together with health colleagues to complete assessments related to their learning disability
  • Develop support plans for those eligible to help people meet their goals they want to achieve in adult life, for example work, interests, living arrangements, staying healthy and safe, money, friendships and being part of the community.
  • Provide advice, information and access to other services and support
  • Support the growing autonomy, choices, decision making and rights of young adults
  • Work closely with children, young people, families and others who support them before they reach 18 to enable early preparation for adulthood
  • Plan for and support the move on to other adult support as needed when the person is settled in adult life (this will be when its right for the person but must be before they are 25)

If a young person has a children’s social worker already they will have a key role in preparing for adulthood and ensuring that any social care support provided is focused on thinking about and planning for the future. For some, this will also lead into identifying what support may be needed in the longer term so that the young person and their parents or carers will know what they can expect and what support they will have if they are eligible for adult services. Children's social workers will start to work alongside the Young Adults Team so that the adult social care assessment and support planning process is completed and, for those eligible, in place for them when they turn 18.

There will be some young people who do not have a children’s social worker but who will or may need social care support as an adult. A young person, a parent or a professional who is involved can contact Adult Social Care.  You can find out more information and the contact details on the adult social care support webpage if needed.

The Preparing for Adulthood protocol document below gives more detail of the process.

There is general advice and support for everyone on our preparing for adulthood section within the local offer.

Contact for more information

Disabled Children’s Referral & Access Team

Related Pages

  1. Short Breaks offer
  2. Social care personal budgets and Direct Payments - Disability Social Care 0-19


  1. Disability Social Care Children's Eligibility September 2019
  2. Preparing for Adulthood Disability Social Care protocol Oct 2022


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