Challenging a Refusal to Assess your Disabled Child

Challenging a refusal to assess your disabled child for specialist services

Disability Living Allowance Hearing

Has your council told you that they will not assess your disabled child so that they might have access to short breaks or any other support services or help? This is not about your child’s EHCP by the way but about all of the other help your child could get from your local council to support you and your family. Find out here about how legislation in health and social care can help you access short breaks and other help your child needs. 

Irwin Mitchell have very kindly helped Sky Badger put these legal guides together. You can find them as well as lots of other organisations and charities specialising in legal advice at the bottom of this page.

How to ask for an assessment

Is there a minimum age?

There is no minimum age for a child to be ‘in need’ and for an assessment to be required.

Does my child need a diagnosis?

There is no requirement for a formal diagnosis before there is a duty to assess.

Here are the steps to guide you through the process…

 

  1. Ask if an assessment can be carried out from their social worker or the duty worker from the Disabled Children’s Team. The request can be made on the telephone, face-to-face or in writing by letter or email. Parents can simply ask “will the council carry out an assessment of my child under section 17 of the Children Act 1989?”
  1. If the answer is ‘no’, then a version of the letter suggested below can be sent. Local Authorities only have one working day to decide what type of response is required and to acknowledge receipt, so if no response is received within a few days, it is appropriate to write the letter  and send it back to your Local Authority.
Disability Living Allowance Hobbies

A Guide to the Care Act

What happens when my disabled child becomes an adult?

The Care Act 2014 offers carers more rights and protection both for themselves and the also the disabled adult they care for too.

Click here to find out how the Care Act can help you and your family here.

What does a 'child in need' mean?

Children are ‘in need’ if they need help from the council with their health or development or if they are ‘disabled’. The term ‘disabled’ under the Children Act 1989 has a very wide meaning. It includes any mental disorder or any substantial and permanent physical disability.

It will be unlawful to refuse to assess children because they have a particular type of disability – for example ADHD or Asperger syndrome.

Legal duties upon Local Authorities

Assessments under the Children Act 1989 (and for carers under the Children and Families Act 2014) are the first part of the legal process that councils must go through in order to decide if a disabled child and / or their carers should be provided with services. The law says that councils must assess every child who is or may be a child ‘in need’ (see definition below under sources of reference).

  • Any assessment has to be carried out in accordance with the Framework for the assessment of children in need (‘the Assessment Framework’) which requires assessments to be carried out quickly and to cover all the areas of potential need that a child may have.
  • In some areas, disabled children and young people may be able to access some services without an assessment, such as clubs, however generally an assessment will be the way in which disabled children and their families access support services, short breaks, and funding via direct payments to buy these types of services.

Social Services Assessment...What happens next?

Once an assessment has been carried out the local authority must then decide whether it is necessary to provide the child with a service. Many authorities use their own ‘eligibility criteria’ to help them reach this decision, which must be published and available for families to see.

The social worker should then produce a “child in need plan” setting out what care and support is going to be provided, when, and how. The support to be provided to the carer, such as short breaks and respite, can be included in the same child in need plan.

REFUSAL TO ASSESS TEMPLATE LETTER

Click here to find a template letter from Irwin Mitchell which can be sent when a council has refused to carry out an assessment. The letter should be sent, by fax, email and post if possible, to Director of Children’s Services and also to the social worker (if parents have one) and to the Lead Member for Children’s Services (the councillor who is in charge of children’s services for the council). Click on the Link below, scroll down to the Heading Health and Social Care, below that are template letters.  Click on “Challenging a refusal to assess your Disabled Child for Specialist Services.”

What should I do next?

  • Parents should always try to resolve disputes with the local authority through discussions.
  • If an assessment has taken place and nothing has happened as a result, or parents strongly disagree with the conclusions of an assessment (which may be that the Local Authority does not need to provide services) then it will be necessary to take specialist advice.
  • If there is no response to a letter sent such as the one below requesting an assessment then again specialist advice will need to be taken.

Browse loads of other legal support here

Use our directory to find lots of organisations and charities that can give you great legal advice for you and your family.

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EHCP

Find help and guidance about the EHCP process here.

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DLA

Find your step by step guide to filling out your child's application.

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Holiday Grants

Find lots of charities giving holiday grants for you and your family.

Looking for something else?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

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Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

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Useful technology & kit

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Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

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Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

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Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Shopping with Autism or Behavioural Problems

Shopping with or for a kid with additional needs can sometimes be traumatic. Whether you’re dealing with a full-on tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, or trying to get a wheelchair round a cute little craft shop, or finding clothes that meet your child’s very specific requirements, an activity that should be fun can quickly become a nightmare. There are lots of things you can (and should!) do to make your life a little easier.

Check out our accessibility information – here you’ll find out how to check in advance if you can get a wheelchair around the places you want to go to.
Shop online. You can buy just about anything you need from the comfort of your home. This means that shopping trips can instead become opportunities to enjoy time with your child, to develop their social, maths or literacy skills. When you’re shopping online, you have some specific rights to protect you.

The National Autistic Society has some great advice about shopping strategies.

LOST IN TRANSITION – PART 15

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

This morning as I looked in my rear view mirror, I noticed Max's hand print in the frost. It was a freezing cold day and I left the print there for ages, reluctantly watching it melt away as I defrosted the rear window slower than was probably safe.

I now have a tiny new white car to fit in with my post-divorce restyling. I tend to notice new things with my car as a consequence of its sheer tininess, it is by no means a mummy car. The car has become known as Cary McCarface after the almost named boat. You might remember the news story, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/17/boaty-mcboatface-wins-poll-to-name-polar-research-vessel. The Natural Environment Research Council put out a public vote to name their new boat. Over 124,000 votes went to “RRS Boaty McBoatface” but it was decided that it wouldn’t be a dignified enough name and the boat was eventually named “RRS David Attenborough”, which came in fifth. I also quite liked some of the other suggestions including “RRS It’s bloody cold here” and “RRS Mr Splashy Pants”.  

So as a completely pointless act of defiance, our new car has a silly name that makes me smile. It is also far too small for my needs and fogs up immediately whatever the weather. But it does have a top that comes down so the boys can wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care and the front of the car looks like it’s smiling all the time. It kind of makes up for the shock lack of boot space, almost.

That handprint still stays clear in my mind as we drive to school. It makes me think about how big those hands have become. How I didn’t think they would ever get that big. It made me remember how many times I'd held those little hands in doctor's offices, how many hospital ID bands they had worn and how frightened I was every single minute, of every single day for years and years.

I realised that I hadn’t done that silent crying thing for ages while driving. There was a track by Athlete called Wires LINK < https://youtu.be/uriGngTXyrE > that had silly amounts of radio play when Max was at his worst. It was about the writer’s own daughter when she was in hospital.

“Running down corridors,

Through automatic doors,

Got to get to you

Got to see this through.

First night of your life,

Curled up on your own.

Looking at you now

You would never know..

I see it in your eyes

You'll be alright”.

I remember wallowing in those lyrics for weeks. Now they just make me angry because for so many of us “You’ll be alright” turned out to be nonsense. What I do think now is some days he’ll be alright and some days he won’t. I watched Max, shaggy haired in my rear view mirror and realised that today was an alright day. I smiled at him, he smiled back and said "What?". He’s so age appropriate sometimes. Happy.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

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Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Lost in Transition – part 12

Grange Hill

When I was growing up, Grange Hill was what a state comprehensive school was all about. That sausage, Zammo and Ro-LAND were my anti-heroes. Now, (a horrific 30 years later) my two strapping mini-men are both at a state Comprehensive School....but this one is different.

I think a lot of it comes down to the support they’ve both had. Obviously, Max needs a huge amount of medical support but it’s the communication help that’s made all the difference. The speech therapists, the OT, the constant encouragement academically and socially. The school even runs a board games club that (without any pressure) helps build turn taking skills and helps Max work on his small talk.

You have to understand where Max came from to get how big this is. Max went from being pretty much non-verbal in yr. 7 to in yr. 11 sitting exams, having a girlfriend, done his bronze DofE, going to college and he’s just been approved to do the NCS over the Summer.

The school has a sibling group too. My youngest found Max’s needs really hard to cope with and he still does if I’m honest. But knowing that other friends at school are in the same boat in having brothers and sisters with special needs was life changing to him. After that first sibling group meeting it was as if he exhaled for the first time in years. In the last year, he’s gradually came out of his shell. He’s become less angry and found that he does like some lessons. He got into sport in a big was and now does squash, tennis, rugby, climbing and fencing. He got his bronze award last night!

I know mums do this annoying bragging stuff on FB all the time but my two have had some extraordinarily tough times. They haven't always done well, been well mentally or physically, fitted in or even been that happy at times. Getting them into the right school might just be the very best thing I've ever done for either of them.

So why am I telling you this? Well, because I’ve made a tonne of mistakes. I kept them both in schools that were not right for them because I was scared to make a fuss. I didn’t ask the questions I should have, I took ‘professionals’ word as gospel even when I knew something was wrong. I was so afraid of not being liked, scared that ‘professional’ would think I was crazy or difficult.

The school they now attend has made an enormous difference to who they could become…I worked for my two so why don’t you suggest your child’s school starts a games club? Or offers the DofE to their SEN student? Or starts up a sibling club?

Become a pain in the arse, get things moving. For what it’s worth, I don’t care what ‘professionals’ think about me anymore. I will be as difficult and crazy as I need to be to make absolutely sure that my two get the best chances they can. Because when I do my best, they seem to fly. They have this strength, a kind of internal generator that pushes them onto bigger and better things. I can't tell them any of this obviously but I don't think I'll ever give up the hugs at the school gate even though they are bigger than me. They are my new heroes and I hope they know it.

 

If you’re in the same place, you might want to check out these useful links…

The National Autistic Societyhttp://www.autism.org.uk

Epilepsy Action - https://www.epilepsy.org.uk

Duke of Edinburgh Awards – SEN support

http://www.dofe.info/go/additionalneeds/

National Citizen Awards - http://www.ncsyes.co.uk/summer?gclid=Cj0KEQjw6-PJBRCO_br1qoOB4LABEiQAEkqcVZSGfXbrVy5PzJNblpdaAR-gZKsptFVxtV-w3QXz98UaApeY8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

 

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

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Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

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Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Respite and Babysitting

Respite, Babysitting, Direct Payments & Personal Budgets

respite care for children with special needs

Everyone needs a break. Finding the right babysitter can really improve the quality of your and your child’s life. Your child needs a break from you, too. Whatever your child’s needs, there is always someone out there with the skills to help.

Depending on your child’s needs, you might be able to pay for babysitting through direct payments.

Personal Budgets

The new SEN and Disability reform bill says that your Local Authority needs to prepare a personal budget with your child's care and health plan. Your child's personal budget gives you a lot more choice about the services your child uses to support them. This might include direct payments that you can use to pay your specialist babysitter or respite care provider.

 

How to find a babysitter

Your local authority disabilities team might have a list of carers that they use. Alternatively, if you receive direct payments, your contact there might have a list of preferred agencies. If you want to find one on your own, here are a few places to look.

Your school or special needs school. There may be staff (teacher/teaching assistant/nursing staff) who would like to help out.
Your local hospice. It will often have a specialised outreach team who do respite in-house as well as out and about.
Remember to vet your babysitter carefully and look into their history as much as you can. Your local authority disabilities team will be able to advise you on how to find and vet a babysitter.

You might also find this advice from Directgov on finding and choosing childcare helpful.

 

Need a longer break?

Check out our holiday zone for ideas for short breaks where your child is fully medically supported – many of these are free or low-cost. Alternatively your local hospice may have weekends you can book in advance. Hospices offer support for a whole range of conditions, so check to see if your child might be included.

A lot of local charities also do days out with carers/chaperones. This might include your local Cerebral Palsy or Mencap group. Chat to your disability social worker, school Senco or special needs school to find local groups (Sky Badger will be expanding next year to include a local search facility, so keep checking back). Primary Times also lists local disability activities.

Personal Budgets

Direct payments can be used for a variety of services that offer your child stimulation, new experiences and independence. This includes short breaks, nursery placement with specialist support for your child, assistance to attend an activity, and personal care.

lovehearts_find-me

To get help paying for a specialist babysitter for your disabled or SEN child, you should contact your local Authority's disabilities team.

They will chat to you about doing an assessment. You can gets lots of help once you've signed up. Including help for your other children, short breaks and direct payments to cover your babysitter.

Find your local disabilities team using the Sky Badger local offer directory.

Sky Badger can also help you with...

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

oqmzwnd3thu-helloquence

Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

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Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.

Sensory Integration Activities, Sensory Toys, & Autism Apps

Sensory Integration Activities

If you’re looking to find ways to engage your child more in every part of their lives, then here are some great places to start. The range of sensory activities is practically endless. You can start with some basic low cost options like Play Doh, custard powder gloop, sand or water play or bubble wrap.

Here are some of Sky Badger’s favourite recipe links here to make some groovy stuff to stimulate and engage your child.

Sensory Toys & Autism Products

Sensory integration activities and toys can be brilliant relaxation tools for kids with all sorts of complex needs, including autism and developmental delays. They’re also great for a huge range of engagement therapies. There are an enormous range of toys to choose, from sensory chew necklace to chewy bracelet and oral motor chewies.

Sky Badger really likes the information and ranges on offer at these great websites…

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Toy Warehouse

Cheap Disability Aids

Special Needs Toys

1000 Recommended Apps for children with special needs...They have compiled a list of 1000 Apps used by Teachers, Therapists and Parents. This list is a result of endless hours of collaboration by professionals from all over the world.

Use the Sky Badger directory to find lots of other  great Apps & Programmes.

Find more

You can also find everything from light ropes to building your own sensory room to weighted blankets using the Sky Badger directory

Can we help you with anything else?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Education

Find extra help at school, information about Education, Health, Care Plans (EHCP), apps & programmes, tech and IT for supporting learning and sensory activities.

disabled holidays uk

Holidays & Free time

Find holidays, sports, free cinema tickets, theatre, clubs, art, dance, music, days out, make a wish charities and more.

gwvmbgpp-pq-steinar-la-engeland

Useful technology & kit

Find sensory toys, useful technology, trikes and bikes, wheelchairs & mobility.

disabled grants

Finances

Find grants, governemnt benefits and help with your utility and council tax bills.

oqmzwnd3thu-helloquence

Legal stuff

Find out about disability rights, educational and medical law and how to find a specialist advocate or lawyer.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Medical stuff

Find information about your child's medical condition, medicines that they take and mental health support.

Not sure where to turn?

istock_000021104923large

Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.