Assessing Your Needs

The Disabled Children and Young Adults Team within Darlington Borough Council offers support to children and young adults with learning and physical disabilities. To decide what support is appropriate we must undertake an Assessment of Need. When a referral to the Team is received, a Social Worker will be allocated to undertake the Assessment of Need. Following this Assessment, a decision will be made as to whether the child or young adult is eligible to receive a service from the Team. To ensure that our services are targeting the appropriate children and young adults, we apply an Eligibility Criteria when looking at eligibility following an Assessment. This criterion is explained within this document and within the accompanying guidance notes. The intention of these criteria is to ensure that we do not simply consider the diagnosis that a child or young adult may have; we will also look at the effects their disability has on their day to day life.

To be eligible for a children’s service from the Disabled Children and Young Adults Team, children and young adults must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be aged between 0 and 17 and be ordinarily resident in Darlington.
  2. Have complex needs (in addition to any behavioural problems that may be present), or have a serious or life threatening illness.
  3. There must be evidence that the child or young adult’s additional needs impact significantly on their ability to enjoy ordinary day to day activities.
  4. The child or young adult must require a much greater level of day to day care to meet their needs than would usually be required for a person of that age.
  5. They must require a significantly higher level of support in at least three of the following areas than would usually be required for their age:
    a) Personal care and supervision
    b) Education or employment
    c) Access to social activities
    d) Communication
    e) The physical environment
    f) Condition management
  6. The child or young adult’s condition is life limiting, or expected to last 6 months or more.

For more information please see the Eligibility Criteria for Children and Young People [PDF document]


Documents Used in Assessment

Although these documents look complicated Darlington has kept them for assessment because they help us to look at family comparisons and to ensure that we are being fair.

Often people think that because their child has the same disability as another child, services and support will be the same. However, the assessment also identifies what particular strengths the family may have, the ways in which disability impacts on their lives and what supports the family has in place. So a family with a disabled child may be healthy and prosperous and well supported by their relatives and friends and their level of need may be limited to help with enabling the child to socialise outside the family. Another family may have a similarly disabled child but they are caring for their elderly relatives, or they cannot work due to caring responsibilities or their own health problems. Their level of need becomes greater and may include short breaks with support inside or out of the home.

Threshold of Needs

This document should be completed with the worker but you may have been able to complete most of this yourself.  The worker also seeks information from other professionals which helps to complete this threshold and helps to get different perspectives on the family. The columns have a scoring system and this should enable the service to look at scores and compare family profiles and support to monitor fairness.

Scale of Support

This document gives an indication of levels of support based on scores and example profiles.  In the scale we have separated out complex health and physical disabilities from behavioural issues and the score for levels on behavioural issues are lower to achieve similar levels of support. This is because the threshold document has a bias for physical disability and parents helped us to identify this and amend. However if a child has physical and behavioural issues it is advantageous to the family to use the behavioural scale and this is agreed. We would hope that with good planning and interventions behavioural issues can be lessened and resolved and this would trigger a re-assessment using the Complex Health scale.

Child in Need and Family Support Plan

The child and family support plan has several purposes. It can be used as a ‘passport’ for disabled children who are being supported by different people at different times. It gives a lot of detail about the likes and care needs of the child and should be changed as the child develops. It should give enough information to enable a new carer/support worker to understand how to work with the child confidently and safely. It is also used to detail the needs of the child and family, to describe the needs and to record intended outcomes of the service/support provision. This helps with reviewing the support and gauging the effectiveness of the service/support. If a service is not achieving the outcomes we need to be more creative and find better ways to support the family. Personal Budget pilots have helped us to test the Child in Need and Family Support plans and work on outcomes for children and parent/carers. These will continue to be rolled out in the future as a move towards personalisation.