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Assessing your needs

Disabled Children

Disabled Children have a right to an assessment under the Children Act 1989. If requested we will undertake an Assessment of Need which is called a Children and Families Assessment (C&F).

To request this assessment a referral is made to the First Point of contact team. A referral is simply a telephone call to the Children's Front Door or a completed form being sent by a professional involved with you or the child.

Children's Front Door

When the Team receives a referral, a Social Worker is 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 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 4 and 17 years and a resident in Darlington. (Children aged under 4 years who have a disability can be referred to the Early Help Team. Do this via the Children’s Initial Advice Team for support in relation to their disability. This is because all very young children usually need a high level of care, support and supervision from a care giver. In exceptional circumstances, Early Help could make a referral to the Disabled Children and Young Adults Team)
  2. Have complex needs (in addition to any behavioural problems including ADHD and ADD 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;
    1. Personal care and supervision
    2. Education or employment
    3. Access to social activities
    4. Communication
    5. The physical environment
    6. 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 aged 4-17 [pdf document]

If you are not eligible we will signpost you to where you could get support. This may be from services who already work with you or through community and family support.  If you are eligible the Social Worker will then work with you to develop a plan of need/support/outcomes called a Child in Need Plan (CIN). 


For Adults (Aged 18 or over) an assessment is carried out under The Care Act (2014). To request this assessment a referral is made to the First Point of Contact. A referral is simply a telephone call or a completed form sent by a professional involved with you. For more information please visit the adult services web pages.

When the Team is receives a referral, a worker will be allocated to undertake the Assessment of Need. As part of this Assessment, a decision will be made as to whether the individual is eligible to receive a support.

Preparing for Adulthood (Transition)

Transition is a term usually used to describe the process of moving from being a child to an adult. The Care Act (2014) requires that for those who are likely to have needs as an adult that a transitions assessment is undertaken. These assessments (a Care and Support Needs “Adults” Assessment) should take place at a time when the local authority can be reasonably confident about what the young person’s needs or support will look like after the young person in question turns 18. There is no set age when young people reach this point as will take. Every young person and their family are different so the transition assessment will take place when it is most appropriate for them. We often find that shortly after their 17th birthday works well for a lot of young people.

Life Stage Service

In Darlington the Life Stage Service  have abandoned the traditional system of transferring young adults to another team at 18 as we recognise that Young Adults and their family’s value consistency and stability during a time in their life where there is considerable change.  This will usually mean the allocated social worker remains with the Young Adult as they journey into adulthood. Social Workers in the Life Stages Service have been developing their skills and knowledge to ensure they can assist Young Adults during this phase of their lives.

At the present time The Life Stages Service is reviewing how it supports individuals in preparing for adulthood. They are working with Inclusion North to review our current arrangements. 

Inclusion North [pdf document]

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