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Disabled children

If your child has a disability or additional needs there is practical support, information and advice for children, young people and their families.


The level of support that will be required will be different from child to child. We believe that all young people should be seen as individuals. The range of services available in Derbyshire falls into 4 service types:

  • universal - open access provision, services and activities available to all children and young people and may be able to access without additional support
  • emerging needs - co-ordinated support from more than one agency or service
  • intensive - unborn babies, children and young people whose needs are more complex including vulnerable children and those who have a complex disability and / or special educational needs
  • specialist - essential support identified through assessment

Further details of these levels of support can be found in the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children's Partnership threshold document, ensuring unborn babies, children and young people access the right service at the right time, at the lowest appropriate level of intervention.

Universal services

Disabled children and their families told us they wanted to be able to use local universal services, sometimes as a family or for their disabled child, alongside their friends or siblings, and to be confident that staff can meet their individual needs.

These are services and activities that are available to all children and young people and may be able to be accessed without additional support. Access is by self-referral but it's important that the level of need is discussed with the provider so that they are able to understand what additional support may be required to keep children safe and ensure they enjoy the activity. These services include:

These services can be found using the families information service and / or community directory for families.

Emerging needs and intensive services

The majority of disabled children and young people will be able to access universal services. A small number of disabled children and young people will, at times, require a more targeted approach.

Services are designed to support children and young people with additional needs and disabilities. Sometimes these are inclusive groups and sometimes focused on activities for disabled children and young people. Most of these are 'open access' so can be accessed directly without an assessment.

Some children and young people accessing targeted services may also be able to access universal and specialist services with the appropriate support in place.

The services available are listed in the Derbyshire Local Offer. The Derbyshire Local Offer aims to provide information about available services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families, in one place. It includes leisure and activity providers, health and care services, education providers and support groups.

Targeted early help with children's services

Our early help teams work in partnership with schools, health and other universal support teams who can offer information, advice and practical support before the involvement of children's services.

Our targeted early help offer is available to vulnerable children and families and is accessed through Starting Point by the completion of an online early help request form.

Your health visitor, health professional, early years provider, school or college will be able to support you initially with early help and can refer to children's services if you think more targeted support would be helpful.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) graduated response offer

The SEND graduated offer is under final review to ensure it is easy to read and understand.

Specialist services

There are several levels of support and families can move between levels over time as their needs change. If families need more support than the universal, emerging need or intensive services, higher levels of support including overnight breaks can be provided following a comprehensive assessment. Assessments help to ensure fair and equitable access to appropriate services and support to meet a family's individual needs.

Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children's Partnership threshold document provides a vision to ensure that unborn babies, children and young people access the right service at the right time, at the lowest appropriate level of intervention.

For those with the highest levels of need, social care provide or fund essential support to families of children identified through statutory assessment, and who, without this support, would not be able to look after their disabled child. The majority of these young people will be supported by the locality social care teams.

The disabled children's service (DCS) supports children and their families with the most complex needs.

Autism follows a broad spectrum, this could include undiagnosed children and those awaiting diagnosis and as such, there are many children who are managing well within mainstream education and supported by universal and emerging needs services. However, they may require more support and could be identified as a 'child in need' as defined by The Children Act 1989.

Any child who is assessed via the single assessment (completed by a social worker) as a 'child in need' is entitled to a service. To ensure they have the correct support, all services, such as locality teams, schools and health have access to consultation and support from the disabled children's service.

A comprehensive guide to all services on offer can be found on Derbyshire Local Offer.