All disabled* children and young people under the age of 18, are entitled to a social care assessment as ‘children in need’**.
The children and families assessment, is used to see if the child meets the eligibility criteria to receive social care support.
The assessment considers many aspects, including:
- The child’s developmental needs
- Parental capacity
- Environmental factors
The voice of the child and parent carers' views are an important part of the social work assessment, therefore:
- The child will be asked to give their wishes and feelings
- Parent carers will have the opportunity to express their thoughts (they can also do a separate parent carer's needs assessment)
The assessment will look at how issues impact on the child and family. It will build on family strengths to help develop a plan with the family. The social care plan will explain the barriers the family is facing and the ways to overcome them.
Once a social work assessment has been started, it should be completed within 45 days of the referral being received by our children’s social care department.
How we support young people who don't meet eligibility criteria
We must still provide information and advice about where other support may be available. This is called ‘signposting’. Norfolk Community Directory includes information about many organisations who provide care and support.
*Disabled - the child must meet the Children's Act 1989 and the Equality Act 2010 definition of disabled, which is a physical or mental impairment. The impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
**A ‘child in need’ is a child who needs additional support from the local authority, to meet their potential (Children's Act 1989, Section 17). It places a duty on local authorities to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need’.
Local authorities are required to investigate the child’s circumstances where they have ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’. They are to ‘take any action to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare’ (Children's Act 1989, Section 47).