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Social care and early help - Local Offer

Early Help Services

Early Help is the principle of providing the right support at the right time to tackle issues that emerge for children, young people and their families.

It is about providing effective help as soon as a problem or difficulty emerges. It can support families to maintain positive change throughout a child, a young person, or family’s life.

Providing help at an early stage is an effective way to promote the welfare of children. It can take place at any point in a child’s life - from the foundation years to young adulthood.

The Early Help Assessment (EHA) is a simple way to identify the needs of children and families. It also outlines a plan to meet those needs. The EHA aims to provide a coordinated response so that nobody misses out on the support they need. It is used by all agencies in Northamptonshire who deliver early help.

The EHA can be used to support children and young people aged 0 to 19 years. It can include unborn babies and can also be used (with consent) for people with learning disabilities up to the age of 24.


Social care support for disabled children and young people

Education, health, and leisure facilities are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of children and young people with disabilities.

However, some children with SEND and their families will need extra support from the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust. These social care services need a formal social care assessment.

Support that does not need a social care referral

Disabled Children’s Register

Families can join the Disabled Children’s Register, previously known as SNIX.

Registration helps the council plan services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Families who register their child will receive termly newsletters about SEND services, resources, training, early years, groups, clubs, and activities.

Register your child

Northamptonshire Carers

Northamptonshire Carers is a countywide charity based in Wellingborough. It offers support and advice for parents and carers of children with disabilities. It also provides a support network for young people who care for a sibling or parent. Families can contact the charity directly.

Northamptonshire Carers carries out Carers’ Assessments. It also supports families with referrals to NCT’s Disabled Children’s Team. These are made via the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Short Breaks

Families can access various non-residential short breaks. Activities can range from universal football clubs to targeted music groups.

Universal provisions (such as clubs, sports groups, and leisure facilities) don’t need referrals. However, some providers might recommend an assessment or a professional referral.

The local authority commissions external providers to offer targeted youth groups and holiday clubs. There are also numerous volunteer-run groups for children with disabilities.

Residential short breaks (such as specialist respite care from the NHS) may need a social care referral.

Families can apply for Personal Independent Payments (for over 18s) or Disability Living Allowance (for children). This money can be used to fund short breaks.

Details of short breaks can be found in the Local Offer directory.

Specialist support that needs a social care referral

The support services listed below for disabled children and young people are only available with a social care referral. A successful referral does not guarantee an individual will receive one of these specific services. However, the referral will ensure that the child receives the most appropriate provision that best meets their needs.

Specialist services (known as Tier Four) are available to individuals with additional needs beyond targeted services. Specialist services include:

  • home support
  • domiciliary care
  • direct payments
  • overnights
  • short break respite care
  • sessional support

These services are listed in the Local Offer directory. They usually need an assessment with NCT’s Disabled Children's Team.

Disabled Children's Team

The Disabled Children’s Team (DCT) is part of the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT). It’s a statutory service for the most vulnerable disabled children and young people in the county.

The DCT ensures those with substantial and long-term disabilities and complex health needs are given every opportunity to meet their full potential. It also aims to ensure they enjoy the best possible quality of life and are safeguarded from harm.

The Disabled Children’s Team provides a social model of disability that challenges and seeks to remove the barriers to children and young people with disabilities and thus enable all children and young people to have access and opportunities to reach their full potential.

Many children and young people will not meet the eligibility criteria for the Disabled Children’s Team. They may benefit from different Tier Four services or lower-tier services instead.

A referral to the Disabled Children’s Team is made through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The individual will be assessed as a Child in Need (as per the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970).

Adult Social Care

Adult social services are provided under the Care Act 2014. The Act places a legal duty on the local authority to carry out an assessment when a child is likely to have a need for care and support when they are 18.

In West Northamptonshire, adult social services will usually start this process in year 11, but there is no set age when young people reach the point of needing an assessment. Every young person and their family are different, and assessment should take place when it is the most appropriate time for them.

If the child is already supported by Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, their allocated worker will make the referral through an internal referral process.

There are adult Transition Workers who link in with SEND post 16 education provisions, who provide advice and guidance to parents, young people and teachers about how to make a referral if they are not already known to children’s services.

They also attend EHC reviews for young people where it has been identified as a potential benefit for them and their families, from year 11 upwards to provide advice and guidance.

Children’s services must continue to be provided until adult provision has started, or a decision is made that the young person’s needs do not meet the eligibility criteria for adult care and support.

Where young people aged 18 or over continue to have EHC plans under the Children and Families Act 2014, and they make the move to adult care and support, the care and support aspects of the EHC plan will be provided under the Care Act. The statutory care and support plan must form the basis of the ‘care’ element of the EHC plan.

Under the Care Act 2014, all young people going through the transition process are entitled to independent advocacy.

Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service (NYOS)

Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service (NYOS) is a multi-agency partnership between:

  • Northamptonshire Children’s Trust
  • North and West Northamptonshire Councils
  • Northamptonshire Police
  • Northampton Youth Bench (Magistrates)
  • Northamptonshire Health Foundation Trust
  • Public Health Northamptonshire (North and West)
  • Northamptonshire Probation
  • Partnerships with voluntary sector agencies

NYOS aims to reduce offending and re-offending by children and young people.

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Last updated 04 June 2024