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Some disabled children and their parents will need practical
support both inside the home and outside it. Local authorities have
a legal responsibility to help families with disabled
Social care is a term that generally describes
all forms of personal care and other practical assistance for
children, young people and adults who need extra support.
Note that where we refer to the local authority social
services department, this also includes the Social Work Department
in Scotland and the Health and Social Services Trust in Northern
Local authorities have a duty to provide
certain services to disabled children. The kind of services that
may be offered include:
Other services may be provided by the local
authority, such as advice and guidance, laundry services and
financial help in exceptional circumstances.
If you think you or your child needs any of
these services, then you should contact your local authority.
The main route involves undergoing an
assessment of your child and family's needs by children's
You can find out about services by speaking to your local
Families in England can find out about services on your local
authority's website as part of their 'local offer' (which you can
Our SENDirect service is a website
where families of children with disabilities or special educational
needs can search for and compare accessible support, activities and
Local authorities do have the
power to charge for services they provide under the Children Act
1989 and the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Local
authorities in Northern Ireland and Scotland also have powers to
charge under similar legislation.
Each local authority will have its
own charging policy and it is usually your income and savings as a
parent that are taken into account. Your child's Disability Living Allowance
shouldn't be taken into account, and you should not be asked to pay
more than you can afford.
When a child reaches 16 years of
age, it is their own ability to pay that is taken into account, not
If you get Working Tax Credit or
Child Tax Credit (paid at a rate above the family element) or
Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance,
you should not be charged for Children Act services. You should
also not be charged for advice, information and counselling
services, regardless of your financial situation.
The same charging rules apply to
services for carers of disabled children.
Parents and carers can make a complaint if their council has
refused to assess their child of if there are problems with the
services they are receiving. Find out more about making a complaint about
Read our parent guide
When your child has additional needs [PDF].