What is social care?

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 children.

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What is social care?

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 Health and Social Care Services in Scotland and the Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland.

What services can I expect for my child and family?

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.

You can find out more about services by speaking to your local authority. If you’re not sure with local authority you come under, type your postcode into the search bar at www.gov.uk/find-local-council

Families in England can find out about services on your local authority’s website as part of their ‘local offer’ (which you can search for).

How do I get social care services?

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 services.

You might also be eligible for services to help you as a carer. To work out what your needs are, the local authority will carry out a carer’s assessment.

Paying for services

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 (DLA) 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 yours.

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.

Making a complaint about services

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 services.