Social Care and Early Help

Parent/carers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities can request an assessment for support from children’s social care services.

If you would like to speak to a social care worker about an assessment of support needs, please contact the Access and Referral Hub on 0300 300 8585 or email cs.accessandreferral@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

The Access and Referral Hub will speak with you about the support needs of you and your child.  The Access and Referral Hub can offer support as

  • Information and advice
  • Community Early Help Assessment and support
  • Parent Carer Needs Assessment and support
  • Early Help Plus Assessment and support
  • Child and Family Assessment and support 

The Access and Referral Hub will talk with you about how best to support the needs of you and your family based on your individual circumstances

Note:  For children with a recognised disability, if a parent wishes, a child and family assessment carried out by a social worker will be progressed, irrespective of level of need.

Information and advice:

The social care access and referral hub worker may offer you advice and information and direct you to other services that you may find helpful. 

This could include signposting you to local services that may be of assistance to you and your family.  

Children’s Services Social Care Teams

Central Bedfordshire children’s social care uses a locality model of support for children and families.

The north locality provides social care support in the northern part of the Central Bedfordshire area including Sandy, Biggleswade, Flitwick and Ampthill and surrounding areas.

The south locality provides social care support in the southern part of the Central Bedfordshire including Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas.

The Access and Referral Hub covers both north and south localities and is located in Dunstable.

North and South Localities are both made up of the following social care teams:

  • Early Help
  • Family Support
  • Children with Disabilities
  • Children in Care and Care Experienced Adults (Care Leavers)

All of these teams support children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities. 

All of these teams work in partnership with education, health and community partners to ensure that the holistic needs of children and their families are supported. 

All of these teams ensure that children’s safeguarding, wellbeing and safety needs are met.

Children and young people supported by the Children with Disabilities teams will have a permanent and substantial physical and/or learning disability.

This includes:

  • physical disability
  • learning disability
  • profound multiple disabilities
  • disability associated with complex health problems
  • severe sensory disabilities

Please see our threshold criteria which gives clear information on who can access services at different levels of ability

Early Help Assessments

Early Help Assessment in the Community:

With your permission the access and referral hub social care worker may speak to your child’s school to recommend that they progress an Early Help in the Community Assessment to support you.

Early Help Plus

A Social Care Early Help Assessment is carried out with you by an Early Help Family Partner.   This is also known as Early Help Plus Social Care.

The Early Help Family Partner will ask to meet with you at your home and will talk with you about your family.  They will want to understand the needs of your children; and what support you have in place or what difficulties you may be facing as a family. 

Early Help Family Partners can offer support by

  • assisting you to find local support services tailored to the needs of you and your child,
  • assisting you to navigate complexities of accessing support through education services and health services
  • offering you parenting support and advice if needed
Parent Carer Needs Assessments

parent carer needs assessment (PCNA) assesses the needs of the parent or carer for a child with a recognised disability.

If after speaking to a social care worker, or after reading information, you wish to request a parent carer needs assessment and you care for a child with a recognised disability, then you do so by completing a Request a parent carer assessment form.

Child and Family Assessment

A Child and Family Assessment is carried out with you by a Social Worker.  The social worker will ask to meet with you at your home and will talk with you about your family.  They will want to understand the needs of your children and what support you have in place or what difficulties you may be facing as a family.  They will ask your permission to speak to other services that you or your family may be accessing such as education, health, probation, adult social care and support services.

Social workers can offer support by

  • assisting you to find local support services tailored to the needs of you and your child,
  • assisting you to navigate complexities of accessing support through education services and health services
  • offering you parenting support and advice if needed
Short Breaks

Some children and families may benefit from short breaks.

Short breaks provide opportunities for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities to spend time away from their families and have fun. This also provides families with a break from their caring responsibilities.

Social care can support you by helping you to find local activities and services that are tailored to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities.  We will do this by helping you to explore the Leisure and Things to do section of this website.

Some of these activities are free of charge and some come with charges associated.  Social care may be able to assist you with some funding to access these activities such as with the support of a direct payment or personal budget.  

Some children with higher levels of Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities may require additional support to access groups, to access the community and spend time away from their main carers.  Social care may be able to provide funding for a direct payment carer or an agency to support your child to spend time having fun away from their families. 

For children with the highest levels of Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities overnight stays may be available at one of our 2 residential care facilities – Kingfishers in the Dunstable area and Maythorn in the Biggleswade area.

If you would like to speak to a social care worker about local activities and services, or assessment for access to funded support, please contact the Access and Referral Hub on 0300 300 8585 or email cs.accessandreferral@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

Direct payments

What are Direct Payments?

Direct payments have been set up to give people with parental responsibility for a disabled child, the entitlement to receive money to pay for services themselves, instead of the Central Bedfordshire Council arranging them on their behalf.

What services can Direct Payments be used for?

  • Personal care in the child's own home
  • Sessional support for a child taking part in recreational, leisure, cultural or sporting activities
  • Family based short break care
  • Residential short break care
  • Holiday support.

For guidelines about each of the above services, please contact your social worker.

What services can't they be used for?

  • Services provided by the local council
  • Services that are the responsibility of other agencies, for example NHS trusts or schools
  • Long term residential care

What if my child's needs change?

Direct payments arrangements are reviewed every 6 months. A review could result in the arrangements continuing unchanged or being increased or decreased.

How can I access direct payments?

The needs of your child and your family will be assessed or reviewed in the usual way by a social worker, and the level of service to meet those needs will be determined.

Please contact your child's social worker if you would like to know more about accessing direct payments.

If your child does not have a social worker, contact the Access and Referral Hub on 0300 300 8585 for more information about an assessment.

Can I be refused a direct payment?

The local authority can refuse a direct payment if:

  • The service the parent wishes to purchase would not meet the child's needs
  • A parent refuses to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on a potential personal assistant or sessional support worker
  • A parent wishes to employ someone who does not have a satisfactory outcome to their DBS check
  • It does not appear that the parent is capable of managing the payments
Transitioning to Adult Social Care

Adult Social Care services respond to the needs of adults who have

  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Physical Disabilities

The people we support do have or are likely to have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014. This includes young people in transition (14 - 25) as well as adults aged over 18.

More information about the Young Adult and Independent Living Team (YAaIL)

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