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Social care

Most children and young people with special needs and/or disabilities will use the services that are there for everyone in the community, for example children's centres, leisure centres, doctors, etc. These are known as Universal Services.

A small number of children and young people, whose circumstances are complex and who may not be able to live at home without special support, will require assessment by the social care teams. Where children and young people are assessed as needing social care services, families may choose to have a direct payment to arrange their own support.

Families may be referred by a professional or refer themselves through the integrated children's services telephone service 0300 456 0108 which includes all referrals for SEND. 

They will be asked to provide basic information on the telephone including:

  • Name and address
  • The people who are living in the house
  • The nature of the child or young person's needs
  • Any diagnosis the child has 
  • Other support services they are receiving
  • Whether the child has a MyPlan or Early Help CAF**
  • Support networks available to the child

**For more information about Early Help CAF


Social worker responsibilities include safeguarding, looked after children and those with complex needs where a risk to wellbeing exists. When working with young people with SEND, a social worker’s role is primarily to make sure that child or young person can remain with their families with minimum intervention. It also involves overseeing the support they receive and working with them to build independence and resilience.

Where our family support panel decide to provide a Wiltshire Council service, a social worker will remain involved. They will review the package of support every 6 months to make sure it is meeting the child or young person’s needs and achieving the outcomes the family are looking for.

When a service is no longer needed the social worker’s involvement will end. At this point our team will make sure a family has access to the universal and targeted sources of support that they need.

Will social workers use My Plans?

Social workers need to work across lots of areas of need and co-ordinate their support with multiple agencies. This means they have specific forms of assessment that need to be followed. They will still pay close attention to the kind of information in a My Plan. At the moment social workers will be most likely to use a My Plan to support a young person during transition.


If families are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Short Breaks payment, we will ask how this is being used to support the child, as well as what use is being made of community or targeted services. If it is determined that a child has an outstanding need that cannot be met by universal or targeted services, or by what other members of the family or community are able to do to provide support, then a qualified social worker will be assigned to carry out a Single assessment. Ideally this will take place within 5 working days.


The social worker will visit the child at home and talk to them about their life. This is to help us build a fuller picture of the child's needs and how they are being managed. The social worker will then talk to any other professionals already involved in supporting the child, so we can co-ordinate any support with them.


After the Single assessment, a decision is made about whether a child meets our criteria:

  • A child or young person and their family whose main need for services arises out of the young person's disabilities or intrinsic condition
  • These conditions have a substantial or critical impact on the quality of the child or young person's life and/or their family
  • Their needs cannot be met by universal or targeted services alone.

A family may be directed to more appropriate services or, if necessary, they will be assigned a social worker. The social worker will work with them to develop a plan on how to meet the child or young person's needs. This is called a Child in Need Plan. If a child has a MyPlan, this information will be used to inform the Child in Need Plan. How these two plans work together will depend on individual circumstances and how a child's needs are prioritised. If a child has a SEND Lead Worker, their social worker will work closely with them to support the child. The social worker will also capture a carer's needs alongside the child's assessment.

If the social worker decides the child or young person needs a service provided by Wiltshire Council, they will make a referral to the Family Support Panel. This panel meets fortnightly and considers all recommendations for disabled children across the county. A direct payment could be offered at this stage. The social worker will set up the support agreed and will make sure that the family remain informed.


If a child or young person meets our assessment criteria, a package of support may be offered through partner agencies or as a direct payment, including:

  • Support at home (personal care, getting up and ready for the day, support during a time of crisis)
  • Personal care (for individuals with substantial moving and handling needs)
  • Day care (through Family Link Care, nursery care or child minders)
  • Overnight care (through Family Link or Canon's House)

This service supports children and young people with a disability/multiple disabilities. They provide assessment for specialist services and overnight short breaks. For more information, call the Children and Young People Disability team on 0300 456 0108.


A direct payment is a way of paying for a personal budget. A personal budget is the amount that their support plan comes to. This option is available for children and young people with a disability who have an assessed need. How this is used is up to the child or young person and their families. Full information on using direct payment.

Some families do not wish to receive a direct payment. In these circumstances a direct service may be something families wish to explore further. A direct service is where the council pays an agency directly to provide support in line with assessed need. A completed support plan is sent to all accredited providers within Wiltshire and they will tender for agreement to provide the support.


The Community Connecting team will assist you to find our more about support available in your local community. Full information on Community Connecting.


If a family we are working with moves out of Wiltshire, we can refer them directly to their new authority and share the results of the assessment and plan developed in Wiltshire.

When a family moves into Wiltshire, we will generally request information from their previous authority and this will be used to inform our own assessment, once the family has arrived in Wiltshire. If we have enough notice, our team are able to plan for their support before they arrive.


Quick Links

If you think a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, or is injured, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub - MASH on 0300 456 0108. If there is immediate danger, phone the police or emergency services on 999.


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Last updated: 4 December 2018 | Last reviewed: 4 December 2018