Social care support for children and families

Children's social care support can provide help to children and their parents if the child:

  • needs support with maintaining their health or development
  • has a disability
  • is in need of protection
  • is fostered, adopted or lives in residential care

A social care professional can provide practical advice and information to help the family. They might: 

  • do an assessment of your child’s and family’s needs
  • provide immediate help 
  • give you information about other support organisations that could help
  • involve other professionals when assessing the help your child or you may need

How to ask for support

Call 0300 123 6720 or out of hours 0300 123 6722.

Your child's health visitor, doctor or school staff may also suggest a referral or may refer to social care, with your permission.

The team will ask you about the difficulty you're having and how it's affecting your child and family. They'll offer immediate advice about which services might be able to help you.

In some cases, a social care worker needs to support you and other times they'll do an assessment so that we can look at what your child and family needs.

If your child has special educational needs or a disability (SEND)

Disabled children are considered 'children in need' under the Children Act 1989.  If your child has a disability you are entitled to an assessment of need by children's services.  Your child's social care needs will be considered as part of a education, health and care needs assessment by the Inclusion Service and you may wish to ask for a social care assessment of your child's needs as part of this.

An assessment of your child should take into account your needs as a parent carer as well as the needs of your whole family.  However parent carers of disabled children also have a right to ask for a parent carer needs assessment which focuses on your needs as a parent carer.

More information about assessments of disabled children and their families is available on the SEND local offer or the website, Contact - the charity for families with disabled children.

Assessment and support

An assessment is a way of finding out about you and your family and to identify the support that you may need.

A social worker will complete an assessment. The assessment involves collecting information about your child and family.  We may ask other professionals who know you and your child well, for information about your child and family. This may include:

  • teachers
  • doctors 
  • health visitors

After an assessment

The assessment needs to be carried out within 45 days from the point of referral.

The social worker will, with your help, agree a plan of action. This may be:

  • providing some advice 
  • recommending other services
  • agreeing a plan of support 

The child in need plan

The social worker will arrange a family meeting, which includes you, your child and any other professionals that need to be involved. Everyone involved with your family agrees a Child in Need plan, which gives details of:

  • what services will be provided
  • how long the services are needed
  • what we hope to achieve by providing the services
  • the date the plan will be reviewed

Early help

If needs can be met through providing support without a social worker involved then early help will be offered. This may be through the Children and Family Wellbeing Service, a school or other local organisation.

Family group conference

A social worker may refer a family for a family group conference - a meeting of family members, and sometimes family friends, to make a plan or a decision to resolve issues that affect a child or young person.

Family safeguarding

Our family safeguarding teams can provide support when a more formal plan of support is required. Our family safeguarding social workers will provide ongoing support and advice to families they work with.

Initial child protection conferences

When professionals have concerns about a child's safety an initial child protection conference (ICPC) is held to discuss how to ensure that children are kept safe.  An ICPC is a meeting where parents, carers, children and professionals who have worked with the family discuss the concerns and needs of the family.  The meeting will decide what type of plan the family needs, that is, a child in need plan or a child protection plan.   You can watch a series of videos that show you what happens, before, during and after an initial child protection conference.