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Social Care and Early Help Services

Disabled children and young people have the same rights as other children and we want to make sure that we offer the correct support to ensure they have the same opportunities as other children.

Families in Suffolk may be supported by different teams within Suffolk County Council’s services for children and young people. To find out more about what support is available, please click the drop down menus below:

The Early Help Service

Early Help is support that improve a family’s resilience and outcomes or reduce the chance of a problem getting worse. This can include support available to families from universal services like schools, community health teams, family hubs and local voluntary and community services, through to targeted services such as Social Care and Youth Justice.

Suffolk County Council’s Early Help Service includes:


  • An Early Help Team who work with children, young people and their families to enable positive change which can be sustained, maintains safety, and builds resilience in the whole family.
  • A Parenting Team, who deliver parenting programmes and individual parental support across the county.
  • Young Person’s Workers and Young Person’s Coaches who work with young people aged in year 11 and 12 who are either not in employment, education or training or who are at risk of this and provide support around employment and training choices where possible. They are also able to young people with an EHCP, youth Justice plan and CIC through to the end of February of year 13.

  • The Suffolk Family Focus Attendance Service, who provide support to reduce any barriers to school attendance and reduce the need for enforcement action.


SCC Early Help teams can also signpost families to access support from other organisations for assessments and advice including benefits assessments, school support, counselling and more.

Accessing the Early Help Service:

Access to the Early Help Service is via something called a Common Assessment Framework or CAF. You can read more about this and begin the process here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/common-assessment-framework

Social Care

Not all children and young people are entitled to input from Social Care but there is support available to all children and young people who require it.

Children are simply those aged 18 or under. Sometimes children’s services will also support young people aged up to 25 as well, which overlaps with the age at which services from adult social care may be available.

Social Care is a term covering different types of support available from Suffolk County Council's Children and Young People's Directorate. This includes support that follows an assessment by a social worker, but also includes support identified through the common assessment framework (CAF) which may lead to Early Help support. Disabled children have an additional range of assessment types and support options available too.

Levels of Social Care Support 

There are four levels of support within Suffolk’s Social Care provision. Children and young people can move from one service to another as their needs alter and the support they receive may also change.

If your child has a disability and you think they would benefit from support from any of the social care support services listed below, please contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005.

1. Universal Support

All families can access Universal Services – these services can be accessed directly or via self-referral.  Universal Services include: Children’s Centres, GP’s, Health Centres, School Nursing, Education and funding for early education. Information about universal services can be found via the Suffolk Family Information Service – contact 0345 60 800 33

2. Early Intervention

Access to the Early Help Service in Suffolk is via the Common Assessment Framework – a shared assessment tool that aims to identify needs as soon as possible and bring together services to offer co-ordinated support, keeping the family at the heart of any decisions made. For more information, please see the Early Help dropdown below.

3. Targeted Support

Some children with SEND may be assessed as eligible for a service from the Children In Need Team, for example, a child who requires time-limited support from a Social Worker because they aren’t achieving their expected outcomes. 

4. Specialist Support

The Disabled Children and Young People’s Service (DCYP) is responsible for assessing the individual care needs of disabled children and young people.  The DCYP team provide support and advice to disabled children and young people with complex needs requiring a higher level of specialist services. This may include looking at needs relating to care in the home, assessment within the home environment, support for carers, personal budgets and transition support. 

Following a social work assessment, services provided could include:

There are criteria for DCYP input due to the capacity of the team. Appropriate referrals would include children with severe and permanent disabilities/learning difficulties and physical disabilities that significantly impact the child’s ability to access the community. 

To access the DCYP Service, a referral must be made via Customer First on 0808 800 4005 - this can be done by either a parent or a professional.  Once received, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) look at the referrals and make the decision whether to undertake a Social Work Assessment or signpost families to other support services such as Activities Unlimited or the Early Help Team (see above). 

(Please note: in line with the review of the Disabled Children and Young People’s Team, the pathways into specialist services are also being reviewed. In the interim anyone in need of support for a child / young person with a disability should contact Customer First as outlined above.)

Support and Advice

If you require further clarification or advice and information for a child / family you are working with please contact the DCYP duty Social Worker at Endeavour House (01473 265044), West Suffolk House (01284 758560) or Customer First (0808 800 4005).

Access to Sensory Social Care Support:

Children with sensory impairments can be referred to the Sensory and Communication Team via Customer first (0808 800 4005) either by a parent or a professional. See the referral pathway for Sensory Social Care.

Activities Unlimited / Short Breaks

Activities Unlimited also provide short breaks and leisure activities to children with SEND in Suffolk aged 0-25. If you would like to find out more, you can visit their website at Activities Unlimited or call 01473 260026.

Parent Carer Needs Assessments

A Parent Carer Needs Assessment (PCNA) is a chance for you to discuss with a practitioner your caring role and how it affects your wellbeing, your feelings and choices about caring, and what help and support may be available to you as a carer of a child/young person with additional needs and/or disabilities.

To find out more about PCNAs, click here: Parent Carer Needs Assessments

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