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Social Care and Early Help

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

Suffolk County Council has a duty to assess the needs of children and young people with disabilities and to offer support services to minimise the effects of disabled children’s disabilities and provide them the opportunity to lead lives which are ‘as normal as possible’. 

Families in Suffolk may be supported by different teams within Suffolk County Council’s services for children and young people.

The Early Help Service is made up of teams of practitioners who work with families who have unmet needs which aren’t being met by other support.

If you have a question regarding the support available or would like to provide feedback, please complete our feedback form on the right-hand side of the page or, email

Early Help Service – how do I access support and what’s available?

The Early Help Service offers a wide range of support, the focus of the service is to work with families in ways that help you to manage and identify your own solutions. This support is available for parents and their children 0-19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs).

This may include:

  • Health and children centres providing groups you and your child can attend, information and advice as well as health visiting services for families with children from pre-birth to 5. Visit your local centre.
  • One to one parenting support according to the needs of your family accessed via CAF.
  • One to one support to improve child’s confidence and wellbeing accessed via CAF.
  • Support to encourage school attendance –  Education Welfare Officer accessed via school
    *(academies may choose to provide their own services for school attendance).
  • Support for young people in year 10 – 13 who are at risk of, or not in education, employment or training accessed via school, college or a provider. You can also contact your area team.
  • Parenting groups, eg Triple P, Solihull, Strengthening Families visit the Parent Hub on the Suffolk County Council website for more information.
  • School nursing service 1:1 Health advice for children and families (5-19), confidential text chat service for young people.
  • Specialist school nursing service 1-1 health advice for some children with additional needs and their families aged 3 – 19.
    East Coast Community Health Care provides health visiting and school nursing services for Lowestoft and Waveney

If you or those who work with your family feel your child needs extra help because they have some unmet needs, you can choose to begin a common assessment framework, often referred to as a CAF, visit the Suffolk County Council website for more information. A CAF may be useful if your child is experiencing a range of difficulties; these might be around their emotional wellbeing or around their behaviour in the home or the local community. Most often it is when there is a combination of difficulties. Usually, if the only difficulty you and your child are experiencing is around your child’s behaviour at school, a CAF is not appropriate. Occasionally a CAF is completed when an early help service is not required. In this situation, we will still provide advice and guidance to make sure you get the support you need. 

Request for support from Social Care

There are four levels of need within Suffolk’s threshold criteria ‘Meeting the Needs threshold guidance’.

At each level there are different types of assessments as well as different types of services or activities to help you and your family:

1. Universal

When a child or young person is achieving expected outcomes.

Their needs are met within universal service provision without any additional support.

2. Early intervention

When a child or young person is vulnerable and is starting to divert from expected outcomes.

They will require additional support for a limited time period. Referral via a CAF.

3. Targeted

When a child or young person is vulnerable, with multiple and complex needs.

They aren't achieving the expected outcomes, and require more intensive but time limited support. (This includes the Child in Need threshold). Referral via a MAR

4. Specialist

When a child or young person is vulnerable with acute or highly complex needs.

They require intensive help and support from a limited range of specialist/statutory services, including children's social care. Referral via a MAR.

Whether or not you receive social care support depends on many factors and what level of need your child is assessed. Children have varying needs that change over time and this should be taken into account at the time of each referral.

You may find other agencies already involved with your family such as the health visitor, GP or school staff may suggest a referral. If you hold parental responsibility, this referral can only be completed once you have agreed, unless your child or young person involved is considered at risk of harm.

You can find out more on the Suffolk County Council website.

Disabled Children and Young Peoples Services

The Disabled Children and Young Peoples Services team provide support and advice to disabled children and young people with complex needs requiring a higher level of specialist services. Following a social work assessment, services provided could include the offer of support at home with personal care, overnight breaks from caring either in the home or within a short break provision and the option of Direct Payments as a Personal Budget where appropriate and as part of an Education, Health and Care Plans.  

For further information on the threshold criteria for a service from the Disabled Children and Young Peoples Services please refer to our guidance document.

If your child has a disability and you think your child would benefit from support from a short break please contact Activities Unlimited.

If your child has a disability and you think your child would benefit from support from social care, please contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005.

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