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How do I obtain respite services for my children?

If you have a family member with challenging behaviour or healthcare needs this can present many problems in the family home. Parents often come to me exhausted and frustrated about the lack of services being made available to them by Social Services for their disabled child. A disabled child’s needs impact on the whole family and the family’s ability to do things that most people consider a normal part of daily life, such as shopping or having special time with other children.

This is compounded by the fact that babysitters/professional Carer’s are hard to come by as they need a specialist skill set to help look after such children or family members.
Social Services may have already assessed a family but decided not to make any respite provision available. No matter how skilled or resilient a parent carer is, there are times when you struggle to balance the needs of everyone in the family with a disabled child or family member.
If you are feeling that you need respite care, to obtain this you will need to apply for an assessment from social services.

This article is the first in a series of three articles. In my final article I will link to a template letter that you can adapt and send off to help you apply for any assessment you believe you may be eligible for from social services.

You can apply for a family assessment, parent carer assessment, Child in Need Assessment or young carer assessment. In this article I will focus on obtaining a family assessment.
It is worth knowing that as parent you have a right to request a family assessment from Social Services. The referral does not have to be made by the school or a GP; you can issue this request to Social Services yourself.

The information you will need are the names and dates of birth of your family members. You will also need the name of the Director of children’s services for your local authority, or the person with responsibility for processing these requests. This can be found on the internet, or by contacting your Local Authority. You should attach any up to date or relevant reports to your request and if any of your children have an Education Health and Care Plan, send these also.
It is important to list the needs that your family members have and the extra help that you think they would need in the home. The extra help can be anything from shopping or cleaning to personal care or respite services. Different authorities work in different ways. Your local social workers will be able to give you further information about this.

Once your request is issued the LA should write to you agreeing or refusing to assess your family. If any of your children or family members have an Education Health and Care Plan and has an educational need that is under dispute with your Local Authority as well as their lack of social services support, you could have a right to submit what is called an “extended powers appeal” to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Although the Tribunal do not have the power to Order a Local Authority to provide respite and social services support to a child, they can issue an advisory Order and make recommendations to a Local Authority if they believe that this respite is needed. This will be particularly useful if there are safeguarding issues within the home.

We can support you if you wish us to help you request a social care assessment.
However, the blogs that follow this one, and template letter should allow you to be able to do this yourself if you would like to.

If your assessment request does not result in the services you require being made available to you and your family, feel free to contact us about how to appeal this decision.

My next blog will be on how to request a Child in Need Assessment.