Principles of Good Practice for Safeguarding Children with Disabilities


In August 2015, this chapter was significantly amended throughout and should be re-read in full.

1. Principles

There is legal requirement for professionals to cooperate. Social Workers have a duty to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, in line with the Children Act 2004, Working Together to Safeguard Children, and Walsall's Child Protection Procedures.

The child's welfare and safety are paramount. In the event of concerns about a child's safety, Walsall Council's child protection procedures must be followed and advice sought from the MASH team regarding thresholds for services and referral processes.

Children with a disability and their families have a right to be supported in a non-judgmental and non-stigmatizing way.

Disabled Children where there are safeguarding concerns; cases open to the Children with Disabilities Team

Where a safeguarding concern arises about a disabled child already open to the CWDT, the CWDT will undertake a Section 47 enquiry in line with the requirements of Working Together to Safeguard Children and the WSCP Child protection procedures (see Regional Child Protection Procedures, Children with Disabilities Procedure).

Disabled children where there are safeguarding concerns: new cases not open to Children with Disabilities Team.

Where a safeguarding concern arises about a disabled child who is not open to the CWDT the referral and WSCP1 will be made to the MASH.

2. Equality and Anti-Discriminatory Practice

Children's Specialist Services will work to promote equality and social inclusion for service users by tackling inequality and ensuring equal access to services, regardless of race, religion, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation. Equality should be integrated into all working practices and should be inclusive, welcoming, non-judgmental and empowering.

Unless it would put the child in more danger or compromise a Child Protection Enquiry, children's services staff should consult fully with parents regarding any concerns, providing a clear explanation of what is expected of them and what they can expect from services. Where possible, and as far as is consistent with the child's welfare, parents should be fully consulted on any action to be taken and given a full explanation of procedures. They should also be enabled to participate in assessment and planning for all services provided for themselves and their children.

Appendix 1: Eligibility for an Assessment by the Children with Disabilities Team

1.1 The Children with Disabilities Team offers a social work assessment and care planning service to children and young people aged 0-18 years who have a 'permanent and substantial' disability and who live with the Walsall Local Authority Area.
1.2 The majority of children in Walsall who require services will receive them through universal provision within their local community. The same should be true of any child with a disability. Only when it has been identified, via the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) that the impact of a permanent and substantial disability on the child's life is too great to be addressed by universal provision or targeted provision, should a referral for an assessment be made to the Children with Disabilities Team.

Walsall Council has decided to use the Equality Act 2010 definition of a disability. A child has a disability if:

  • They have a physical or mental impairment; and
  • The impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.

These words have the following meanings:

  • Substantial (that is, more than minor or trivial); and
  • Adverse; and long term (that is, it has lasted or is likely to last for at least a year or for the rest of the life of the person affected).
Physical or mental impairment includes sensory impairments.

Considering this definition we will use the following statement and criteria to decide which children are eligible, using the The Children with Disabilities Team Assessment of Need Matrix to ensure accurate and fair identification of need.

In order to achieve outcomes appropriate to their potential and as a result of their disability, the child requires total or substantial support, appropriate to their age, from another person, which is not available within the family network.

A child or young person is eligible for a service from the Children with Disabilities team if he or she has:

  • A profound or severe learning disability; those children who tend to need  significant support with most daily tasks;
  • A profound and multiple learning disability; the child has more than one disability with the most significant being a learning disability;
  • Severe physical disabilities;
  • Severe developmental delay in motor and / or cognitive functioning;
  • Autistic spectrum where this has a significant impact on the child;
  • Severe sensory impairment (registered blind / profoundly deaf);
  • Complex and severe health problems that arise from disability, that are life threatening, degenerative or organic  resulting in severe disability;
  • Mental illness only if this is within the context of a diagnosed disability.
It is expected that the child's disabilities will have been diagnosed by a Community Paediatrician or similar health professional.
1.5 Where the matrix assessment tool identifies that a child does not meet the criteria for a service from the Children with Disabilities team the threshold may be met for Early Help support or a service from the Vulnerable Children's Service.
1.6 The Children with Disabilities Team will offer advice and guidance to the Early Help Services and any other children's social work team where they are managing a case and there is a child with a disability in the family. Initial enquiries can be made to the Children with Disabilities duty officer. For more detailed support/advice the Team/Practice Manager from the relevant team should contact the Team/Practice Manager at the Children with Disabilities Team to discuss the advice and support required.