We work in partnership with children and young people, parents, carers and families to safeguard and promote their wellbeing. This includes:

  • safety
  • health
  • learning and development towards independence and adulthood

Find activities and early help for my disabled child

Families can access support, activities and events for children and young people with SEN or disabilities, without needing early help or social care. This includes short break activities.

Early help is the support that happens before social care is needed. You can find out about early help through our localities.

Register my child as disabled

Register with The Xchange and this will automatically register your child as disabled with Dorset Council.

Find out if you're eligible for short breaks

Short breaks are activities that support parents and carers to continue to be able to look after children and young people who are disabled. 

They also give children and young people with a disability or additional needs a chance to have fun trying new activities as well as a change of scene from being at home. 

Find out if you're eligible for short breaks.

Find out about direct payments

Direct payments help parents and carers provide care for their child or young person with a disability or additional needs.

Find out more about direct payments and how to get them

Carer's assessment

Find out about the children's carer's assessment and how it applies to you.

Get help with my child's challenging behaviour

You can ask a professional person for help if you need support to manage your child's behaviour, such as a:

  • teacher
  • health visitor
  • GP (doctor)

Early help

If you've already tried this, you can also get early help. This could be through a Children's Centre, a group or a course where you can talk to other parents and professionals. Find out about early help through our Family Partnership Zones.

Professionals who are part of the Family Partnership Zone may ask specialist services to support you if your child has complex needs. Specialist services can include:

  • NHS Children's Therapy
  • Child Development Team
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, including their Intellectual Disability teams
  • social care for children who are disabled

Get help for my child to live independently

Some children need specialist equipment to live independently in their homes, for example, to support their mobility and personal care. Occupational therapists can help with this. 

Needs assessment

Children who have multiple or complex disabling impairments may need more intensive support. We identify this support through a needs assessment. A family worker from the Children who are Disabled Support Team can go through an assessment with you, according to the Dorset Threshold Tool. We can provide a range of services If the assessment shows your child's needs are eligible.

These services can include specialist short breaks, including those through direct payments

If you need home aids, equipment or adaptations for children or young people who have physical or learning disabilities, an occupational therapist from Dorset Council (DC) will complete an assessment.

We provide these services under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 which we also talk about in your education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Family workers, occupational therapists and social workers work together across Dorset to provide the right level of support for families. 

Children's social care teams

Children's social care teams provide a statutory social work service to children in need and their families. Not every family with a disabled child needs a social worker. Social workers normally focus on children with multiple or complex needs who often live in difficult or challenging circumstances where they are at risk of harm, or pose a risk to themselves or others.

Social workers have legal child protection duties and work with looked after children (children in care) and their families, but they also work proactively to help prevent difficulties starting or repeating. 

All the children's social care teams work closely with other professionals and agencies, including early years education providers, schools and health services or other community-based professionals. 

Who to contact for support

Contact the Children's Advice and Duty Service if you need support or if you have concerns about a child:

Children's Advice and Duty Service (ChAD)

Name: Single point of contact for safeguarding concerns
Tel: 01305228866
Full contact details


Contact our safeguarding team if you feel a child is immediately at risk of harm.

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