Tags: A to Z of Special Needs

Social workers are employed by the social services department of the local authority. They have responsibility for child protection issues, children in need and looked after children.

Social workers are responsible for maintaining a register of children considered to be at risk.

There are eight categories in which children in need may meet the criteria.

  1. Abuse or neglect.
  2. Significant disability or intrinsic condition. Most of these will be children with medically diagnosed conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism or Down syndrome. In these cases, there will be a greater need for support than is available through the main carers.
  3. Parental illness or disability.
    4 Family in acute stress. This includes families who normally function adequately but whose daily life has been disrupted by circumstances such as unemployment, homelessness or a death in the family.

    5 Family dysfunction. In this case parenting is always inadequate.

    6 Socially unacceptable behaviour. These are children who have a detrimental effect on the community.
    7 Low income. These families will have an income below the standard state entitlement, but are not those families who are unable to manage on the entitlement.
    8 Absent parent. This includes children whose parents have died, or are in prison.

Looked after children are those who are subject to a care order. These children may be living with their families with social work support or living in foster placements or in residential provision.

There are a variety of reasons for children being looked after, including

  • risk of harm and the need to be moved to a
    safer place
  • a parent being unable to continue caring for them
  • a parent being ill or needing to go into hospital with no other family available to care for the child.

Social services now need to ensure that every child and young person in public care has a personal education plan (PEP). The plan ensures access to services and support, contributes to stability, minimises disruption and broken schooling, signals particular and special needs, establishes clear goals and acts as a record of progress and achievement.

When a child enters public care their social worker should inform both the school and the lo. The social worker is responsible for initiating the personal education plan. This should be done in partnership with the child, the designated teacher, the parent or relevant family member, the carer and any other person who may have relevant involvement with the child. This may be a health professional or an educational psychologist if there are assessments taking place in either of these areas.

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