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Children’s Social Services

Children's Social Services British Sign Language (BSL) translation

Who provides social services?

Social services are provided by your local council or in Northern Ireland by your health and social care trust. They can have slightly different names across the UK, e.g. children’s social care, social work teams. Here we are going to call them children’s social services.

What do they do?

Children’s social services have a duty to support children who are deaf, disabled or vulnerable. They provide a range of services so that these children can live with their families and have the same opportunities as others.

They also have a duty to keep all children safe and take action to prevent them being harmed or at risk of being harmed. They have similar duties to support and protect disabled and vulnerable adults.

Some of the support that children’s social services may provide, include:

  • enabling a child to attend a playscheme or social activity,
  • supporting parents and carers to have short breaks from their caring role (potentially to allow them time to undertake education, training or a leisure activity)
  • providing equipment in the home to support a child to stay safe or be included in daily family life
  • supporting children and young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Some services to support to deaf children and families do not need to be provided through children’s social services. Details of services that you may be able to access should be available on your council website. You can find more information about your rights to support from your local council.

Your local deaf children’s society is good place to get information on local services. Find your local deaf children’s group

Assessment of your child or family’s needs

Any services provided by children’s social services will require an initial assessment to be completed. As a parent of a deaf child, you can ask for an assessment of the needs of both you and your child.

This will normally be done by a social worker who may work in a specialist disabled children’s social work team. You will be asked questions about the help you need and, depending on their age, your child may also be involved. Following an assessment a decision will be made as to whether your child or you family have any ‘eligible needs’. This means the council must provide support to help with these needs.

If you have any questions about accessing support from children’s social services or need help asking for an assessment, you can contact our Helpline.

Meet a specialist social worker for deaf children and families

Specialist social worker

There are only a few specialist social workers focused on deaf children and their families across the UK.

We ask Jo, a specialist social worker, how her role helps deaf children and their families and how she works with parents and other professionals to make sure children’s needs are being met and to encourage personal growth.

Useful information


Children’s social services sometimes provide technology devices and equipment useful for deaf children. Your local authority may have a specialist team that carries out equipment assessments; discuss this with them.

For more information check out our guide on how technology can help deaf children or contact our Helpline.

Support for carers


All Local Authorities must provide a range of services to give breaks to carers of disabled children and to allow them to do so more effectively. They must publish a ‘short breaks statement’ of services on their website with the criteria by which eligibility for services will be assessed.


From 31st December 2018, all local authorities must have published a local ‘Short Break Service Statement’ which sets out how carers can access short breaks, and what options are available. 

Find the statement that applies to your area


The Breaks for Carers of Disabled children 2012 was removed (repealed) following the new Social Service and Well-Being Wales Act 2014. Carers of Disabled children are recognised as having needs within the Act.

Northern Ireland

The Carers and Direct Payments Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 places a duty on Health and Social Care Trusts to inform carers of their legal right to a care assessment, gives carers the right to an assessment of their own and to be considered for services to meet their own need.