For Families and Carers : Social Care Series for Children and Young People

Social Care Assessments for Children and Young People

Child in Need Assessments (Section 17 Assessments) – Children and Young People Under 18

Social Care Assessments for children under 18 are carried out under the Children’s Act 1989 and are known as Child in Need Assessments or Section 17 Assessments.

This assessment will look at the child’s and family’s needs and assess whether they are eligible for support from their local authority. To request a Child in Need Assessment contact Children’s Services in your local authority.

Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) – Children and Young People 0-25

If your son or daughter is under 25 and in education, you can also ask for a social care assessment as part of the overall assessment process for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or when the EHCP is reviewed.

For more information on EHCPs, including how social care fits in, see our Education Rights factsheets

Parent Carer’s Needs Assessments

Parent/Carers can also ask to be assessed for support for themselves as carer’s. To request a Parent Carer’s Needs Assessment (under the Children and Families Act 2014) contact Children’s Services in your local authority.

Transition to adult services

Child’s Needs Assessments (transition assessments) – Children and Young People 14-17

This assessment is different to a Child in Need Assessment. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘transition assessment’ and is generally carried out at 16 or 17. This assessment looks at the needs a Young Person is likely to have when they turn 18 and can help with planning ahead the support and services they might need as an adult.

In the past, the 18th birthday tended to be a time when young people fell into a gap between children’s and adults’ services. The law now provides for continuity in two different ways.

For young people over 18, children’s services now have a duty to continue to provide services to meet the needs identified in the Child in Need Assessment until either:

  • A review concludes that the young person no longer needs care and support, or
  • Adult services have completed a Needs Assessment (see: social care series)

In addition, parents who believe their child will have needs for care and support as an adult may request a Child’s Needs Assessment from the local authority

A Child’s Needs Assessment does not lead to support or services being offered whilst the young person is under 18, but it does ensure that they are known to the local authority and may help with planning ahead for adult support and services. Once the young person turns 18, the Local Authority may use this assessment to provide adult services or they may decide to complete a Needs Assessment. Both assessments use the same assessment criteria under the Care Act (2014).

To request a Child’s Needs Assessment contact your local authority and ask for a Child’s Needs Assessment under the Care Act (2014).

For more information about planning for adulthood and general transition information see here:

For further information and advice about assessments please call the DSA helpline on 0333 1212 300.

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