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Surrey Early Support Service for young children with disabilities

When a child has complex needs or multiple disabilities there may be a large number of people involved in providing services for them. From birth to five the Surrey Early Support Service brings together parents/carers, health, education, social care and the voluntary sector.

Who is it for?

The service is for families who need extra help to raise a young child with disabilities and special educational needs and anyone who works regularly with these children and their families.

They accept disabled children aged from 0 to 5 years who live in Surrey. Children are defined as disabled if they:

  • are experiencing significant developmental impairment or delays, in one or more of the areas of cognitive development, sensory or physical development, communication development, social, behavioural or emotional development, or
  • have a condition which has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay.

The criteria for referral is that you must have three specialist health professionals involved with your child. If you family already has a social worker you are unlikely to meet the eligibility criteria. The level of support you receive from the service will depend on how complex your child's needs are.

A child will no longer meet the Early Support Service's criteria if:

  • they attend a specialised setting. A child will remain on their caseload but it is the expectation that the school will take over the coordinator's role, or if in a mainstream setting a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) will take on this role
  • they turn five. The service will devise, in partnership with parents/carers, an exit strategy for the term leading up to when the child turns five
  • their parents no longer wish to use the service
  • they meet social care support thresholds
  • their needs change and they no longer meet the criteria
  • their family move out of Surrey.

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How do they help parents/carers?

The service help reduce the need for parents/carers to explain their situation more than once. They do this by making sure that parents/carers and voluntary agencies work together from the beginning.

A Family Service Plan resulting from a 'Team Around the Child' meeting may also be produced. This plan improves the coordination of services across the agencies, makes sure need is identified earlier, interventions happen sooner, and support is continuous, especially when the family have a named key worker. Parents say that they feel more confident and empowered when they are involved in the decision making process.

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How are children referred to Surrey Early Support Service?

Referrals can be made by any professionals working with the child and their family on an Early Help Assessment (Word). Please note that the Early Support team now operate a waiting list.

For professionals

Referrals must be made using an Early Help Assessment (Word) stating in the action plan that the family wishes to be referred to Early Support.

For parents

To make a referral, request that a professional working with your child/family completes an Early Help Assessment (Word).

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What happens after a referral?

A Surrey Early Support Service coordinator will assess your child and allocate your family a level of support based on your needs. The children with the most complex needs will be offered a Team around the Child (TAC) meeting, which will lead onto a Family Service Plan.

To create the plan, they will bring you, and all the professionals involved with your family together. Your family will be at the centre of this planning process. According to your family's level of need they can also arrange for you to have a key worker.

The Early support for children with additional and complex needs (YouTube) video featuring children, parents and professionals shows footage of a Team Around the Child (TAC) meeting and can help give you an idea of what to expect.

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What is a key worker?

A key worker is a link to all the other services. You can choose someone who is already working with your family. They can come from any agency, for example health, education or social care.

They can:

  • offer information and support
  • visit or call regularly, not just when there is a problem
  • listen to your views and make sure other professionals are aware of them
  • coordinate assessments where possible
  • make sure you get a Family Pack so your child's information is held in one place
  • monitor the working of the Family Service Plan and keep everyone informed of progress and any changes.

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How to contact the Early Support Service

For more information, you can email an Early Support Coordinator for the area the child lives in:

Families living in North West Surrey (Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Woking):

Families living in North East Surrey (Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell and Spelthorne):

Families living in South West Surrey (Guildford and Waverley):

Families living in South East Surrey (Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead and Tandridge):

Files available to download