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A guide to Social Care Direct Payments

Direct Payments are cash payments (as opposed to directly provided services) that are paid to a young person, parent or carer up to the age of 18, or to a nominated third party. These payments must be used to meet outcomes identified in child and family assessment or Education, Health and Care Plan.

Direct Payments offer an alternative means of meeting assessed social care needs. They aim to empower children, young people and their families by increasing choice, independence and control over the way in which social care support is delivered. It is one way in which children, young people and families are able to direct their own support. It is the role of the Social Worker to assess the needs of the child alongside the parent and young person and, whilst the Local Authority is ultimately responsible for the allocation of the resources, they must make best endeavours to listen to the family and empower them to be creative in finding ways to achieve the outcomes identified in the assessment.

Who can access a Direct Payment?

Direct Payments are for children and young people who have been assessed by a social worker as having needs that cannot be met by their family or community/universal services. Direct Payments are NOT for young people whose needs can be met within their own family system or community. A provision of a service is not linked to a named disability but is personalised to the individual, in some circumstances children with very similar needs will require very different support packages and in some cases light touch will be sufficient.

What can you do with a Direct Payment?

Direct Payments offer families greater choice, flexibility and control over the management of your child’s assessed needs and can provide increased independence for young people, over the way services are delivered. This enables greater participation by children and young people in planning their support needs.

Direct Payments can be used to employ your own Personal Adviser, to provide care and support, instead of receiving assistance arranged by Essex County Council.

It is the parents and young person’s responsibility to ensure that the Direct Payment is spent only on the assessed needs identified as part of the Child and Family Assessment.

Although this list is not exhaustive Direct Payments can be used for the following:

  • Any eligible outcome identified within the Children and Family Single Assessment or Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Services to support independence
  • Provision of activities within the community
  • Personal care
  • Supporting families with behaviour plans
  • Additional support to access clubs and activities

Exclusions to Direct Payments

Whilst Direct Payments are intended to promote choice and independence, the Local Authority needs to ensure that the money is spent on provision and services that are legal, is in the child’s best interest and will safely meet the identified needs. To ensure this there are some restrictions in relation to how Direct Payments are spent.

Your social worker will be able to go through this with you in more detail.

What Direct Payments can be used for

There is no exhaustive list as to how Direct Payments can be used. The social worker, in discussion with the family or young person will decide based on the following:

The service, support or activity proposed should be:

  • Legal
  • Clearly linked to the OUTCOMES as identified in the Child and Family Assessment and/or Education, Health and Care Plan, so as to secure provision to meet the child or young persons assessed need
  • Affordable and proportionate to the assessed eligible needs of the child or young person.

Ultimately, the funds must be used to meet the needs and outcomes identified.

To decide what level of Direct Payment your child or the young person will receive, your social worker will meet with you and the Child & Family assessment will be shared and a tool called the Direct Payment Decision Making Tool (DPDMT) will be used to identify the cost and number of hours allocated through the direct payment.

As Direct Payments are outcome focussed and therefore families need to understand that these needs can and will change in line with the changing needs of the child and the family.

Direct Payments are available to all children and young people, aged between 0-18 years old who live in Essex and meet the eligibility for a Children with Disabilities Service. Direct Payments are also available to young adults through Adult Operations. Direct Payments are not available to those families who are receiving a Community based short break provision/ Individual Support package (formerly Short breaks/ Light Touch).