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Black boy with drumstick at Riverside

This section summarises the general entitlements of children with disabilities. Three sections in Level D – Assessments, Provision of services and Looked after children – consider them in more detail.


The slides in this section focus on understanding rights, duties and procedures and their interrelationships. One of the challenges to understanding special needs is to unscramble how these aspects interplay. Here, we consider rights.


In the US constitution, some rights are defined as 'inalienable' and are said to be enduring. No matter what happens, they cannot be retracted. In everyday life though, such outcomes are less certain – since one person's rights (or freedoms) may diminish another person's rights (or freedoms). And it is these very rights that are defined by law as entitlements.

What happens to children with disabilities?
Staff moving pupil on mat

Children with disabilities are entitled to the following children's services under the Children Act 1989:

  • An initial assessment.
  • A core assessment (if in need of support from more than one agency).
  • A care plan.
  • Services to meet their assessed needs.
  • Suitable accommodation where required.
  • A personal adviser and pathway plan after the age of 16 if they are 'leaving care'.
Who is responsible for these children?
Teacher playing guitar to boy in wheelchair

Under NHS legislation, children with disabilities are entitled to the following:

  • An assessment of their healthcare needs.
  • Services to meet such needs once they have been identified.
  • NHS continuing care.
  • Age-appropriate child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
  • Palliative care.

The local authority children's services, health services and other public agencies are required by the Children Act 2004 (section 11) to ensure that all their functions and actions safeguard and promote the welfare of children.


Any agency that opts not to provide services to an individual disabled child, or to set general eligibility criteria for such services, must be able to show how their decision complies with this duty.