Children First Project update October 2021

Group of Children on sofa smiling at the camera Published: 28th Oct 2021

The Children First project was set up by Birmingham Children’s Trust in November 2020. Read our latest project update below.

The Children First project was set up to review the current Disabled Children’s and Social Care Service (DCSC) and improve outcomes for disabled children and young people in Birmingham, empowering them to live an independent life, now and in the future. The project board includes Birmingham Children’s Trust, Parent Carers Forum, SEND, Health, Residential Services, and Early Help.

Changes to the DCSC service is required to ensure we are delivering the best service we can to disabled children and their families. This may cause concern for some families who will worry about how these changes will affect them. Our aim is to address issues that you have raised over the years and improve the service you receive.

What have we been doing?

Back in March, we held surveys and focus groups to gather your input into how we can improve the Disabled Children’s Services. We then carried out reviews based on the main themes that came from the consultation:

  1. Children and Family Support: Children in care assessments and plans, Transition planning from children to adult services
  2. Short Breaks: Children receiving short breaks  
  3. Accessing the Service: Service Criteria, Child protection and safeguarding
  4. Direct Payments: Allocation and management of direct payments, Residential and short breaks offer
  5. Staff skills and knowledge: Staff skills audit, Staff training program


What is the Outcome?

The DSCS team has been restructured with some teams being disbanded and new ones created.

Current DSCS team: Children and families who access our front door service and meet the criteria are referred into the DCSC Assessment and Short-Term Intervention Teams service (ASTI) for an assessment.

New DSCS team: The DCSC teams will move to a more local based service and families will be supported by either the North West & Central, East, or South team. The Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS) will remain the first point of contact for families seeking advice and support. This will increase the support available at the point of contact for disabled children and families.

Current DCSC team: Children in care are held in a separate Children in Care (CIC) team and Safeguarding issues are held within BCT Safeguarding teams

New DSCS team: A separate CIC team will no longer exist and children in care will be supported within the North West & Central, East, or South team. Safeguarding concerns will also be dealt with in these teams rather than being referred to a separate team. This means you will have the same social worker throughout your involvement with BCT, offering a more seamless service.

Current DCSC team: Our Family Support Workers work in the Family Support & Short Breaks (FS&SB) team and offer individual and holistic support for families to access support services and organise short breaks.

New DCSC team: The FS&SB team will be replaced by two new specialist services – the Early Help Support and Guidance team and Complex & Enduring team. Family Support Workers will be based in these teams and will offer different levels of support depending on need.

Current DCSC team: Family Support Workers offer generic support on a wide range of topics. As part of the Local Offer of universal support, Early Help family support teams are locally based.

New DCSC team:  The Early Help Support and Guidance team is a new specialist team and will have multiple areas of focus. Family Support Workers will monitor short breaks and direct payments to ensure the right package is in place and families have the support they are entitled to. This will be monitored by Independent Review Officers who will regularly review Short Break and Direct Payments offers to ensure they are working for families. Education & Health Care plan (EHCP) is something that families can find difficult to put into place for their child. Our Advice and Guidance officers will contribute to the EHCP with respect to Social Care advice and will be able to direct parents to additional help and support through the Local Offer.

Current DCSC team: DCSC is unable to support children with complex and enduring mental health needs and currently refer them to health professionals and other appropriate services.

New DCSC team: The Complex & Enduring team will provide support for children and young people with complex and enduring mental health issues who have been or are likely to be admitted to a Tier 4 bed and will include those with a s117 entitlement to aftercare. Other young people will be considered where there is a complex and enduring mental health issue that requires support within the home.


What is the Outcome?

Will I still be able to access Direct Payments and Short Breaks? 

For the time being, Direct Payments and Short Breaks can be accessed in the same way. We will let you know if there are any changes to this process in the future.

Will I continue to have the same family support worker? 

The way we allocate family support workers to children and families will be changing in the new service. For now, you will have the same allocated family support worker. If you have any queries about this please contact your family support worker or e-mail any questions to

Will I continue to have the same social worker?

Yes, there are no plans to change the way social workers are allocated to children and families in the new service.

How do I arrange an Education and Social Care plan (EHCP) for my child?

EHCP’s are put in place by SENAR who can be contacted at / 0121 303 5004 (8:45am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).


What will happen to our current staff?

We envisage that some existing staff will transfer into roles within the new model and recruitment will take place for any vacant posts. Existing workers will keep supporting the children they currently support, maintaining consistency of service for families as well as ensure we maintain the expertise and professionalism of our current staff. 
Roles that have already been recruited into are:

  • DCSC Assistant Director and Designated Social Care officer: Alison Montgomery
  • DCSC Head of Service: Claire Owen
  • DCSC East Team manager: Cassie Allen
  • DCSC North West & Central Team manager:  Sangeeta Kaura
  • DCSC South Team manager: Kalwant Dhugga
  • DCSC Short Breaks manager: Marc Cage

How can families access the DCSC service?

As currently happens, the first point of contact for children and families and other professionals is to contact our Children’s Advice and Support Service (CASS) service. If a child fits the criteria for a referral to the DCSC, a referral will automatically be made. If you would like to make a referral contact us on

Monday to Thursday: 8:45am to 5:15pm

Friday: 8:45am to 4:15pm

Phone: 0121 303 1888

Emergency out-of-hours:

Phone: 0121 675 4806


Where can I access service policies, procedures, criteria and other documents?

Work is currently underway on creating policies, procedures, criteria, and all other templates / documents required for the new service. Once completed, they will be uploaded onto the Birmingham Children’s Trust website and shared with families and partners.

For information on DCSC current policies and procedures please visit Disabled Children's Social Care


What is the next step?

The new service is due to launch by November 2021. We will be providing regular updates about our progress and sending this to you on Birmingham Children’s Trust and our partners social media and websites.  Please send any queries to We will compile all queries and answers into an FAQ and publish it on our website.