Children and young people aged 0 to 25 with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) are supported by social services in Medway in the short and long term.

Social care services may be needed if a child or young person:

  • needs specialist provision to meet their needs following an assessment
  • is experiencing abuse or neglect or is at risk of significant harm and needs social work assessment or support.
More about:

Short break services

Some providers offer an enhanced universal offer for children and families with additional needs. Find more information about services and support available.

Some families with children and young people with SEND are likely to need additional targeted or specialist short breaks and services. You'll need an assessment which will address:

  • your child or young person's needs
  • your needs as a carer
  • the needs of your family.

Targeted and specialist short breaks (respite) provide some children and young people with SEND an opportunity to spend time away from their parents or carers, relaxing with friends and having fun.

They also give families a 'break' from their caring responsibilities to unwind, rest or spend time with other children. Examples of short breaks could include holiday play schemes or home sitting.

Targeted and specialist short break services

Some families with children and young people with SEND are likely to need additional targeted and specialist short breaks and services. For these you will need an assessment, which will address your child or young person’s needs as well as your needs as a carer and those of your family.

Download our short break self-assessment referral form and send to

More information about short breaks services in Medway can be found in our short breaks services statement.

For general enquiries on short breaks phone 01634 331 351 or email

Find short break providers in Medway.

0 to 25 disability service

The 0 to 25 disability team provide specialist services and support to children and young people under the age of 25 and their families.

These services include social work support, resources in the local community, support packages including care, and short breaks tailored to meet the individual’s needs.

The service is for children and young people living in Medway who have a formal diagnosis of a substantial and long-term disability:

  • substantial disabilities are severe or profound disabilities which means the child or young person needs significant support from another person or is reliant on equipment to carry out basic day-to-day functions
  • long-term disabilities are existing disabilities which are not expected to improve over a long period, 12 months or longer.

They complete holistic assessments and consider what support may be needed.

Referrals can be made by parents and carers or professionals (with parental consent) or the young person themselves. These are considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the child or young person’s needs, family circumstances and any other relevant information.

To make referral to the service call 01634 334 466. You can contact the 0 to 25 disability team for further information and advice on 01634 338 500 or email

Early help

Early help supports families with or without children and young people with SEND early on to resolve any challenges you and your family may be facing before they become too difficult to manage. This could be issues to do with education, health, work, domestic violence, housing, relationships, finance, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Early help helplines

The early help helplines are there to offer advice and support whether you are a professional, a parent or a young person needing early help.

You can contact the helplines Monday to Thursday from 8am to 5pm or on Fridays from 8am to 4.30pm.

The helplines are closed during weekends.

  • Chatham All Saints Children and Family Hub: 01634 338 833
  • Gillingham Children and Family Hub: 01634 338 877
  • Strood Children and Family Hub: 01634 335 533
  • Wayfield Children and Family Hub: 01634 337 733
  • Email:

More about early help for families


Safeguarding is about protecting all children and young people from harm, abuse or neglect.

If you are worried about a child or young person you can report safeguarding concerns to the Children's Advice and Duty Service on 01634 334 466.

Medway Safeguarding Children Board provides information, advice and guidance for children and young people, parents and carers, practitioners and volunteers. This guidance is to promote and ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in Medway.

Download our Safeguarding children: Child protection guidelines.

Find out more from the Medway Safeguarding Children's Board.

Adoption and fostering

Adoption gives a child in care a chance to permanently become part of a new family that offers them a stable and loving home.

Fostering is providing short or long-term support, stability, and care in a safe, loving environment. Being a foster carer can make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it.

Looked after children

We help families care for their children at home. If families cannot do this we try to find family or friends who can. Or if this is not possible, find the best possible placement.

Find out more about looked after children.

The Local Offer for care leavers helps young people leaving care to find the services and support Medway offers. These services can help young people manage the journey into early adulthood and independent living.

Direct payments

A direct payment is a sum of money paid to a family instead of a provided service. Families have to be referred for a direct payment by their social worker following a social care assessment.

With a direct payment a family has more freedom and choice to access a specific service for their child or young person.

The Self Directed Support Team (SDS) helps families of children and young people with SEND to arrange their own support through a direct payment.

If you need some extra support managing your budget, or just have some questions, please phone 01634 331 351 or email

Employing a personal assistant through direct payments

With direct payments you can choose to employ your own personal assistants (PA). This option gives you maximum choice and control. As the employer you'll be in control of when and how your PA works.

As an employer you will have a contract of employment between yourself and the PA, outlining the terms of the employment such as contracted hours and when you require them to work. The PA will be entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave per year including bank holidays. You will be required to register with the HMRC or an agent can do this on your behalf.

The Self Directed Support Team will support you to ensure you have everything in place. This includes payroll, insurance and access to advice.

Alternatively, you may choose to use a self-employed PA. Choosing this options still gives you choice and control but you would not be responsible for paying holiday pay or needing to register with the HMRC.

You will need to sign an agreement produced by the PA which should state how much they are charging, support times agreed and any notice periods you need to give to cancel support.

The Self Directed Support Team will support you to ensure that you are happy with the terms of your agreement.

Call the Self Directed Support Team on 01634 331 351 or email to discuss.

Occupational therapy: Adaptions and equipment

Occupational therapists help children and young people with SEND who could benefit from some equipment or adaptations if they are struggling to get around the house.

Before adapting your home an occupational therapist will assess you at home and work to find the best way for your child or young person to support their independence.

You can contact the 0 to 25 disability team for further information and advice on 01634 338 500 or email

Supported housing

Supported housing can help young people with SEND who struggle living alone but do not need full-time residential care. This lets them live in a small area of housing which is managed by care staff that will be around to help.

Supported housing is made up of suitable or adapted accommodation, with personal care to meet independent needs.

For more information or for an application for supported housing please email

Supported living

Supported Living can be available for young people with SEND aged 18 and over.

This could be an option for young people who are living residential colleges or who are unable to remain living with their family and need support to live within their community.

To access supported living, you'll need a needs assessment. For more information call 01634 334 466.

Support for carers

Support for carers is available if you give regular care to a family member with SEND and your physical or mental health is deteriorating or is at risk of deteriorating.

Find out more about support for carers.

Carers can request a carer’s assessment to find out if they can get support.

There are other organisations to help:

Visual and hearing impairment

Visual and hearing impairment support is available from many organisations across Medway.

More about visual and hearing impairment

Transition to adult social care

Young people aged 18 to 24 will continue to be supported by the 0 to 25 Disability Team.

There will be a co-ordinated transfer to Adult Social Services to ensure a successful transition and ongoing support once a young person reaches the age of 25.

View social care.