On this page, you will find advice and guidance about the main types of financial support that are available to disabled children, young people and their families.
You can claim different benefits at different times in your life. The benefits you claim will be dependent on you and your family’s circumstances.
Money and funding can be difficult to understand because it is different for everyone.
This page offers information on different websites and services where you can find information, advice and support in relation to money and SEND. As well as useful guides such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) easy read guide, Mencap easy read guides on money and benefits – see the useful links section for more!
What can it be used for?
When applying, think about what would make a difference to you and your child. We consider grant requests in order of priority. If you would like to ask for more than one item, make sure you tell us what is the most important item first.
- Clothing, Family breaks, Computer equipment, Days out, Recreational activities, Appliances, Sensory toys, Games, consoles and books, Music, Outdoor play equipment, Travel insurance, Specialist toys, Garden improvements, Driving and Pets
You can apply to Family Fund if:
- You live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (Please note: If you are a family living in Wales, please visit our Wales application pages to apply.)
- You are the parent or carer of a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 0-17 who lives with you.
- You are currently living in the UK and done so for at least six months, or three months if your child is less than six months old. You are eligible to work and apply for public funds.
- Your child is not in Local Authority care.
- You have evidence of entitlement to any one of the following:
- Universal Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income Related Employment Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit.
- Your child or young person has additional support needs arising from a long term disability or disabling condition or a serious or life-threatening illness. By long term, we mean lasting or likely to last 12 months or more.
Child and young person eligibility criteria
Family Fund uses a social model of disability.
Children and young people do not need a diagnosis to meet Family Fund criteria, but their additional support needs must arise from a disability or disabling condition.
Children and young people with additional support needs arising from a disability or disabling condition or with a serious or life-threatening illness meet this criteria where:
- There is evidence that their additional needs impact on family’s choices and their opportunity to enjoy ordinary life; the degree of planning and support required to meet their needs are much greater than that usually required to meet the needs of children.
- They require a high level of support in three or more of Family Fund’s seven areas of support descriptors below.
- Their condition is long term or life-limiting (by long term we mean lasting or likely to last 12 months or more).
Family Fund seven areas of support
Your child should require support in at least three of the seven areas below:
- Personal care, supervision and vigilance – we mean things like feeding, washing, toileting; a very high level of supervision
- Access to social activities – we mean things like engaging socially and taking part in activities
- Education – we mean the type of support that is given for learning and who gives it?
- Communication – we mean listening, speaking and understanding
- Therapy and medical treatment – we mean what treatment or therapy is given, who does this, how often and when?
- Specialist resources used - we mean things like wheelchair, oxygen, screen magnifier, electronic communication aid
- The physical environment – we mean support with getting around and keeping safe.
You must also meet all of our general eligibility criteria.
- Two Year Old Funding (15 Hours)
Do you have a two year old?
If so, then you could be eligible for a free early education place. Your 2 year old could access up to 570 hours of early learning funding, used at ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rated childcare providers.
This funding can be accessed in several ways:
- Up to 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year (term time only)
- You can stretch your special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
- they get Disability Living Allowance
- they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
- You can bank some of the hours to use at a time that is best for you. So, reduce your hours for some weeks of the year to build up spare hours to use at another time.
All of these options depend upon the childcare provider’s vacancies and other circumstances such as opening times; so all will require a discussion with the provider first.
Your child is entitled to a place if they are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. If your child is not in receipt of DLA, you may still be entitled read more about the other criteria to see if you may be eligible.
- 3 and 4 Year Old Funding (15 and 30 Hours)
All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free education for 38 weeks of the year. To redeem the 15 hours, simply let your childcare provider know you would like to claim the entitlement.
If you would like to apply for 30 hours, there are criteria you will need to meet as a parent/carer. There is no special provision for disabilities with this funding, the criteria is based upon the parents working situation.
For 30 hours funding, all adults in the household will need to be working atleast 16 hours a week, unless they are a carer (on carers allowance) or on incapacity benefits. Read more about the criteria here.
- Tax Free Childcare
The Tax-Free Childcare scheme is designed so that for every 80p you put into your Tax-Free Childcare account, the state will add 20p.
In total you'll be able to use the scheme to help pay for up to £10,000 of childcare per child each year – so you could get an extra £2,000 per child (up to £4,000 if your child is disabled) each year.
The scheme's available to parents of children up to and including the age of 11 (or until they turn 17 if you've children with disabilities).
Find out more here.
Disability living allowance can be claimed if you have a disabled child. You will need to demonstrate that your child needs a lot more help or supervision than other children of the same age, such as needing help with personal care, walking difficulties or a learning disability for three months and is likely to need this help, or have these difficulties, for at least another six months.
The DLA rate depends on the level of help the child needs; the child may need an assessment.
If you/your child is over 16 they can apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which aims to help with some of the costs caused by long term ill-health or disability. The amount received is based on an assessment to determine how you/your child’s condition affects you/them and the level of support you/they need.
Did you know? If you have a two year old in receipt of DLA they are entitled to 15 hours of funded childcare.
For more information
Need help to make a claim? - Cerebra Disability Living Allowance Guide is a step-by-step guide to the application form
Applying for benefits can be a bit confusing. It can even seem a bit overwhelming.
C-App can help.
These sites will help you learn more so you:
- Understand what the benefits are and how to apply.
- Understand the forms and the assessment processes.
- Know how to answer the questions in your assessment.
- Know more about your rights.
You can also practice, at your own pace, the sort of questions you'll be asked. This will help you:
- Be more confident about the forms and ready for your assessment.
- Get clear about what you need to mention in your assessment.
- Get an idea of whether you'll qualify for benefit, and at what level, when you do the assessment for real.
Click the relevant link below to be taken to the C-App support website.
These sites have been brought to you by seAp, an independent charity that provides free and confidential advocacy services, and has been developed by Neontribe.
A personal budget is funding which is allocated to an individual for the help and support they need. Individuals can choose to take their personal budget, or part of it, as a direct cash payment, which they can spend on services, or if they wish they can choose to let the Council arrange the services they require.
A Personal Budget can be used to access services from the statutory and independent or voluntary sector providers, mixing and matching what is available from organisations to best meet your child or young person’s needs. Further information can be found on the Cornwall Council website.
Direct Payments are payments that are paid to the parent or carer of a disabled child, or to a disabled young person up to 18 years of age. It enables them to either arrange and pay for their own support and services or to receive support from an independent sector provider. Further information can also be found on the Cornwall Council website.
For information on finding and employing a PA with your personal budget, see the Disability Rights UK factsheet.
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is claimable if you are taking care of someone for at least 35 hours a week.
Carers Allowance is taxable and can affect your other benefits. Any means-tested benefits you get will be reduced by the same amount you get from Carer’s Allowance.
To work out how your benefits are calculated you can use the Gov.uk benefit calculator.
To make sure we provide the appropriate advice and assistance we need to assess children and young people's individual needs.
An assessment is offered to those children and young people with disabilities who are described as 'Children in Need' under The Children Act 1989. Specialist teams work with disabled children and young people who have a learning disability, physical disability, sensory impairment, complex health needs and life limiting or life threatening conditions, and their families and carers.
If you would like an assessment of need please contact 0300 1234 101
Before the assessment takes place, we will talk to you about who needs to be involved and ask your permission to contact them. A member of our team will meet with you and your family to discuss your needs. Any information will be kept confidential, unless there are concerns about your safety or the safety of others.
During the assessment we will discuss your child's developmental needs, for example their health, education, what they are good at and enjoy, their care needs and information about their wider family, community and their environment. It may also be necessary to observe a child in their school or respite setting. This will provide us with an understanding of their needs on a day to day basis.
Before the assessment is completed we will meet again and you will be asked for your views which can then be recorded in the assessment. Once completed you will receive a copy. If you are not in agreement with the assessment please feel free to discuss your concerns.
Assessments are offered to all children and young people who meet our criteria, regardless of their gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or religion and beliefs
The threshold and eligibility guidance that is used in Cornwall can be read here: Safeguarding Children Board Threshold Tool.
A needs assessment is a chance for us to look at your social care needs and work with you to find out which services will best help you to maintain your wellbeing and independence.
We will look at all your needs and create a support plan with you.
There is no charge for a needs assessment.
Social care needs will be based on things you may need help with, such as:
- Making sure you eat well
- Looking after yourself
- Being able to move around your home
- Being able to look after your home
- Having contact with family and friends
- Being able to access other community activities, such as work opportunities or education
- Emotional wellbeing and mental health
- Other caring responsibilities you may have
- Supporting your family and friends to care for you
If you are unsure if you need any help, try our Self Help Tool.
A carer is someone who gives regular care and support to someone else and isn’t paid for it. If you’re an unpaid carer, you can have a carer’s assessment, which looks at the support you need to look after someone else.
You can have a carer’s assessment even if the person you look after doesn’t want to have their own needs assessment or isn’t eligible for help from us.
How do I arrange a carer’s assessment?
Complete our online form to request a carer’s assessment or contact us using the details on this page.
How can a carer’s assessment help me?
A carer’s assessment can help you access things that let you continue as a carer, including:
- Services like a carer’s personal budget
- Taking a short break from caring
- Equipment, meals or adaptations to the home of the person you care for
- Help to remain in work or return to work if you want to
- Education, training and leisure activities
- Specialist advice about things like benefits
What happens at a carer’s assessment?
Our assessor will visit you to talk about your needs and the services that can help you carry on as a carer.
Where possible we’ll send you an assessment form before our assessor visits, so you can think about the help you need to continue in your caring role. A friend or carer support worker can help you prepare for the assessment and be with you during the assessment if you wish.
When they visit, our assessor will complete an assessment form to record what’s going well in your caring role and anything you might need help with.
You don’t have to continue to provide care if you don’t want to, and you can talk about this with our assessor too.
What happens after a carer’s assessment?
We’ll agree a support plan with you so you can get the help you need in your caring role.
What if my needs change?
We aim to review your needs as a carer every year. You can also ask us for a review if your needs change during the year.
Charity Grants: Also, to help with the additional costs of equipment, short breaks, technology, furniture etc, some charities provide grants to eligible families. To find out about grants available, try contacting a charity that specialises in your child’s condition, they may offer funding or know of charities that do.
Other places to try
Cornwall Council Website Links: