Child in Need

This page explains the duty of Children's Services under Section 17 Children Act 1989 to provide services to children in need in their area. It explains the definition of a child in need, the assessment process, child in need plans and the types of services available.


All children and young people are unique and have differing needs.  Similary, parents also differ in their capability to respond to and meet their child's needs.


Children's Services are expected to provide help and support to children in their area through:

early help services
the provision of support for children with more complex needs
action under Section 47 Children Act 1989 if there is reasonable cause to supect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.


A 'child in need' assessment under section 17 will identify the needs of the child and ensure that the family are given the appropriate support in enabling them to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.


Legal definition of a child in need


Under Section 17 Children Act 1989 a child will be considered in need if:

they are unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have the opportunity to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without provision of services from the Local Authority
their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of services from the Local Authority
they have a disability (includes blindness, deafness or dumbness, mental disorders and permanent illnesses, injuries or congenital deformities).


Children in need may be:

children with SEND
young carers (click on this link for more information on 
Young Carers)
children who have committed a crime
children whose parents are in prison
asylum seeking children

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