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Self-directed support (SDS)

Supported children and their carers

Self-directed support – support, care, trust, protect. Image shows elderly adults chatting on a bench, a person receiving occupational therapy/rehabilitation with an OT, person in wheelchair, home carer with elderly client, elderly person and young child

The 2013 Act applies to children, young people (including those in transition to adulthood) as well as adults. It therefore affects the way that particular forms of support for children and their families are arranged. In particular, it provides the opportunity for children and their families to take greater control over the support provided to them. By giving families greater choice and control over their support, the self-directed approach is designed to ensure that what matters to the child is central to every decision made. The 2013 Act should therefore be seen as strengthening engagement with children (the 2013 Act and the 2014 Act both refer to a child being a person up to age 18), young people (up to age 26) and their families, including those subject to compulsory measures of care.

A further aspect in relation to children is that parents (and in some situation others with parental responsibilities or parental rights such as certain carers or the local authority), are the persons able in law to make decisions on behalf of the child. Although the child must be consulted and has the right to give their view and have this taken into account in accordance with their age and maturity), the child is not the ultimate decision-maker in relation to their own care.

Children affected by disability or who are in need can use self-directed support and are recognised as equal citizens with rights and responsibilities.

The child and their carers will help produce the assessment with Social Work and the social worker will make sure the child fully understands any decisions or choices.

All support and planning for children and young people should be underpinned by ‘Getting it right for every child’54 (GIRFEC) which is the national approach in Scotland to promoting, supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland. All outcomes should match Scottish Government's wellbeing indicators which are:

  • safe
  • healthy
  • active
  • nurtured
  • achieving
  • respected
  • responsible
  • included

In relation to direct payments – in other words, the provision of a cash payment in place of support – Regulation 11 of the Self-directed Support (Direct Payments) (Scotland) Regulations provide the authority with further discretion to refuse to provide the direct payment option, though only where the child‘s safety will be put at risk by the provision of the direct payment.

Standard 10 of the SDS Framework of Standards sets out the core components of early planning for transitions so that people are given the help and support they need to plan for, and adjust to, new phases of their lives. Whilst recognising that transitions occur throughout a person’s life this has particular importance for young people with additional support needs who are making the transition to young adult lives. The transition period in which young people develop from adolescents to young adults involves them taking more control or responsibility and significant changes to their experiences, expectations, places and routines. Transitions also impact on the family or those who care for the young person.