Early Support Family File – Sharing information about a Disabled Child

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

The sharing of information part of the Early Support Programme for the families and carers of
disabled children under five years of age.

The Early Support Family File allows families to co-ordinate the support their child receives from health care, education and social care
professionals and organisations. It also allows parents and carers have more involvement in the future care plans for the child.

About the Family File

Things can move very quickly after a diagnosis has been made of your child’s condition. You may meet many different people when getting medical care, support and information. You may also be told a lot of information about your child in a short time.

The Family File allows parents and carers to share information about their child with the professionals they meet, without having to say the same things to every new person. You can also use the Family File to write down important information and the names of professionals you meet.

Visit the Early Support Family File website and download the Early Support Family File

Ways of using the Family File

Some families write very little or only use some of the sheets. Others like to write a lot, add photographs and involve everyone at home in thinking about what to say and how to say it.

Reasons for using the Family File

The Early Support Family File helps you to share information about your child’s situation with professionals.This can be keeping track of multiple contacts and discuss what is most important and then make a plan of what should happen next with everyone who is involved in your child’s care

The main sections are the ‘Introducing ourselves’ section, the professional contacts sections and the ‘Family service plan’ section.

The ‘Introducing ourselves’ section

You can use this section of the Family File to write down everything you would like someone who meets you for the first time to know about your child and your family. This will stop you having to repeat the same information to different people. Give the file to the person you are meeting so that they can read the information you are sharing about your child.

Things to include:

  • information about your child’s disability
  • your child’s medical history
  • what your child likes and does not like
  • which language is spoken at home
  • anything else you want people to know about your child

You can fill it in yourself, or you can talk through what might be useful to include with someone else’s help, for example a health professional or key worker.

What people say about this section

Families say it:

1. It reduces the stress caused by repeating our story
2. It takes away the pressure of trying to remember everything in stressful situations

Professionals say it:

1. It saves time
2. It provides a starting point for the questions I need to ask

The professional contacts sections

There are two sections in the Family File which help you to keep track of staff you meet from health, education, social and voluntary organisations. These are the ‘Professionals working with you’ and the ‘Record of professional contacts’ sections.

Professionals working with you

Any new professional that comes to work with your family, for example an occupational therapist or nurse, can write their contact details in this section. It keeps all relevant names and numbers in one place in case you need them.

Record of professional contacts

Here you can list all the meetings you have with professionals, and there is space to write any follow-up actions. Some people find this useful for telling a family member or carer who was not at the meeting what happened.

Often there are many details to remember and this is a way of recording what was talked about.

The ‘Family service plan’ section

This is where you and the professionals working with you write about the services and support you think would help your child. This is a chance to discuss how things are going, agree what should happen next and set out a plan of who is going to provide help and when.

Other sections of the Family File

Questions to ask

This is where you can note down any questions you may want to ask.

Local organisations and contacts

You may find it useful to talk to other parents and carers who are in the same position as your family. This is the place to list local organisations that may be of interest to you. Your key worker, if you have one, will probably be able to tell you what organisations are available in your area.

Common Assessment Framework (CAF) form

If you have a Common Assessment Framework form, you can keep it here. If you are unsure whether you have one, ask your key worker or your Early Support co-ordinator.

Letters and assessments

This is a place to keep any current papers or information about how your child is doing. This is particularly useful for anything you want to take with you to appointments.

For more information about the Family File, talk to your key worker or health visitor.

See also: Caring For a Disabled Child – Early Support Family File – Child Health and Child Social Care Professionals