Disabled Children’s Social Care

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Reviewing the legal framework governing social care for disabled children in England to ensure that the law is fair, modern and accessible, allowing children with disabilities to access the support they need.

The problem 

The law on disabled children’s social care in England is currently governed by a patchwork of legislation, some of which dates back more than five decades. This has contributed to variation in the amount and quality of support provided by local authorities, and unnecessarily complicated routes to accessing support for the parents and care givers of disabled children. 

The project 

The Law Commission project was recommended in the 2022 Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which heard from families of disabled children struggling to understand what support they are entitled to and how to access it. The project will play a role in the Government’s ongoing programme for the reform of children’s social care and the system for supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.    

The Department for Education asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of the law, with the following objectives:  

  • To recommend a solution to the patchwork of legislation that currently governs social care for disabled children.  
  • To improve how the law on social care for disabled children fits in with the law relating to social care more broadly.  
  • To review the outdated language and definitions underpinning the law on social care for disabled children.  

The Commission will look at the law and policy on social care for disabled children in England, including section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. The overarching aim of the review will be to simplify and strengthen the law, ensuring that the system is fair and works for children, parents and other care givers, and local authorities. The review will focus on the provision of support and services in family-based care. 


Read the project’s Terms of Reference here.

Next steps 

The Law Commission has started preliminary work on this project, with the aim of publishing a consultation in Autumn 2024. 


By email to dcsc@lawcommission.gov.uk or by phone on 02033 340200. 

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Professor Alison Young