Assessing your child's need under the Disability Act 2005

Any child born after June 1st 2002 is eligible to apply for an assessment under the Disability Act 2005 regardless of their age at the time of application.

Children who qualify for an assessment of need under the Act have a right to:

  • an assessment of their health and education needs arising from their disability;
  • an Assessment Report;
  • a statement of the services they will receive;
  • make a complaint if they are not happy with any part of the process.

Who can apply for an assessment?
Any parent who feels that their child (born after 1st June 2002) may have a disability can apply for an assessment.  An application can also be made by a legal guardian.  There is a provision under the Disability Act, 2005, for a personal advocate to be assigned by the Citizens Information Board (for more information call 0761 07 9000 or visit

What is an assessment of need?
An assessment of need is an assessment of your child's needs associated with his or her disability.  After this, you will receive an Assessment Report detailing your child's needs and the services required to meet those needs.

Who will carry out the assessment?
Your first point of contact is your local Assessment Officer who is responsible for your child's assessment.  Each Community Healthcare Organisation has a number of Assessment Officers.  They can assist you with your child's application and help and support you through the process.  The Assessment Officer is responsible for issuing your child's Assessment Report.  The assessment is carried out regardless of the cost or availability of services. You will be encouraged to take part in your child's assessment.

Where do I apply?
Applications must be made in writing on a standard form which is available from the Assessment Officer in your Community Healthcare Organisation or you can download Assessment of Need Application Form here.

How long will it take?
Your child's assessment must start within 3 months from when the completed application form is received by the HSE.  It must be completed within a further 3 months from the date on which the assessment commenced.  In exceptional circumstances, the assessment may take longer than 3 months, but must be completed as soon as possible.

What happens next?
When the assessment is complete, a HSE Case Manager, who may also be referred to as the Liaison Officer, will prepare a Service Statement for you. The Service Statement will say what services and supports will be provided to your child and will be prepared within 1 month of the assessment being completed.  You will receive your child's Assessment Report and Service Statement at the same time.

What can I do if I am not satisfied?
The Disability Act 2005 provides for a special complaints and appeals procedure which you can use if you are unhappy with your child's assessment or Service Statement.  You may complain on the following grounds:

  1. The Assessment Officer decides that your child does not meet the definition of disability according to the Act and you disagree.
  2. Your child's assessment was not started or completed within the timeframes specified under the Act.  Your child's assessment must be started as soon as possible but no later than three months from the date of receipt of your completed application form.  Once started, it must be completed within a further three months from the date of commencement.
  3. You believe that your child’s assessment was not carried out in line with the standards for assessment
  4. You believe that the content of your child's Service Statement is inaccurate or incorrect.
  5. Your child has not received a service that is detailed in his or her Service Statement.

When should I make a complaint?
You can make a complaint at any stage after you have submitted a completed application form for an assessment of need to the Assessment Officer. The regulations associated with the Disability Act require that you complain within 3 months of the date on which you became aware of the cause of the complaint.

What should I do if I want to make a complaint?
In the first instance, if your complaint is about the assessment process, contact the Assessment Officer and if it is about the Service Statement, contact the Case Manager.

If you are still not happy and wish to involve the Disability Complaints Officer, the Assessment Officer or Case Manager will give you a form to fill in, alternatively, you may contact the Complaints Officer directly (Tel: 045-880400).  This form also lists the grounds on which you can make a complaint. The form, when completed, needs to be returned to the Complaints Officer.  The address is on the form.  The Complaints Officer is independent under the Act.  This means that the Complaints Officer will look at your complaint objectively and fairly.

What happens next?
The Complaints Officer will write to you to let you know that the reason(s) for your complaint is being examined. The Complaints Officer will contact the Assessment Officer or Case Manager, as appropriate, in order to obtain all of the information pertaining to your child's assessment or Service Statement. The Complaints Officer will also speak to you. The Complaints Officer will then decide if you have a well founded reason for making a complaint. If the Complaints Officer considers that the complaint is not well founded, you will be told why and you will also receive a letter explaining the reasons why.

Resolving the complaint informally.
If your complaint is well founded, the Complaints Officer dealing with your case will decide, very quickly, if there is scope for your complaint to be resolved informally. If this is the case, the Complaints Officer will discuss the proposed resolution with you and the other parties to the complaint and, if agreement is reached, you will receive a letter outlining the agreement.

What if my complaint is well founded and cannot be resolved informally?
If an informal resolution is not possible, the Complaints Officer will initiate a formal investigation of your complaint. During the course of a formal investigation, the Complaints Officer will talk to you in some detail about your concerns. The Complaints Officer will examine the file and where necessary will seek information from other parties. The Complaints Officer may also interview the other parties where necessary.

What happens next?
The Complaints Officer will consider all of the information concerning your complaint and prepare a final report on the matter.  This report will be given to you, to the Assessment Officer or Case Manager, and to any other relevant people.

What is in a final report?
The final report will outline the grounds for complaint and detail all the facts provided by you, the Assessment Officer or Case Manager, and any other person who gave information.  The report will include the findings of the investigation, outline whether the complaint is being upheld or not and, in the event that the complaint is being upheld, make recommendations. The report may contain one or more of the following findings and recommendations:

1. That your child may have a disability and that your child is reassessed within a specified time period.

2. That the HSE, or those providing services on its behalf, failed to start or complete your child's assessment within the timeframes set out under the Disability Act and a recommendation that the assessment be started and completed within a specified period.

3. That your child's assessment was not done in line with all or some of the standards for assessment and that his or her assessment or part of it should be done again within a specified time period.

4. That the content of your child's Service Statement is inaccurate or incorrect and that it is amended or changed by the Case Manager in a specified time period.

5. That the HSE, or those providing services on its behalf, did not provide, or fully provide, a service specified in your child's Service Statement and that it should be provided in full within a certain period.

What if I am unhappy with the outcome of my complaint?
If you are unhappy with the findings and recommendations of the Complaints Officer, or if the HSE has not acted on the recommendations of the Complaints Officer, you can appeal to the Disability Appeals Officer.  An information leaflet and an application form for this appeals process will always be included with the Complaints Officer’s final report.

The Disability Appeals Officer is independent and is appointed by the Minister for Health.  The Appeals Officer is not part of the HSE.  For more information about making an appeal, contact the Disability Appeals Office on LoCall 1850 211 583 or at

Further Reading:

For information in other formats, please contact the Assessment Officer in your Community Healthcare Organisation.


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