We use cookies to help us improve your experience and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

To find out more about cookies and how we use them, please see our privacy policy.

Tell me about the PDS Programme

The vision for children’s disability services

  • Easy access to the services children need
  • Fairness in providing services
  • Families, health services and schools working together to support children in developing their potential

What is this programme about?Painted Hands

At present there are some very good services for children with disabilities and their families but also some large gaps. There may be a service for children with an intellectual disability in a locality, but none for children with a physical disability. Some children and their families have little or no access to services.

We need a fairer way to provide services for children with disabilities:

  • Services should be based on a child’s needs rather than on their diagnosis
  • Children and families should have services available wherever they live

A national programme called ‘Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People’ (often shortened to PDS) is changing the way services are provided across the country to make it equitable and consistent for all.

Access to services for children & young people

Many children with delays in their development can have their needs met by their local Primary Care services (public health nurse, community speech and language therapist, family doctor, community physiotherapist etc).

Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) will provide services for all children with more significant needs and who require a team of professionals working together. This will be regardless of the child’s disability, diagnosis or where he or she goes to school.

Parents and health professionals, instead of trying to find their way through a maze of services, will easily be able to find out where a child should be referred.

How is the programme being organised?

A National Working Group guides and oversees the programme.

Local Implementation Groups - representatives of services and parents are working out how services can be reorganised to achieve this improved structure and operation of services in their area. This includes:

  • A review of what services are currently available for children with disabilities
  • Planning how best to use resources to meet children’s needs
  • Forming a partnership between all the disability organisations in an area so that they can work together
  • Moving the current staff in disability services to form Children’s Disability Network Teams
  • Helping families with their move to a new team and service

What stage has the programme reached?

Because of the way services have developed over the decades, each part of the country is at a different stage of reconfiguration. 

When this programme is completed every child with complex needs in the country will have access to a service.