I’m concerned about my child’s/young person's development

I’m concerned about my child’s/young person's development

Some children may display symptoms or behaviours which may give you cause for concern.

Some children may display symptoms or behaviours which may give you cause for concern. Examples of this could include speech and language delays, social and emotional issues, developmental delays and behavioural issues.

This can be a worrying time, however, if you have concerns about your child there are lots of professionals you could talk to, many of whom you may already be in contact with. These professionals are trained to support you and can then refer you on to a more suitable and appropriate service. 

Many parents have concerns about their child’s development, and while most of the time it’s just a normal part of growing up, you could speak to a health professional if you are worried.

If your child is under five, try speaking to your Health Visitor, they have specialist training in child development and are there to help and support you. A member of the Health Visiting team carries out development checks when your child is aged 9 to12 months old and then again when they are between two and two and a half. It’s important to attend these reviews and they give you an opportunity to voice any of your concerns. However, if you are worried about something, you don’t have to wait until the next development check, you can contact your health visitor at any time until your child is five. Members of the Health Visiting team can make referrals to other health services, where appropriate.

Worcestershire Health Visiting Service | Starting Well NHS

For any aged child/young person, you could try your GP, if you have specific concerns, it may be useful to write them down before you go with examples of what you mean. Your GP can make referrals to a number of health services who may be able to help.

You may have heard about the Starting Well Service, this brings together teams of staff who provide help and support to families, parents, children, and young people. The service provides support for parents to be, new parents and families with school aged children and teenagers and work to encourage development and progress. There are Family Hubs located across Worcestershire which you can visit and talk to someone.

For more information please visit: NHS: Starting Well and for information about the Family Hubs: NHS: Starting Well Family Hubs.

The SEND Code of Practice says that staff in education settings/schools should make regular assessments of progress for all children/pupils in schools and settings. This will help to identify those children who are making less than expected progress. The education setting/school should then decide if your child needs SEN support and should talk to you about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school or post 16 provider should involve the young person directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has special educational needs. If you have concerns about them starting nursery or school and you think your child needs some extra help, speak to your GP, Health Visitor or early education worker (e.g. nursery or childminder) about the Early Years Inclusion Process (EYIP). You can find out more about EYIP by visiting this web page: Early Years Inclusion Process for parents.

If your child already attends pre-school, nursery or a childminder have a chat with them. Talk to your child’s key person, as they support your child each day, and they will work with you and the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) to plan what they are going to do next.  They will follow the Graduated Response which includes:

  • observing your child to identify what they do well and what they need more support with
  • they may track your child’s progress on the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) Early Support Tracking documents, which details individual steps of development against expected milestones
  • put in place individualised support or small group activities focusing on a particular skill
  • with your permission, they may refer to other agencies such as Speech and Language Therapy Services to gain expert advice on supporting your child’s development

Worcestershire Children First’s Early Years Inclusion Team offer support and advice about SEND to Early years providers. Included in the information they provide is Supporting parents on the SEND journey which contains some useful advice for parent carers.

If they’re already in school, then speak to your child's teacher or the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SENDCo/SENCo) and they will work with you to identify your concerns and to plan the next steps. As with younger children, the school will follow the Graduated response.

You can find out more about the SEND Graduated Response on this section of the SEND Local offer: Graduated Response.

Health referral pathways

When you are concerned about an aspect of your child’s development it can sometimes be difficult to know who the best person is to speak to, and not all agencies can refer to all the different health services. 

As we have said, the best person to speak to in the first instance, depends on the age of your child and the nature of your concerns, it could be your midwife, health visitor, school nurse, GP, key worker at nursery, SENCO or class teacher at school.

You will find below a guide to which health services different professionals can refer to, but you must always check the health service webpage for the most up-to-date information.

Some services accept self-referrals, these are:

  • ADHD pathway
  • Health Visitors
  • School Health Nurses
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Reach4Wellbeing

Ante-Natal support and Midwives

They can refer you to:

Childcare settings (nursery/preschool)

They can refer you to:

Family Hubs Starting Well Partnership Family Hubs

They can refer you to:

Doctor (GP)

They can refer you to:

Health Visitors

They can refer you to:

Starting Well Service

They can refer you to: 

You may also find this document useful, Health referrals guide (PDF), it is part of the Parent carer engagement in schools toolkit and has information about health referrals. 

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