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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Cumbria’s New Challenging Behaviour Early Intervention Service

by Harry Harrison, Commissioning Manager of the Children and Families Team at Cumbria CCG on May 23rd 2017

Members of the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group Members of the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group

The inception of our new Challenging Behaviour Early Intervention Service followed the transfer of a Children’s Respite home from the Health Service back under Local Authority jurisdiction.  The transfer freed up £300k that the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Children and Families Team, in partnership with the Local Authority, decided to reinvest in the provision of services to support children who have behaviours that challenge.  This decision was made due to the increased numbers of children displaying challenging behaviour and a lack of effective care for these children in Cumbria.

The Early Intervention Project work undertaken by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation played an integral role in the development of our early intervention service.  The friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful staff made accessing publications and data, canvassing opinions and making direct links with other services easy and very achievable.  The ability to be signposted to other services in the country enabled Cumbria to make informed decisions about the development of our service specification and service model.

The service is aimed at children aged 2-11 years of age and is designed to deliver a short term intervention of 6-8 sessions, dependent on need.  The service takes a tiered approach to care with any initial involvement targeting group activities/sessions (Early Bird, Confident Parenting and What Now), which can be followed up with more tailored approaches using the Positive Behavioural Support model.

Whilst a diagnosis is not required to access the service, it is expected that children with a learning disability and/or autism or a global developmental delay, who are displaying behaviours that challenge, would be the main target for the service.  The aim of the service is to empower families to develop coping strategies to manage their children effectively when they challenge, maintain children in their family home, ensure that children can access education, improve quality of life of both the child and their family and decrease the need for out of area placements, as they approach their teenage years.

The new service is a standalone service but is embedded within the current Learning Disabilities Team and is planned to start in July/August 2017.


Tools to Develop Local Pathways – The CBF and NDTi guide for service providers to help develop early intervention services for children with behaviour described as challenging.

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