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The special needs roadmap

Applying for disability assistance and support - newborns and toddlers.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Martina Popadakova / Sara R. Newell

Since October 2020, we have explored and introduced the general framework and rules for applying for disability assistance and support for special needs children. No two children are alike, even if they have the same diagnosis or age. All families are different with different needs, and a one-size-fits-all system cannot be applied.

Challenges families face may also change with the child's age and may involve different professionals and municipality offices, which you as a parent will need to be a part of. Therefore, we continue this specialised series with this month's issue by focusing on different age groups from newborns until adulthood. When applying for support and assistance for children from newborn up to 3 years of age, we focus on your options and rights.

Counselling before birth

If you are pregnant and prenatal testing shows that your newborn will have a disability or a chronic illness, you may face difficult choices. In such a situation, you must have a qualified basis for making decisions.

At the first stage of your pregnancy, various professionals will advise you when carrying out your prenatal checkups and examinations. You can also receive advice from a clinical genetics department at the hospital if there is a history of hereditary diseases in your family.

This counselling will typically include:

  • Knowledge about your child's disability.

  • Information regarding treatment options.

  • Information regarding support options, e.g. helping you get in contact with a relevant disability or parental organisations.

Further on into your pregnancy, you may receive guidance and advice from your general practitioner, the health nurse, or the nearest midwifery centre. Since 2004, all pregnant women in Denmark have been offered the option of fetal diagnostic testing. The National Board of Health has published the booklet "Risk assessment and fetal diagnostics" (Risikovurdering og fosterdiagnostik), which can be found here: – search for “fosterdiagnostik”.

Seeking support for your newborn or toddler (0-3)

After you have given birth, you will be offered a visit by the health nurse. You can talk to the health nurse about anything that concerns your child and your family's well-being as a whole, such as parenting roles, responsibilities, grief, and crisis.

If your child is diagnosed with a permanent or significant disability, the next step is to contact your local municipality to apply for special support and assistance. The municipality is required by law to offer you family counselling no later than three months after the municipality has become aware that your child has special needs. The family counsellor (familievejleder) is also required by law to inform you about the different types of help and support relevant to your family. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for municipalities not to comply with these legal requirements, so we strongly recommend you contact relevant organisations that can help you with regards to which types of assistance your family may be entitled to, e.g. DUKH or For Lige Vilkår. Read more about family networks, disability organisations, and family counselling in previous issues:

It's vital to your child's development that relevant support and assistance is commenced as early as possible. However, you should be prepared that many different parties are involved in the process when you apply for special support and assistance. E.g. the municipality's special counselling unit, Pedagogical Psychological Counseling (PPR), your child's caseworker, the health nurse, or other relevant parties. The application process and Pedagogical Psychological Counseling Unit were covered in these previous issues:

Childcare and special needs daycare

When you require daycare for your child, the municipality must provide daycare options that meet your child's needs. It is common practice that most children are offered a place in a regular daycare to start with, such as regular daycare, nursery, or kindergarten. The municipality's responsibility is to ensure that your child's daycare provides your child with the necessary support, such as support educators, aids, special toys, etc.

If your child's needs cannot be met by regular daycare services, then the municipality should start by carrying out an assessment of your child's needs for support and, after that, decide which special needs daycare meets these needs. This is often a lengthy process, your application may be denied, or you might disagree with the municipality's decision. Should this be the case, you have the right to appeal for your child's case to be reassessed. You can read more about your right to appeal here:

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