What is a Short Break?
Short Breaks for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, come in many different forms. They can:
- give children and young people with special educational needs and/or Disabilities, opportunities to enjoy fun social, leisure or educational activities, with or without their parent or carer
- give parent or carers a break from caring, enabling them to have time to undertake whatever they would like to do, such as leisure activities, day-to-day tasks, spending time with other family members or education/training opportunities.
Short Breaks can last anything from a couple of hours, to a number of days in the home or else where and can be offered during daytimes, evenings, weekends and school holidays. For some short breaks an assessment of need may be necessary to ensure that the right level of support and short break activities/services are used.
What is a Short Break Statement?
Every local authority has to provide a statement. A short break statement gives information to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, such as:
- the types of short break services that can offer breaks from caring and the support available for families, that is personalised and achieves positive outcomes.
- who can access short breaks
- finding out what other help is available
- how families can feedback their views on short breaks.
Who is a short break for?
Generally, all children, young people and their parents and carers can access short breaks through a range of activities and services available in the local community. These are known as Universal Services. However, this statement is a guide to the services offered by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and by other organisations, highlighting the range of short break activities available for disabled children and young people, aged 0-18 years. These are known as Targeted and Specialist Services.
Within the East Riding, there are estimated to be around 13,000* children and young people with self-reported longstanding illnesses or a disability . The majority of these children and young people will be able to access Universal short breaks without support. Within this total, there are around 1,400 who may require more targeted or specialist support.
(*These numbers are self-reported by parents in the East Riding of Yorkshire, through a national survey called the ‘General Household Survey’ and is used by Public Health England to inform a range of public services. Data available from Atlas National Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network website (external website)
What do we mean by disabilities?
The current SEND Code of Practice covers the 0-25 age range and includes guidance relating to children and young people with a disability as well as those with special educational needs.
Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 – that is: ‘…a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day to day activities’. Long –term means ‘more than a year’ and ‘substantial’ is defined as ‘more than minor or trivial’.
What financial support can I access to help with short break activities?
There is a limited range of financial support available that children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their parents and carers may be entitled to claim/use. If eligible, these funding opportunities may help you access a range of short break activities or other social, leisure or education opportunities.
Please visit the following pages for further details:
Grant Giving Organisations
East Riding Local Offer - 2, 3 and 4-year-old funding (which can help enable you to access education and social activities)
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can also help towards the extra costs of bringing up a disabled child. DLA is:
- not means-tested (your financial circumstances will not be taken into account) not taxable, and
- does not reduce other benefits. In some cases DLA can increase the amount of benefit you get, or help you to qualify for other benefits (such as Carer’s Allowance and/or tax credits).
For further details visit the Disability-specific-financial-support page or you could contact the Disability Living Allowance helpline directly for more information on:
Tel: 0345 712 3456
Is transport provided to short break activities?
Transport is not routinely provided to access short break provision. It is expected that parents and carers take responsibility for transporting the children/young people they care for to events and activities, or make arrangements for this to happen. However, we do recognise that transport can be difficult for some families. This could be discussed with the activities’ service provider, as they may offer transport, or parents and carers could organise transport together if they are going to the same activities. Transport concerns and issues would also be picked up through assessment, if there is a need identified.
Please contact the Families Information Service Hub (FISH) on (01482) 396469 for further details and also access the following page on the East Riding Local Offer for further information about benefits:
An East Riding parent said:
"Accessing a range of local short break activities is keeping my son active, motivated and improving his socialising skills, as well as being calming. It has positives for him and us as well".
Update - December 2021
The intention of this briefing note is to provide context to some of the conversations that have been taking place between the Local Authority and some parents and carers of children who receive short breaks. The Local Authority must ensure that it complies with legislation and a recent review of all short breaks indicated that a small number of children are in receipt of more than 75 nights per annum, but their status is not ‘looked after’. For these children there are duties that local authorities must adhere to and as such parents and carers need to be made aware of the expectations set out in legislation.
We recognise that this can be confusing and raise anxieties, but we are hopeful that having conversations with you will help to explain the available options.
Short breaks can be provided by local authorities through the use of their powers under: section 17(6) of the 1989 Children Act, which grants local authorities a power to provide accommodation as part of a range of services in order to discharge their general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need; and section 20(4) of the 1989 Act, which grants local authorities a power to provide accommodation ‘for any child within their area (even though a person who has parental responsibility for him is able to provide him with accommodation) if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child’s welfare’.
There will be some children whose package of short breaks is over 75 night in one year, meaning the Local Authority must provide the services under section 20(4) rather than 17(6). When a child is accommodated under section 20(04), the Local Authority have a duty to produce a care plan, appoint an independent reviewing officer and hold regular reviews. The review process allows for independent scrutiny of how the provision being provided meets the individual needs of a child. The views of parents, carers and where appropriate, children, are considered and incorporated in ongoing recommendations for the provision to continue.
The purpose of the plan for a child in a short break is substantially different from the plan for a child who is looked after continuously. Where a child receives short breaks, the parents have primary responsibility for planning their child’s future, although the family may often seek advice and support from the local authority in meeting their child’s needs. It is important to note that this does not mean there are concerns about parenting or the way that a child is looked after at home. The short break care plan should focus on setting out those matters which will ensure the child’s needs can be fully met while the child is away from his/her parents.
What does this mean for families?
Providing accommodation on this basis has no effect on the parents’ parental responsibility and, of course, parents can remove their child from the accommodation at any time. Parents retain overall responsibility for the health, education and longer-term planning for their child, although they may ask for assistance from the local authority.
It is the parent’s choice regarding whether their child is accommodated under section 20(4), however should they not wish for this to happen because of the need to comply with legislation. a conversation will be had to explore options and possible alternative packages to meet needs.
What will we do in the future?
It is important that the Local Authority are transparent with parents where overnight short breaks are an assessed need, to ensure that they understand the duties of the Local Authority. To ensure this happens at the earliest point possible it will form part of the conversations during the assessment process.