‘Short breaks’ is a term to describe services that are designed to:
support parent carers to be able to care for their disabled children better, or to do so more effectively.
support disabled children to enjoy the same experiences as other children, develop new skills and help them to achieve their ambitions in life.
Families can make an application for ‘Short Breaks’ by completing the Early Help Assessment Tool (EHAT) and get in touch with the child or young person’s relevant health practitioner.
An EHAT needs to be completed by a professional who the family is comfortable working with in order to complete the form together. The information in the form can be sensitive and it is important that families have confidence in the professional they are sharing their details with. The person completing the form could be any professional who has contact with a child/young person or family e.g. a school teacher, health visitor or support worker. The EHAT is entirely voluntary and belongs to the family.
The assessment is submitted to the All Age Disability Children’s Panel where a final funding decision will be made.
In addition,it may be necessary to complete a Children and Families Assessment if there is enough evidence to suggest the child or young person’s and family’s needs require further exploration, in order to identify assessed eligible needs and provide more appropriate services and support.
Legislation for the provision of short breaks
Local authorities have a range of legal duties to provide breaks for carers and disabled children; each one can last from just a few hours to a few days, and occasionally longer, depending on the type of provision and needs of the family.
The “Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children” Regulations 2011 provide further detail on how local authorities must perform their duty in the Children Act 1989 to provide, as part of the range of services they provide for families, breaks from caring for carers of disabled children and young people. This is to support carers to continue to care for their child/young person at home and to allow them to do so more effectively. Short Breaks guide for local authorities can be read here (external link).
In summary, the Short Breaks Regulations require local authorities to do three things:
To ensure that, when making short break provision, they have regard to the needs of different types of carers, not just those who would be unable to continue to provide care without a break
To provide a range of breaks, as appropriate, during the day, night, at weekends and during the school holidays
To provide parents and carers with a short breaks services statement describing the range of available breaks and any eligibility criteria attached to them
Further information on Short Breaks is available by contacting: Telephone: 020 8770 6001