Short breaks and respite

Short breaks is the term used for a range of services provided for families to give carers of disabled children a break from caring, and for children to take part in fun activities and have new experiences that promote positive outcomes. Please see our short breaks statement, in the documents area, for further information.

A short break can help disabled children to:

  • Spend time with friends and make new ones
  • Take part in interesting activities and new experiences
  • Develop positive life and social skills
  • Be more independent or confident
  • Prepare for life as an adult
  • Be safe
  • Have fun

Short breaks can also help families to:

  • Feel less pressured
  • Be able to get on with normal routines
  • Have some 'me time'
  • Spend time with other children or together as a family
  • Be confident that their child is safe and having fun with skilled carers who understand their needs

There are three tiers of service that can offer a short break:

Tier 1 - Universal: mainstream community services that are accessible without an assessment such as youth clubs, uniformed groups (for example cubs, brownies), leisure centres, nurseries, childminders and activity-based groups

Tier 2 - Targeted: a short breaks allowance scheme that is targeting around 175 children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The scheme can provide funding to children and families to help them access daytime activities without a social care assessment. The scheme includes a menu of approved activities.

Tier 3 - Specialist: specialist short break services can be provided to meet a specific need following a social care assessment of the child's and carer's circumstances. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, needs can be met through a direct payment for the family to make their own arrangements, or through a range of approved daytime activities or overnight short breaks.