Short breaks statement – how we manage the service

Because we are using public money to commission short breaks, we try and ensure that we get the very best possible value for every pound that is spent.

Firstly, we have to understand what services are needed, where they should be, and what form they should take. As part of this understanding, we collect information about existing services and population data. We also talk to families, and other organisations providing a service for disabled children and young people.

We then plan the service, write a specification for it and look for a suitable organisation to provide the service. Sometimes, for county wide services, for example, we give organisations the opportunity to compete against each other to win a contract that guarantees them a set amount of funding for a set amount of time.

We write into the contract exactly what is required to be provided (this could be the number of days a play scheme operates for, and the number of children who can attend each day).

We decide what short break activities we are going to fund at meetings of our Short Breaks Commissioning Board, on which parents of disabled children are represented. The decisions of this meeting then have to be agreed by Kent County Council as a whole.

To ensure that the different organisations we fund work together, we bring them together in regular forums, which also give us an opportunity to ensure they are kept informed about new developments (for example, new procedures for keeping children safe from harm).

We meet with the organisation regularly throughout the life of the contract to make sure that they are meeting the terms of the agreement, and also that parents and children are happy with the quality of the service.

We also want to know what difference the service has made to the lives of parents and children. We have asked all the organisations that we fund to think about how they can measure this difference.

For parents, this could be that they feel supported to continue to care for their child in the family home. Or it might be that regular breaks help to make their family stronger, and family life less stressful.

What parents have told us

"I would welcome the opportunity to purchase the short breaks of my choice if I were given a payment to do this because I could then chose what my child wants to do, not what someone else thinks he wants."

"It is nice to do activities where you don't have to watch your child like a hawk all the time. You can chat with other carers, make friends and know that if your child 'kicks off' people understand and won't criticise or have a go at you."

"Give funding to the small groups that put on events and activities for our kids, they work damn hard and don't get paid, and the funding you give to larger charities and organisations goes on overheads and staff before the kids."

What children have told us

For children, we want to know that they have been kept safe and had fun at a short break, and have been given a chance to try new activities and make new friends.

One of the conditions that organisations sign up to when they receive funding from us is that they will ask children what they would like from a short break, and what they think of the service they get.

"Adults who run clubs need training on disabilities like autism because it's not as obvious as a physical disability."

"If you run a club equally you need to support everyone. Each person needs the right amount of support."

"We don't want special clubs; we want to get supported and have a good time."

We keep a register of disabled children to help us to plan services for the future.

If you have a disabled child who is 19 years old or under, you can register them with us by filling in our registration form.

If you register, you'll be improving future services for disabled children in Kent because we use anonymous statistical information from our register to work out what kind of services parents need for their children in different parts of Kent.

You don't have to register your child with us if you don't want to. Our register is completely confidential and we don't share any personal information from it with anyone.

Read the rest of the short breaks statement