Short breaks statement - about short breaks

A short break is any break that you get from caring for your child. It could be for just a couple of hours, or a whole day, or a few days.

They are aimed at families with a disabled child, to allow them to have 'me time', a chance to do things they want to do without having to look out for their child all the time.

A short break is not the same as childcare. Childcare is when your child is at nursery or with a childminder. All 3 and 4 year olds and some 2 year olds are entitled to a certain amount of free early education and childcare. Find out more about the funding available for your child.

Types of short breaks in Kent include:

  • weekend clubs during term time
  • school summer holiday clubs
  • overnight stays (with an approved foster carer or in a residential unit)
  • daytime stays (with an approved foster carer or in a residential unit)
  • support in the home.

You can access the first 2 of these types of short breaks directly. A social worker may suggest the last 3 optional short breaks in their assessment.

Some families whose child’s needs are severe and profound, and have been assessed as needing a break from caring, may choose to have a direct payment (Kent Card) instead of a service provided by us.

A direct payment enables families to arrange and pay for the type of short break support that is best for them. For example, some families use a direct payment to employ a personal assistant to give them some ‘time out’ from caring responsibilities. For these families we have arranged support to help with budgeting and employment issues. For children and for young people transitioning to adulthood this support is provided by We Are Beams.

We also have some short break services for carers of disabled adults.

Find out how we meet the needs of of disabled children in Kent.

Sensory short breaks

We have arranged special activities for children with significant hearing or visual impairment.

These are provided by:

Clubs and activities for disabled children

We have been impressed with the way our short breaks providers quickly established alternative virtual services at the beginning of lockdown, and we are now supporting them to begin to resume face-to-face clubs and activities in a safe way.

We have asked them to use the feedback we received from families recently in their plans to resume services to those who wish to access them.

However, services in the summer holidays will look different from what you are used to. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the provision that your child accesses, please get in touch with the provider directly.

Where online content has worked well, we have asked all providers to continue with this where possible and some providers will be putting in place activity packs to support families at home. This is especially the case for children and young people who are either not able or not wanting to return to face-to-face contact.

Our Youth Service has also moved online and you can find out about the range of activities available.

Non Kent County Council services

The Equality Act 2010 states that nobody should be discriminated against or treated unfavourably because of their disability. It also requires organisations to make reasonable adjustments to make sure that disabled people can use their services.

This law applies to activities called 'universal services' because they are routinely available to all, these activities include:

Support to use services

Some services are happy to accept disabled children and young people, but to get the most out of their time there some may need additional support. This could be because they need help with using the toilet, or with their behaviour. Some children just need someone to go along with them for the first few times to help the service to understand how to include them successfully.

Activities for all children such as Girl Guides and Scouts, or summer fun days are run by their local council. This means that their parents can have a break.

Most of these activities are open to families without having to go through a social worker.

Parents have told us that:

  • they need most help during school holidays, especially towards the end of the summer holiday
  • regular club activities during term time would also help
  • they want short break services they can feel confident in
  • short break services need to be affordable
  • they would like to be able to refer directly themselves.

We have made grants available to a range of organisations that contribute to an affordable programme of activities that offer regular short breaks across the year, with a greater number of hours provided during the summer holidays.

The activities are based at local venues that are accessible and safe. We want children to become familiar with their local communities and to develop relationships within them. This could be something as simple as going with other children to the local shops, or to have lunch somewhere.

There are some kinds of short breaks that will need to be arranged by a social worker. This is because we want to make sure that carers of children living with the most complex disabilities do not miss out on a short break.

Read more about how to get social care help from us.

You can make a referral to our Disabled Children and Young People Service by:

Our social workers will assess their needs and where appropriate arrange a short break. We will look at:

  • the child or young person's needs
  • overnight and daytime stays in 1 of our 5 residential care centres
  • alternative centres run by other organisations
  • stays with an approved foster carer.

Find out how we use our tool to help explain the differing levels of capabilities that disabled children may have for our short break assessments.