Short breaks statement overview

Our short breaks statement explains how we support parents and carers of disabled children and young people to get a break from caring. It gives details about how we use our budget to fund and promote what are known as 'short breaks'. It describes the kinds of short breaks that are available and how to get access to them.

There is no definitive number of disabled children and young people in Kent, as the statistics available use different definitions of 'disability' and different ways of counting the numbers.

The definition of disability from the Equalities Act 2010 applies to 7% of the child population in Kent (approx. 33,663). In January 2016 there were 7,043 children with an Education, Health and Care plan.

Some of these are children living with profound or complex needs. They are likely to be supported by a social worker, and equate to about 0.35% of the Kent child population (approx. 1,200).

Another factor that has an impact on the demand for services is the changing size of the population. The population in Kent is increasing: between 2016-2020 the 0-25 years population will have increased by 14% which is another 6,400 children and young people. National data suggests that the proportion of the child population who are disabled has doubled since 2011.

With the help of Kent Parent Carer Forum, we invited parents to help us to refresh the Short Breaks Statement. We sent out a short questionnaire to parents who responded to our invitation and also held a series of small meetings with parents across Kent.

Parents told us that dividing short breaks into categories and calling them ‘specialist, targeted and universal’ was unhelpful because children do not always fit neatly into these categories, and it depended more on the kind of activity, venue, staffing levels and the skills and experience of staff. They wanted us to take a more child-friendly approach to our commissioning, based on the abilities of children. We listened to this, and have changed the way that we commission our services, asking the organisations that we fund to provide activities designed around both what children can do and also what will encourage them to learn new skills. Parents also said that they did not want to have to go to a social worker for every service. With the exception of a few expensive services we have changed this so  parents can now approach organisations directly.

Parents also told us that our Local Offer needed to list all the services, where they were, what they could provide, and for which age group. We've started to make these changes and have also made it possible for organisations who provide services to put information directly into the Local Offer webpages to try and make sure they are always up to date.

In the past, there hasn't always been fairness in the way that short breaks were distributed across Kent. This sometimes meant that if you lived in one part of Kent you were more likely to get a short break than if you lived in another part. Some of this is beyond our control because we do not commission or fund all the voluntary sector services for disabled children and young people in the county, but we have now made sure that the KCC budget is used fairly. No matter where you live in Kent, KCC has made available the same type of service for every district. There may be services over and above this that the voluntary sector run.

Read the rest of the short breaks statement