Short breaks

Short breaks are positive, fun activities for disabled children and young people (0 to 18 years) to take part in. They can be anything from a couple of hours at an after school activity or weekend club, to an overnight stay for those with more profound needs.

They support your child or young person to:

  • develop their independence
  • increase their readiness for becoming an adult
  • help their physical and emotional health
  • reduce loneliness
  • have new experiences and learn
  • have fun and meet friends.

They will help you to:

  • take a break from their caring responsibilities
  • rest and unwind
  • spend time with other family members
  • provide the right support at the right time
  • build family resilience.

Types of short breaks

Depending on your son or daughter's needs, there are different categories of short breaks.

Universal short breaks are everyday community services that can be used by everyone without an assessment. For example:

  • after school activities
  • childminders
  • leisure centres
  • uniformed organisations, for example Scouts and Girl Guiding
  • special interest clubs
  • youth hubs.

Wherever possible, these should be accessible to disabled children and young people and should form part of the valuable experiences as they grow up. Please contact them directly if you're concerned about how your son or daughter would access these services.

Find a universal short break near you

Alternatively you can also visit our days out and activities page for family days out.

Families of disabled children and young people can self-refer to targeted short breaks. They're for those who can't get universal services without extra help, according to the Disability Discrimination Act 2010. They can be provided on weekends, evenings and during school holidays.

We purchase a number of short break activities across the county. All organisations that receive funding from us are required to register on our local offer directory.

Find targeted services locally available to you

Register your targeted short break on our directory.

Specialist short breaks are daytime or overnight services, or services paid for by direct payments, including support in the home.

They are designed to meet the needs of an individual child or young person and their carers after a social care assessment (child and families assessment or young person’s assessment from age 16).

Sensory supported short breaks

Children or young adults with sensory needs can access specialist services commissioned to meet their specific needs.

Contact our specialist teaching and learning service (STLS) for more information.

We have short break foster carers for disabled children and young people in various parts of the county and also five centres in Kent which offer daytime or overnight stays for children and young people aged 5 to 17 with learning disabilities, social communication disorders, complex health needs and challenging behaviour.

Referrals for these services will be discussed with you as part of your assessment or annual review and could form part of your son or daughter's education, health and care (EHC) plan.

The short break units are:

They are supported by specialist heath staff from the Kent Community NHS Health Trust.

Daytime or overnight short breaks with foster carers or in one of our centres cannot be purchased through direct payments.

Universal short breaks

Charges are set by the activity provider and you will probably pay the same price as other parents. It's best to check with the provider directly to discuss costs.

Targeted, specialist and overnight short breaks

For grant funded targeted and specialist short breaks you will be expected to make a parental contribution of at least £2.50 per hour towards the activities.

This contribution does not cover the whole cost of providing the break or activity but is a contribution at a similar amount to what all parents would pay for children’s clubs and activities.

Shared Lives support young people aged over the age of 16.

They can choose a placement of their choice, which is somewhere safe and supportive for them to stay in the home of a chosen host. Their host could be a single person, a couple or a whole family. They are able to be a part of a family, bring their own things and be supported in their hobbies, interests and activities.

Find out more about Shared Lives.