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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Short breaks statement

What is a short breaks statement?

The government requires every local authority to produce a short breaks statement so that disabled children, young people and their families know what services are available and how they can access them.

Our short breaks statement is divided into the following sections to make the information easy to understand:

  • The impact of COVID-19
  • What are short breaks?
  • Who is supported by short breaks
  • How you access them
  • What’s planned for the future?

The impact of COVID-19

We are continuing to work with organisations that provide short breaks to ensure that the most vulnerable to COVID-19 are still protected as the remaining legal restrictions are removed and we enter into living with COVID-19.

What are short breaks?

Disabled children and young people have the right to be supported at home and in their local communities, to have opportunities to meet and make friends, feel confident, and to thrive with a good family life.

Short breaks help to do this by giving an opportunity for children and young people to meet new people, take part in activities, enjoy positive learning opportunities and have different experiences whilst giving their families a break from their caring responsibilities.

They can last a few hours, a whole day, evening, overnight or for a whole weekend, or during the school holidays. They can take place at home, in the community or in a residential setting. Childcare settings can sometimes be used as venues for short break activities.

They can include support to access activities such as sports, music, crafts, drama or community groups like Scouts or Brownies; this might be through support from workers often called ‘enablers’. This could be for a limited time to help a child join in with an activity until they can attend independently, or ongoing depending on their individual needs.

They can also include group activities like youth clubs, Saturday groups and holiday clubs.

Support is also available in the home through short breaks, either to offer a child or young person’s parents additional support while they are there or to allow family members to take a break from their caring role.

Overnight short breaks

For some families, an overnight short break offers short-term care for children and young people with a disability or health condition that significantly impacts on the family.

They form part of a support package based on the particular needs of individual children and their families. They could be provided by a foster carer, registered children’s home (for short breaks) or an additional carer within the family home.

Direct payments

Parents have told us they enjoy the flexibility of funding their short breaks through their direct payments and personal budgets so they can choose and arrange services themselves. We are committed to supporting families to do this wherever possible.

Information about local services

Pinpoint Devon offers a directory of community services that are available to families in Devon. This information is supplied by community organisations themselves.

It includes details of holiday activities, after-school clubs, overnight short breaks, enabling services, and support to access community-based activities.

Who is supported by short breaks?

Every family and situation is different, but short breaks are usually for disabled children and young people including those with complex health needs aged between 0-18 years living in Devon.

Devon County Council’s Disabled Children’s Service will work with you to undertake an assessment of need to enable us to consider the support available to meet needs as well as the eligibility for short break support to be provided. The Disabled Children’s Service’s eligibility criteria is published here.

If a child is not eligible for services provided through the Disabled Children’s Service, their needs can be assessed and supported by early help. The Devon Children and Families Partnership website has more information about early help assessment and support.

How to access short breaks

If you think your disabled child or young person may be eligible for short breaks there will need to be an assessment completed by the Disabled Children’s Service. Call the Service on 01392 385276 to have an initial conversation about how they might be able to help.

Referrals are made through Children and Family Health Devon’s Single Point of Access Team. You can contact them by phone on 03300 245 321, by emailing TSDFT.DevonSPA@nhs.net or by completing their referral form.

If your child is eligible for an assessment this will look at what support your child needs, and also consider the impact on the rest of the family. An assessment is broken down into three parts:

  • Strengths and needs of your disabled child.
  • Your strengths and needs as their parent or carer(s) – this may include a parent carer needs assessment.
  • Strengths and needs of your wider family, including your disabled child’s siblings.

What’s planned for the future?

The way health and social care services are delivered to children and young people with SEND and their families is undergoing significant change.

As part of this, we want to continue to develop and improve short breaks services to reflect the changing needs of children, young people and families in Devon, and to make sure they receive the right support, at the right time and in the right place.

We have a Short Breaks Project Team working on this and, the following priorities were confirmed to guide this work.

  • We want children and families to have greater choice and control over the support that they receive as this works best for them.
  • We will focus on the strengths that all families have and engage in different conversations which help us jointly identify what support will make the most difference.

In March 2022, in co-production with Parent Carer Forum Devon, and based on the feedback obtained from children and young people, parent carers, professionals and providers, we developed a set of short break commissioning intentions to reflect our ambitions for our short break re-design. We:

  • will work to remove barriers for disabled children accessing their community and support them through the universal offer.
  • want families to have access to clear information and advice to support children and young people with disabilities to access age and ability-appropriate inclusive play, activities and social opportunities.
  • will develop the short breaks provider market to ensure families can access personalised support to match their needs through flexible and responsive provision at the right time and close to where they live.
  • will ensure short breaks providers offer high-quality services that are safe and welcoming.
  • will build strong relationships and adaptable approaches between commissioners, children and young people, their families, communities and short break providers to enable us to work together in a way that makes a difference
  • want a short breaks offer that will support young people to have experiences that support a positive future, access training and enable them to access employment
  • will use good quality data and intelligence to inform our commissioning to ensure we are matching services to need
  • will regularly co-ordinate a review and update of the short breaks statement and the local offer in co-production in line with statutory guidance to ensure it remains relevant

To enable the continuous development of new services and ideas to support children and young people with SEND and their families, Devon County Council delivers an annual small grants scheme in partnership with the Parent Carer Forum Devon.

The scheme offers community, voluntary and parent-led organisations the opportunity to apply for up to £5,000 to support children and young people (0-18) with SEND to access their local community and take part in activities alongside their friends.

We will continue to work together with Parent Carer Forum Devon alongside our short breaks providers through our short breaks provider forum, enabling the voice of families to work together with providers as we develop our current offer, and as we move forwards with recommissioning short breaks services.

Providers wishing to become involved in our short breaks forum can contact us at childrenscommissioningsecure-mailbox@devon.gov.uk.

We are listening – continuous participation and engagement

We are committed through our work with Parent Carer Forum Devon to ensuring that we continue our co-production and engagement with families to shape the short breaks offer for families in Devon and build upon the engagement sessions held back in 2020 prior to COVID-19.

We have established regular Parent Carer coffee mornings and evening online sessions,  as one way to meet with families directly to share updates on this work, and hear about families’ experiences and ideas. We are also using our learning during the COVID-19 impact, to inform the recommissioning work of short breaks

More details, including what children, parents and carers have told us so far, can be found on our short breaks co-design webpage.

Parents and carers can also help shape the future of services by continuing to share their experiences, comments and feedback at sendlocaloffer@devon.gov.uk.

Parent Carer Forum Devon helps us to have regular conversations with parents and carers about services and support for children and young people with SEND. Find out more about how we work together.

Get in touch

To keep up-to-date with news and information about our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Local Offer like our page on Facebookfollow us on Twitter or sign up to receive our SEND newsletter.

For more information on our vision for children and young people in Devon please see the Devon Children and Families Partnership Children and Young People’s Plan and our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Strategy.

For more information about discounts you can gain through our Max Card and for more information about services and co-design opportunities please sign up to our Disability Network.

You can contact the Parent Carer Forum Devon using their website, or alternatively, email admin@parentcarerforumdevon.org or request to join their Facebook group.


This statement was last updated in September 2022.


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