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For guidance on coronavirus and the latest information for Devon, visit Devon County Council’s coronavirus (COVID-19) advice pages.

Latest Update: Colleges, schools and childcare settings during the national lockdown

Short breaks statement


The impact of COVID-19

The short breaks provision usually available to families in Devon has been impacted by the government’s COVID-19 restrictions. Our Disabled Children’s Service is working with families who are unable to access their usual support to find alternative solutions. This may be achieved using direct payments.

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:

  • What are short breaks?
  • Who are they for?
  • How do we access them?
  • What’s planned for the future?

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 make and meet 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 of Brownies), this might be through support from workers often called enablers. This could be for a limited time to help a child join in 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 them to take a break from their caring role.

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.

Over-night short breaks

For some families, an overnight short break offers short-term care for children and young people with significant disabilities or a serious health condition. They form part of a support package based on the particular needs of individual children and their families and could be provided by a foster carer, registered children’s home (for short breaks) or an additional carer within the family home.

Who are they for?

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 complete assessments of the needs of disabled children and their families to ascertain whether they are eligible for short breaks. Not all children will be assessed for short break services. The Disabled Children’s Service have an eligibility criteria for assessment which can be found here. If a child is not eligible for an assessment by the Disabled Children’s Service, their needs can be assessed and supported by Early Help.

Information about Early Help assessment and support can be found on the Devon Children and Families Partnership website.

How do we access them?

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.

If your child is eligible for an assessment this will look at what support your child needs, they will 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 or young person
  • Your strengths and needs as their parent/ carer(s)
  • Strengths and needs of your wider family, including your disabled child or young person’s siblings

Referrals are made through Children & Family Health Devon’s Single Point of Access Team. You can contact them by phone on 03300 245 321 or by emailing

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.

What’s planned for the future?

The way health and social care services are delivered to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (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 want children and families to have greater choice and control over the support they receive as this works best for them, so we need to improve the information about what short breaks are available locally and how disabled children and their parents and carers can access them. 

We must focus on the strengths that all families have and engage in different conversations which help us jointly identify what support will make most difference.

We will strengthen our approach to ensure we provide the right support earlier and at the right place and time for children, young people and their families. This will mean there is the most efficient and fair use of the resources that we have.

We need to ensure there is a comprehensive offer of support which is responsive, flexible and accessible to children, young people and their families within their own communities wherever possible.

We are listening – continuous participation and engagement

We’re currently reviewing our short breaks offer to make sure the service really works for children, young people and families in Devon. We’re speaking to families to understand what support they get now, find out what they think works well and find out more about their ideas on how things could be improved.

More details, including what children, parents and carers have told us so far, can be found on our website here.

Parents and carers can also help shape the future of services by continuing to share their experiences, comments and feedback via

The Devon Parent Carer Forum help us to have regular conversations with parents and carers about services and support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  Find out more on the Devon SEND Local Offer website  including how you can get involved.

The Devon SEND Local Offer website aims to bring useful information together into one place for families in Devon. It aims to help families to understand what education, health and social care services and support are available to a child or young person aged 0-25 years old with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Devon.

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.

The Disabled Children’s Service has also launched a new e-bulletin. Sign up to receive the e-bulletin here.

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, email or request to join their Facebook group.