Charities launch compendium to improve short break services for disabled children


UK charities working together as the Short Breaks Partnership have launched a unique compendium of guides, videos and e-learning tools to help parents, local authorities, service providers and commissioners work together to improve local short breaks (respite) services

The Short Breaks Partnership – Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children, Action for Children and KIDS – has worked with Parent Carer Forums in 152 local authority areas, over 120 short breaks service providers and commissioners and around 1,000 young people to produce a wide range of resources including:

  • Factsheets to help parent carers understand the legal duties around short breaks services.
  • e-learning resources for parent carers, commissioners and providers.
  • Bespoke toolkits to help Parent Carer Forums and service providers check, measure and plan effective short breaks provision in their areas.
  • A toolkit to support community development to strengthen and build inclusive short break opportunities.
  • A short film made with and for young people, providers and commissioners to demystify and promote the value of short breaks.

Short Breaks services support parent carers to look after their disabled children, giving them the chance to recharge their batteries or spend time with their other children. They give disabled children and young people opportunities their non-disabled peers take for granted like trying new experiences and making new friends. They can be provided by councils, health services or private, voluntary and community sector organisations and can include day-time or overnight care, leisure activities, or services to assist parent carers in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays.

Gethyn Williams, Director of Development and Engagement at Contact a Family said:

By joining forces through the Short Breaks Partnership we have been able to take a holistic approach to improving short breaks services. The resources we’ve produced aim to help support co-production between commissioners, practitioners, children, young people and their families and service providers – going beyond ‘participation’ or ‘engagement’ and reflecting a true partnership. Adopting this way of working together from the start – when planning, developing, implementing or reviewing short breaks and community-based activities, can lead to real cultural change and make an enormous difference on the ground and help improve the provision of short breaks services across the country.

The work of the Short Breaks Partnership is funded under a one-year grant agreement from the Department for Education, expiring on the 31 March 2016, building on the work of the Short Breaks Network which disbanded in March 2015.

Each of the four members of the partnership has worked with different groups to support and improve short breaks provision:

Contact a Family is offering resources and additional support to parent carer forums. Those resources are available here.

Action for Children has worked with providers, commissioners, young people and families and developed resources primarily for providers. Those resources are available here.

KIDS has worked with young people to increase awareness of and access to short breaks. Those resources are available here.

In addition KIDS hosts the e-learning resources produced by other partners on their dedicated platform. Providers, Commissioners and Parent Carer Forums wishing to access these will find them here. Create a free account and access the modules under Free Modules/Short Breaks Partnership Modules.

Council for Disabled Children have produced resources to help support local authorities and health services commission services. Those resources are available here.


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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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