This is a statement about how Dorset Council assists in providing short breaks to children and young people who are disabled, and their families.

June 2021

What the short breaks service statement is

All local authorities have to share a statement for carers about short breaks. This statement tells carers:

  • what range of services is available
  • who can use these services
  • how these services are designed to meet the needs of the carers

Our statement has to be:

  • prepared with regard to the views of local carers
  • published on our website
  • kept under review and revised as appropriate

We will co-produce a further updated statement with the Dorset Parent Carer Council (DPCC) and we will review this statement every year.

What a short break is

A short break is when a child or young person who is disabled spends supported time apart from their main carer.

Short breaks help parents and carers to continue to provide the care their child needs.

Short break activities take place outside of school hours during:

  • daytime
  • evenings
  • weekends
  • school holidays

Short breaks can last from a few hours to full days and even overnight.

Short breaks can include:

  • group activities
  • holiday play schemes
  • sports, arts or music activiies
  • one to one support

Short breaks give the young person the opportunity to:

  • take part in activities
  • form friendships
  • become more independent
  • enjoy themselves

Their family benefits from a break from the demands of caring for their child. This means carers can relax, spend time with each other and/or their other children.

Who can use short breaks

Universal short breaks

Lots of children can have short breaks without any assessment by going to activities and groups that are open to everyone. These are universal short breaks.

Many organisations welcome children and young people with a range of abilities. Universal short breaks include local activity groups and holiday clubs. 

You can use the Family Information Directory to find out more about what's on in your area.

Targeted short breaks

Targeted short breaks are for children and young people who are disabled and who cannot use universal services. A child is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

You do not need to have an assessment to use targeted short breaks.

Targeted short breaks include groups and activities where there is extra support or special facilities for children and young people. You must meet the short break provider's criteria for the activities as they are based on the level of support your child needs.

Find out more about what's in your area on our Family Information Directory and the Xchange.

We, as Dorset Council, help to pay for some activities to make sure that targeted short breaks are available for children who need them. This means that the cost to join these activities is usually only:

  • £6 for a half day activity
  • £12 for a full day activity

Specialist short breaks

Specialist short breaks are for children and young people who are disabled and have had an assessment that identifies that they need them. An assessment helps professionals to understand what works well for a child and their family, as well as where extra support would be helpful.

A family worker or social worker from the Children Who Are Disabled (CWAD) team will do the assessment.

Specialist short breaks include short break opportunities with high levels of support for complex needs. This includes Direct Payments for:

  • individual support
  • activities with specialist support
  • overnight stays

Find out more about short breaks in Dorset

These services may have more information to help you and your family:

The Xchange

The Xchange is a news and information network for Dorset families with children who are disabled or have additional needs.

When you join the Xchange your application automatically provides the details we need to keep a record of children who are disabled in the area. This is a government requirement. 

When you register with the Xchange your child will get a Dorset Max Card and you as their parent or carer will get a Carer's Card; both of these cards provide discounts and benefits. 

Find out more about the Dorset Max Card.

Family Information Service

Our Family Information Service is a free, impartial information service for parents and carers of children and young people up to the age of 19, or up to the age of 25 for children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND). You can use it to search for things to do in your area, as well as finding out useful information and advice.

Search our Family Information Directory to find short breaks in your area, plus contact and booking details. 

What some of our short breaks in Dorset look like

Our Dorset Outdoor Education Service now provides short breaks. This is a great addition to our short breaks offer during Covid-19 as the activities are based outdoors and there's lots of space. Activities so far have included:

  • nature walks
  • environmental art
  • campfire fun
  • weaving
  • rope making
  • building
  • pottery
  • climbing
  • indoor caves
  • archery
  • escape rooms

There's lots more going on with different options and activities; find out more about short breaks.

How we (Dorset Council) help with short break availability

We have a short breaks framework that organisations can ask to be part of each year. The organisations in this framework must meet a set of standards and have regular contract review meetings. The framework has 2 categories:

  • targeted short breaks
  • specialist short breaks

The organisations on the targeted short breaks framework take part in a mini competition each year. They tell us about the short breaks they want to provide and a panel considers all the information to help decide how to share the funding. To help us do this we ask a representative from the Dorset Parent Carer Council (DPCC) to be on the panel. 

To make sure there's a variety of short breaks on offer we consider:

  • the type of short break
  • the location
  • the age range
  • which children would be able to use the short break

We also keep some funds available throughout the year that can be used for short term short break projects by organisations already on the framework.

What we're doing to get short breaks right for children and their families

We held a short breaks survey in 2019 to hear directly from families, children and young people. The survey tells us about how short breaks are working for families to help us plan future short breaks. The main things families wanted were:

  • more and cheaper short breaks, offering more spaces to attend
  • more information about short breaks across Dorset
  • better communication about the range of available short breaks
  • less travel to a short break as the travel itself is difficult

We know we need more of some types of short break. We told organisations during the 2020 mini-competition that consultations have identified 3 areas where Dorset needs to offer more. These were:

  • buddy schemes; where a trained support worker can go with a young person or group to help them enjoy being out and about safely
  • sessional support; where a support worker can provide individual help for a young person with complex needs who cannot easily join in group activities or get out and about on their own
  • short breaks for young people aged 16 or 18 to 25; this is a piece of work that needs to be done jointly with Adult Services and we're still working on this

Working with other organisations

We have taken part in a national conversation about short breaks with the Council for Disabled Children's Community of Practice. This explored how we can work together through a peer support model to develop and share learning and good practice in relation to community-based family support, which improves outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families.

We're also linking up with other local authorities to share good practice and knowledge.

Dorset Max Card

The Dorset Max Card is a discount and benefits card for children and young people with SEND who live in the Dorset Council area. The Max Card gives the owner and one other person (parent or carer) free or discounted access or benefits at a range of places across Dorset, including:

  • leisure activities
  • shops and cafes
  • country parks
  • museums and galleries
  • lots of different organisations

Find out more about the Dorset Max Card.

Dorset Short Breaks Care Passport

The Dorset Short Breaks Care Passport is an online form for parents to use to tell providers (the organisation that looks after your child) about their child and their particular needs.

We email you the Dorset Short Breaks Care Passport so that you can share it with activity providers who support your child. You can update the Short Breaks Care Passport at any time to make sure providers know about any changes they need to make for your child.

Carer Support Dorset

Carer Support Dorset works to support all carers. They can help with access to services and information to:

  • make the caring role easier, including support
  • provide information and advice
  • keep you up to date with the support services on offer

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