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Short breaks service statement for families with disabled children in Buckinghamshire

The three levels of short breaks

Universal short breaks (all ages)

These are everyday community services that anyone can use without an assessment.

Examples of universal services include

  • youth clubs
  • after school activities
  • uniformed groups (for example, Cubs, Brownies)
  • leisure centres
  • day nurseries
  • childminders
  • activity based groups

Wherever possible, universal activities should be accessible to disabled children and young people. They should form part of a child’s valuable experiences as they grow up.

Information about universal services is available as part of our SEND local offer which can be found on the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service website and for support to access universal services.

To support access to universal services, we will:

  • work with service providers to make sure they publish good quality information. This should include information about accessibility and how they will support access for disabled children
  • provide parent led disability awareness and inclusion training. This will be available to any universal service provider
  • support families to enable access to universal services. This may be through giving them information. It may also be through additional support where assessment has said this is needed
  • continue to provide the Childcare and Early Education Brokerage Service. This supports families who wish to use childcare as a short breaks service. They help them to find high quality, up to date information and support to access suitable provision

Targeted short breaks (0 to 19 years)

These are specific short break activities for disabled children. Referrals can be made by professionals working with the family. Families can also refer themselves.

Targeted short breaks are not always funded or commissioned by the council. They may be provided in the evenings, weekends and school holidays. These services are for disabled children and young people who cannot access universal services without needing additional support.

For targeted short breaks provided by the council, parents will be asked to provide evidence of the child’s eligibility.

This may be any of the following:

  • award of middle or higher rate care component or higher rate mobility component DLA
  • award of any rate PIP daily living component or enhanced rate mobility component
  • finalised education, health and care (EHC) plan that includes evidence of disability within eligibility criteria
  • letter, report or other documents which confirms child’s disability provided by social care or a social worker, school or college or health professional

If the child is eligible parents will be asked to complete a support questionnaire, so we can target the service to those in the highest need. If there is more than one disabled child in a family this will be taken into account.

If your child is open to children’s social care additional information may be needed alongside the support questionnaire.

The support questionnaire will help the service determine which level of targeted short breaks will be offered as follows:

  • the support questionnaire will help identify which children and young people would achieve better outcomes from attending universal services. The service will then signpost families, offer short term transitional support or provide longer term support through a volunteer ‘buddy’ for those children and young people to access universal services of their choice
  • the support questionnaire will help identify which children and young people will be offered the ‘standard’ offer of targeted service: 36 hours per year
  • the support questionnaire will help identify which children and young people will be offered the ‘higher’ offer of targeted service: 90 hours per year

Families will be able to use the service appeals process if they don’t agree with their child’s targeted offer.

See Appendix: Action for Children Buckinghamshire targeted short breaks appeals process at the end of this service statement.

The support questionnaire will be subject to regular review.

Targeted services will work with families to ensure they understand and can meet the individual needs of their child. As part of this they will ask for a registration form to be completed annually (unless needs change sooner) which details the support needs of your child and professionals including children’s social care involved in your child’s care.

You will be asked if you give your permission for the service to contact those professionals (if required to better understand support needs).

The targeted offer will be managed by Action for Children who are funded by the council and Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver this service. Information on the activities on offer can be found on their Bucks Activity Project website.

The website will enable families to register their child online, complete the support questionnaire and as it develops fully manage their bookings, activity fee payments and targeted hours offer online.

Action for Children will be working with a range of other short break providers so that a more varied short breaks activity programme can be delivered across the county. Families will be able to use their allocated targeted offer hours flexibly across the range of provision on offer.

Action for Children will be working with universal activities to make them easier to access by disabled children and young people. They will also be providing signposting, short term support and longer term ‘buddy’ support as required for children and young people to access these services.

Specialist short breaks

These are designed to meet the need of an individual child and their carers following a social care assessment (child and family assessment).

Specialist short breaks are highly specialised or bespoke services. They are available to children, young people and carers with multiple, complex needs – who are managing in challenging circumstances. They can be daytime or overnight services, or a service paid for by direct payment.

The assessment will be carried out by a social worker. The assessment will look carefully at:

  • the child’s needs
  • the parents’ or carers’ specific needs
  • any parenting issues
  • the wider family circumstances
  • the environment.

The social worker will also gather relevant information from other professionals involved with your child, such as a doctor, community nurse, occupational therapist or teacher.

The assessment is written into a support plan which outlines the services and short breaks that may be appropriate to be provided and how this will meet the child’s or families’ needs and identified outcomes.

All plans are reviewed regularly to make sure they respond to the changing needs of the child and family.

Eligibility criteria for universal short breaks

There is no eligibility criteria for accessing universal short breaks. These are services open to all children and young people of any age.

Eligibility criteria for targeted short breaks

The following outcomes are taken into consideration in the support questionnaire for targeted short breaks.

Parents or carers will be asked to complete the support questionnaire for their child.

What outcomes are considered?

Physical and emotional wellbeing of the child:

  • to be fit and healthy (physical health including personal care, drinking and eating)
  • to be able to express their feelings
  • to be able to travel safely and use public transport/private transport (children over 11)
  • to be able to communicate well
  • how a child behaves

Environmental factors:

  • to join in with activities with other children (children over 5)
  • to learn the skills I need to be as confident and independent as I can be (children over 5)
  • to have a circle of friends

Keeping children safe:

  • to be safe at home with immediate family
  • to be safe in their community

Family life:

  • there is time for everyone in the family to enjoy life and pursue the things that matter to them
  • parents or carers get a good night’s sleep. Parents or carers get the support they need from friends, neighbours and extended family


  • to have friendships
  • to have a circle of friendships
  • spending time with friends out of school

Confidence and self esteem:

  • to be relaxed and happy
  • to be confident to try new activities

Education and learning:

  • attending school and education
  • attending activities and clubs
  • support needed

How is need and allocation of targeted offer considered?

Action for Children will review the completed support questionnaire to consider how much support is needed to achieve each of the outcomes.

  • no additional support
  • A little support
  • some support
  • lots of support
  • exceptional support

This will determine which level of short breaks are needed (universal, standard or higher targeted offer).

  • no additional support or a little support is needed: signposting or support to access universal services will usually be offered
  • some support: standard targeted offer for short breaks will usually be offered
  • lots of support to exceptional support is needed: higher targeted offer will usually be offered

Once the offer has been agreed, the provider will work with families to look at the different short break options on offer for that level.

The support questionnaire can be completed on an annual basis, or more frequently if required. This means that if your level of need changes, we can make changes to your short breaks.

Some children and young people may also be accessing specialist short breaks in addition to their offer above.

Eligibility criteria for specialist short breaks

A child and family assessment is undertaken by a children’s social worker. This statutory assessment determines if additional help and support is required by a child and their family. This may include specialist short breaks in addition to their targeted short break offer.

The following outcomes are taken into consideration in the assessment for specialist short breaks

What outcomes are considered?

  • children’s developmental needs
  • the capacity of parents and carers to respond appropriately to these needs
  • the impact of wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity and children

How is need assessed?

The level of need is assessed against the factors set out in the assessment framework triangle diagram, which can be seen on page 30 of the government document Working Together to Safeguard Children.

This will determine if the need meets the statutory threshold for services to be provided (disabled children are entitled to an assessment of need but this does not mean they will meet the threshold for statutory services).

You can read The Continuum of Need Incorporating Threshold Guidance. This was previously called Safeguarding Children’s Threshold.

Once the level of any eligible need has been assessed the social worker will work with family to decide how that eligible need will be met.

If this includes short breaks, they will look at the different specialist short break options on offer that would meet the assessed need. They will also agree from that assessment the outcomes required and the amount of short breaks that will be provided to achieve those outcomes or meet the assessed need.

Access to some specialist short breaks such as residential short breaks are also subject to a children’s social care resource panel to ensure the right resource is being considered to meet the stated assessed need.

How is a child and family assessment carried out?

  • are child centred. Where there is a conflict of interest, decisions should be made in the child's best interests; be rooted in child development; be age appropriate; and be informed by evidence
  • Are focused on action and outcomes for children
  • are holistic in approach, addressing the child's needs within their family and any risks the child faces from within the wider community
  • ensure equality of opportunity
  • involve children, ensuring that their voice is heard and provide appropriate support to enable this where the child has specific communication needs
  • involve families
  • identify risks to the safety and welfare of children
  • build on strengths as well as identifying difficulties
  • are integrated in approach
  • are multi agency and multi disciplinary
  • are a continuing process, not an event
  • lead to action, including the provision of services
  • review services provided on an ongoing basis
  • are transparent and open to challenge


The assessment will be reviewed regularly. This means that if your level of need changes, we can make changes to your short breaks.

Types of short breaks summary

Search for short breaks at all levels on the SEND local offer.



  • no assessment needed
  • family makes self referral
  • services can be contacted directly
  • family may be signposted or supported to access services by other professionals they are working with as part of the Buckinghamshire early help offer


  • Cubs, Brownies, Cadets
  • after school or leisure clubs
  • family activity days
  • group based activity


Families pay any cost of the service



  • referral to services can be made by a professional or families can refer themselves
  • there will be a support questionnaire to ensure that the right support can be provided


  • specialist holiday play schemes for children with disabilities
  • Sports or activity based clubs for children with disabilities


  • for services provided by the voluntary or community sector, if there is a cost families will pay
  • for services provided by the council, families will pay an activity fee. Reduced rates are available for those who cannot afford these



Child and Family Assessment completed by a Social Worker.

  • parents and carers are invited to complete a carer’s assessment about their own caring needs.
  • overnight short breaks will be considered if assessment shows that parents or carers:
    - do not get a good night’s sleep due to caring responsibilities
    - do not have support from friends, neighbours or family that allows them to have a regular short break


  • direct payments or personal budgets
  • domiciliary care
  • community childminding
  • fostering short breaks
  • overnight stays in residential units


  • direct payments and personal health budgets are awarded based on an assessment of need
  • specialist residential short breaks are paid for by the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group and other specialist short breaks are paid for by the local authority and in some cases the Clinical Commissioning Group
  • families may be asked to pay activity fees. Reduced rates are available for those who cannot afford these