Shropshire Council

Views sought on short breaks services

01 May 2024 Last updated at 07:59

Families and professionals in Shropshire are being asked to share their views by taking part in a survey on Short Breaks services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Library image of woman and young girl painting: Credit Mikhail Nilov, Pexels images

Short breaks (previously known as respite) enable children to have fun and take part in activities and social opportunities whilst giving parents carers some time away from their caring responsibilities. Short breaks can include activities such as sports, arts, music, trips, clubs, and overnight stays. It also provides children and young people to do activities that will help prepare them for adulthood.

The survey has been designed in partnership with Parent and Carer Council Shropshire (PACC) to collect the views and experiences of families of children and young people with disabilities and find out how they may benefit (or have benefitted in the past) from short breaks provision, what works well, what could be improved, and what SEND families would like to see in the future.

There are 3 different versions of the survey for parent carers, children and young people, as well as professionals, to ensure that everyone has a chance to have their say.

The feedback from the survey will help the council to plan and commission short breaks provision that meets the needs and preferences of SEND families, and builds on previous discussions with families of disabled children and young people about the Shropshire Short Breaks Offer.

Shropshire Council funds a range of Short Breaks services for children and young people up to 18 years with disabilities or additional needs living in Shropshire.  The local authority currently commissions three Short Breaks services: assessed overnight Short Breaks at Bradbury House, community-based short breaks provided by ‘Action for Children’, and the targeted (non-assessed) Short Breaks offer known as ‘All In’.

As part of the council’s new ways of recommissioning services, the council has aligned the contracts for all three services, so that they all finish on 31 March 2025, this will enable the council to undertake a comprehensive review of the service and understand how the different levels of service can interact and support each other. This will result in a more integrated and effective Short Break service for children and young people with SEND and their families.

To ensure the recommissioned service meets the needs of SEND families, the council has and continues to engage with SEND families and other stakeholders as part of the recommissioning process. This will ensure that the tenders for these contracts are informed by what SEND families say they would like the Shropshire Short Breaks offer to look like.

Councillor Kirstie Hurst-Knight, cabinet member for children and education said:

“We recognise the importance of Short Breaks for children and young people with SEND and their families, and we want to ensure that we provide a high-quality and sustainable service that meets their needs and preferences.

“By aligning the contracts for the three Short Breaks services, we will be able to review the full Short Break offer, and how it can be improved and integrated.

“The feedback from our survey will help us to understand what works well and any areas for improvement. It will help to determine if the right types of short breaks are on offer and what impact they have on those who use them. The survey should also help to identify what parents would like to see in the future and influence the way Shropshire Council commissions and funds short breaks provision.

“The council is also working closely with PACC, the parent carer forum, to ensure that the recommissioning process is informed by the views and experiences of SEND families.”

“We are keen to hear from families who use or may benefit from short breaks services, and I want to encourage everyone to get involved and have your say.”

To take part in the survey visit Short breaks | Shropshire Council

The survey is open from Wednesday 1 May for 6 weeks and closes on Wednesday 12 June.

Further Information - About short breaks

Short breaks may be after school, at weekends, during school holidays or overnight. Activities could range from drama, sports, clubs and social activities to a stay with a short break foster carer or in a residential home. Short breaks can also include support at home.

  • Universal activities available to all children, such as sports clubs, after school clubs etc
  • Targeted short breaks are activities specially designed for children and young people with disabilities. They help children who are not able to take part in universal activities without additional support. They are currently provided through the All In Programme, delivered by Actio on behalf of Shropshire Council.
  • Specialist short breaks are activities for children and young people with the most complex needs. They need to have a social work assessment to be able to take part in these activities and include overnight short breaks.

Shropshire's All In Programme provide a range of opportunities for children and young people with disabilities. All In short breaks are available for those up to their 18th birthday who cannot take part in the same activities as others their age without additional support.