Enabling children and young people with a disability or complex health need, to access services and activities that will enhance their life experiences; whilst offering a break to families/carers.

What are Short Breaks?

Short Breaks allow families of disabled children to take a break from their caring responsibilities whilst being reassured that their child is safe and enjoying new and positive experiences.

They can last from a few hours to a few days; taking place during the day or evening, overnight or at weekends. They may take place in your home, a carer’s home, in a residential setting or elsewhere in the community.

In addition to giving families a much needed rest, the break also allows children and young people to take part in family or community-based activities, make new friends, gain independence and broaden their horizons.

Eligibility Criteria

The Short Breaks service is for children and young people, aged 0-18 years, who:

  • The child/young person will have Special Educational Needs and/or Disability regardless of whether the child/young person has a SEN Support Plan or an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) issued by the Local Authority.  
  • Children and young people where Local Offer Activities has been considered and found not to be suitable or easily accessed due to the child/young person’s needs. There is an expectation that families will have accessed Local Offer Groups and TIE activities before a Short Breaks application will be progressed: Local Offer Activities
  • Young person in receipt of middle or high rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for at least one component (i.e. care or mobility)
  • Needs of the whole family have been assessed by a named Lead Professional using the Early Help Assessment (EHA) or Social Care Child and Family Assessment (C&F), which identifies the need for targeted Short Breaks support.

Please note that all of the above criteria must be met.

A child who is in foster care or residing full-time in a residential school is not eligible for Short Breaks.

Applying for Short Breaks

If your child meets the eligibility criteria for a Short Break then you can contact our Early Help Hub who will carry out a Short Breaks Assessment. The team will ask you some initial questions to understand yours and your family’s current situation. This is called an “Early Help Assessment”. This may lead to a referral to the Short Breaks team. You can contact the Early Help Hub on 01302 743110.

You will be invited to meet with a Short Breaks Assessment Officer (usually at your home) to discuss your child’s needs further, and for a “Short Breaks Needs Based Assessment” to take place. You will have the opportunity to put your views forward on what support your child needs and this will be taken into account at all stages in the decision making process.

The information gathered from the assessment will be shared with the SEND Short Breaks Panel, who will look at your child’s individual circumstances and determine what support can be offered. We will contact you in writing to let you know the decision made at the Panel.

What happens next

If you’re granted Short Breaks support

A Short Breaks Assessment Officer will explain to you what our service is able to offer your family. This will be based on the needs of your child. There are two options for you to consider:

  1. Take a direct payment to enable you to purchase appropriate services for your child directly.
  2. Ask Doncaster Council to appoint a provider of suitable services for your child on your behalf.

If you choose to take a direct payment

The direct payment will allow you, as a parent or carer, to employ someone to work with your child to provide a short break. You may choose to employ someone within your circle of friends or family or from your child’s school but they must not live in the same household as your child or have parental responsibility for your child. Our team will support you with this process and advise you of a local company who can help with recruitment advertising if needed.

The Short Breaks Team will make a referral to a payroll management company when a support package has been agreed. This company will assist you to complete paperwork to set up the payroll, complete DBS request for your chosen worker and put Employer Liability Insurance in place. It is your responsibility to ensure time sheets are sent to the company to ensure your direct payment worker is paid.

If you’re not granted Short Breaks support

We understand that this can be a disappointment and we will give you a reason for why Short Breaks support wasn’t offered on this occasion.

If you disagree with the decision made, you can write to the Short Breaks Lead who will present your views to the panel. If you disagree with the panel decision you may make a complaint through the Doncaster Council complaints procedure.

The Local Offer

There are services available to support all children and young people with complex needs in Doncaster. This is known as the ‘Local Offer’. To access the Local Offer, families do not need to have an assessment, but must be registered with Together Information Exchange (TIE), which is Doncaster’s voluntary register of children and young people with a disability.

Families who register with TIE receive:

  • Access to the school holiday activity timetable  and out of school clubs funded by the Short Breaks service: Local Offer Activities
  • A free TIE membership card to receive discounts at various places including Yorkshire Wildlife Park, The Dome Leisure Centre, Vue Cinema and many more
  • Regular information and updates about events and activities taking place

The Holiday Activity Timetable

Short Breaks produces an activity timetable for every school holiday to offer extra support to parents and carers. The timetable includes a variety of activities such as arts and crafts and sports sessions as well as family activities such as ice skating. The timetable is published on the TIE webpage and shared on the Local Offer Facebook page. It is also emailed to all TIE members (where an email address is available).


If you would like further information regarding Short Breaks, please contact: 

Cheryl Wallace - Short Breaks Lead


Local Offer Homepage

Last updated: 19 December 2023 08:41:23

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