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Sometimes families who have disabled children and/or health
conditions benefit from a break from their caring
responsibilities. Local authorities now have duties to provide
short break services and make clear how families can access
Taking a break from caring for your child is not an admission of
failure or a way of saying you don't care. A break is an
opportunity to recharge batteries, spend time with others or pursue
a particular interest. Short breaks may also allow your child to
have a change of scene, try different experiences, have fun and
Short breaks can include:
Speak to your local authority about getting short breaks
services. The main route involves undergoing an assessment
of your child and family's needs by social services (but see
below for information about universal short breaks).
To see what short breaks may be available, you can try
contacting your local
Family Information Service or use SENDirect to search for
short breaks in your area.
Families in Scotland can search for services at Shared Care
Scotland, the national third sector organisation providing
information on short breaks.
Some short break schemes may be described as 'universal', which
means they are available to all children and you don't need an
assessment to access them. Eligibility criteria for universal short
breaks must be set fairly. Speak to your local authority to see if
they offer universal short breaks.
In England we're supporting parent carer forums that
are working with their local authority, commissioners and providers
to improve short breaks provision in the local area. This involves
providing forums with case studies and resources to support their
Find out more about how we're improving short
This information was written by our invaluable helpline team.
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