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My Guide to Short Breaks

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These My Guides have been co-produced by Bexley LA and Bexley Voice Parent Carer Forum to help Parents, Carers and Young People understand their service and what should be expected.

The Guides are written specifically to answer the questions most commonly asked by Parents, Carers and Young People and are written using as little jargon as possible.



My Guide to Short Breaks provided by the Bexley Children with Disabilities Service

Q1. What is a Short Break?

Short Breaks provide opportunities for disabled children and young people to spend time away from their primary carers. Short Breaks can take place during the day, evening, overnight, at the weekend or during the school holidays. Short Break activities might happen in a child’s own home, the home of an approved carer, a residential or a community setting.



Q2. Who are Short Breaks for?

Short Breaks are available to ALL children and young people who:


  • have a Special Educational Need and / or Disability
  • are aged 0 – 18 years old
  • ordinarily reside in Bexley


Q3. What do we mean by Disability?

The London Borough of Bexley applies The Equality Act 2010 definition of a Disability: “A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day to day activities”


Q4. What types of Short Break service are available in Bexley and how are they accessed?

Short Breaks can be described in the following three categories;

  • Universal Short Breaks
  • Targeted Short Breaks
  • Specialist Short Breaks

Some children will access a mixture of services. Some children will be able to access Universal Short Break services with or without support. Some of these will be Specialist Services provided through an assessment and some will be accessed through Targeted activities commissioned from voluntary or independent providers.

Universal Short Breaks

Universal Services offer Short Breaks opportunities that are open to all children and young people in Bexley who choose to use them whether or not they have a Special Educational Need or Disability. These may include libraries, youth clubs, Children’s Centres, leisure centres, Scouts, Brownies, after school clubs and sport’s groups.


Many Universal Services advertise their activities locally. All Universal Services are expected to make reasonable adjustments so that children with disabilities and special educational needs can be included. You can access Universal Services by contacting organisations directly to discuss the activities they offer.

Children’s Centres act as a hub for the local community and provide information and activities for families with children aged 0-5 years. If you need more information concerning children centres in Bexley please follow this link:


For most children universal Short Breaks meet their needs and they do not require Targeted or Specialist Services.

Targeted Short Breaks  


Targeted services provide Short Break opportunities specifically aimed at children and young people with special educational needs and /or disabilities. Some Targeted Services are funded by the London Borough of Bexley while others are provided by voluntary groups and charities. Please note that those services that are not commissioned by the Local Authority may carry a charge.

To access these activities, we advise parents and carers to contact providers directly for more information. Examples of targeted activities would include horse riding for the disabled, disability sports clubs, targeted youth groups etc.

More information about targeted activities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities such as targeted sports clubs can be found on the Bexley Local Offer: www.bexleylocaloffer.uk 


Specialist Short Breaks

These are services for disabled children with the most complex needs. Specialist Short Breaks are for children, young people and their families where a child/young person’s disability has a substantial and long term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

In order to access a Specialist Short Break, a child or young person will require a Child and Family Assessment from the London Borough of Bexley. The Assessment is usually carried out by a Social Worker from the Children with Disabilities Service.

Eligibility decisions are based on individual need, including to what extent a child or young person’s disability or impairment affects their lives and the lives of those who live with and care for them. However, it is likely that if a child/young person is eligible for specialist Short Break support their disability and/or special educational needs could be described in one or more of the following ways:

  • A significant, permanent and enduring physical disability
  • A significant global learning disability
  • A severe and enduring communication disorder
  • Autism with a significant global development delay and/or challenging behaviour
  • A significant sensory impairment  


To request a child and family assessment in order to access specialist short breaks parents/carers should contact the Screeners Team on 020 3045 5440. This team takes calls from parents, carers and professionals who are requesting support from Children Social Care.

Screeners will ask a few questions about the child’s needs and family circumstances.

They will share this information with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) whose job it is to refer families to the right service.

Full and detailed information about the Specialist Short Breaks assessment process can be found in the London Borough of Bexley Children with Disabilities Short Breaks Statement on the Bexley Local Offer: http://www.bexleylocaloffer.uk/Services/5532

Q5. What is a Direct Payment and how can it be used to pay for Short Breaks?

A Direct Payment is a sum of money paid to a parent / carer on behalf of a child or young person with a disability. Direct Payments can be used to purchase support and Short Breaks and are an alternative to receiving a Commissioned Service, owned or arranged by the London Borough of Bexley.


Families of a child or young person with a disability who have been assessed as eligible for specialist Short Breaks may be offered the opportunity to have a Direct Payment in place of a Commissioned Service. Direct Payments can be used flexibly to purchase Short Breaks from an inclusive setting or by employing a support worker or Personal Assistant as agreed in the child or young person’s Care Plan.

Inspire Community Trust acts as the Local Authority’s broker for Direct Payments and supports families with information and advice about using Direct Payments to purchase Short Breaks and about employing Personal Assistants.

For more information about Inspire Community Trust please visit: http://www.inspirecommunitytrust.org/


Q6. What happens if a child or young person is assessed as not being eligible for a specialist Short Break?

Children / young people and their families who, despite their disability, are assessed as not being eligible for specialist Short Breaks will be signposted to Universal and Targeted Services and any other useful local, regional or national information.



Q7. What help is available with travel to and from Short Breaks?

Transport to access Short Breaks is not provided. Your child may be eligible for a Freedom Pass which is for people with disabilities and gives concessionary travel on most public transport in London. For more information visit: http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/freedom-pass/disabled- persons-freedom-pass

Alternatively, if your child is severely disabled and cannot travel on public transport, you may be eligible for community transport. For more information visit: https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/community-transport

If your child currently receives transport to school organised by the Local Authority but would prefer to travel independently, they may be eligible for Independent Travel Training. This may also support their access to Short Breaks. For more information please visit: http://www.bexleyct.co.uk/traveltraining.php


Q8. What happens when a child turns 18 and transitions into Adult Services?

Preparing young people for adulthood starts during Year 9 (age 14 years).  Social Workers from the Children with Disabilities Service make referrals to the Preparing for Adulthood Team when a young person turns 18.  A Social Worker from the Preparing for Adulthood Team attends the Year 9 Annual Education Review with a Social Worker from the Children with Disabilities Service.

The Social Worker from the Preparing for Adulthood Team will carry out a draft needs led Assessment when the young person is 16 years, to establish if they meet the criteria for continued support and access to specialist Adult Services.


This Assessment is updated when the young person turns 17 years and a Care Package is agreed from Adult Social Care before the young person turns 18 years. If you need to speak with someone in the Preparation for Adulthood Team you can email preparingforadulthoodteam@bexley.gov.uk or call 0208 303 7777.


Q9. What is the Disabled Children’s Register?

All Local Authorities hold a database of children and young people with disabilities living in the borough. This is often referred to as the ‘Disabled Children’s Register’. The purpose of the Register is to record information about children and young people with disabilities and the Short Breaks they access to ensure that Local Authorities are able to forward plan and predict what services they need to commission and make available in the future.

When children and young people with disabilities are assessed as eligible for specialist Short Breaks, families will be asked if they consent for their child’s details to be added to the Disabled Children’s Register. Adding a child or young person’s name to the Register is voluntary, and families will always be asked for their consent before a child’s name is added.


Q10. How does the London Borough of Bexley review Short Break Services?

We will continue to regularly monitor services to ensure that all the Short Breaks we provide make a positive difference to our young people and their families. Our Commissioned Services have been getting regular feedback in the form of feedback forms and the feedback is used to measure the difference we are making and also inform future service provision.

We have a Parental Engagement Meeting once every three months where we meet with parents and get their views about Short Breaks. This helps us to plan what we can do better to support them and their children. We use feedback forms across the Short Breaks service to enable us to better understand the views of those who attend the activities we offer.


Q11. Who can families contact for more information?

Children with Disabilities Service
The Children with Disabilities Service (CWDS) is a specialist team comprising of social workers, social work assistants and an Occupational Therapist. They are responsible for the assessment of children with severe and profound disabilities up to the age of 18 and the provision of information, and the packages of support to meet their assessed needs.

Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA6 7AT
Telephone: 020 3045 3600
Email: CWDSAdmin@bexley.gov.uk

Inspire Community Trust (Inspire)
Inspire provides a range of services for people with physical disabilities and sensory impairments on behalf of the London Borough of Bexley and Bexley NHS CCG. Inspire are commissioned by the London Borough of Bexley to support families with children with disabilities with managing direct payments.

Telephone: 020 3045 5100

Bexley Local Offer
The Bexley Local Authority website providing information about the local services and support for children and young people aged 0-25 with special needs and disabilities. Each summer Bexley Council publishes a ‘Summer Sizzler’ booklet which details events and activities happening across the Borough throughout the summer holidays. Information about universal services can be found on the Bexley council website and on the Bexley Local Offer.

Telephone: 020 3045 5677


Bexley Voice – Parent Carer Forum
Bexley Voice are a voluntary group of parent/carers of children and young people (age 0-25) with special/additional needs and disabilities (SEND) living in the London Borough of Bexley. They provide an opportunity for parent/carers to express their views and input into the planning and delivering of SEND services. Bexley Voice signpost, support and empower families to obtain the best possible care and services.

Email: bexleyvoice@hotmail.co.uk
Telephone: 07512 409936 (term time only)

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