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More funding for short breaks for disabled children

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Thousands more families with children with special needs will receive financial support for short breaks and activities from a government scheme.

The Short Breaks Innovation Fund gives disabled children a chance to take part in unforgettable activities and develop vitals skills, while giving their families a break from their caring responsibilities. Activities include theatre trips, hiking and craft workshops.

The Government funded programme provides councils with up to £1m each for a year. The cash is used to work with families to develop innovative experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible to children because of their disability, as well as covering the costs of providing the activities.

The new funding means the scheme can be expanded to 10 new areas of the country.

Claire Coutinho, minister for children, families and wellbeing, said: “Short breaks provide much-needed support to disabled children and their families. They give children opportunities to make friends, learn something new and work towards greater independence, while allowing parents the all-important time they need to recharge.

“We’ve already seen the transformative impact these new approaches to short breaks are having on children and their families, and I am looking forward to continuing this work, extending it to more parts of the country so even more children can benefit.”

The plans come following the recent publication of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan, which outlines the government’s plan to transform the experiences and outcomes of children with special needs and disabilities.

The Short Breaks Innovation Fund is delivering a total of £30m over three years to local authorities to deliver the short breaks and test new approaches to providing essential support for parents of children with disabilities.

Methods already being piloted include creating a transition group for children with special educational needs to develop independent living skills through group activities. Other activities being piloted include sleep-over clubs and film-making workshops to build teamworking skills.

Council areas receiving funding

The local authorities which will receive new funding this year as part of the second year of the programme are:

  • Bristol City Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Camden Council
  • Derby City Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Nottingham City
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Southwark Council
  • Suffolk County Council
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Surrey County Council
  • Wakefield Council

Dame Christine Lenehan, director of Council for Disabled Children, said: “I am delighted with the government’s recognition of the value of short breaks to both disabled children and their families. We have seen some really exciting developments in Year 1 of the programme and look forward to seeing what these 10 authorities can deliver.

“We are keen that the transferrable learning from these innovative projects is shared as widely as possible to ensure children and young people across the country can benefit.”