SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 (Schedule 2, paragraph 6(1)(c)), the Council must provide services designed to assist individuals who provide care for disabled children to continue to do so, or do so more effectively, by giving them breaks from caring. More detail on this duty is provided by the Short Breaks Regulations.
The duty from the Act and the Regulations is summarised in the national guidance as:
Local authorities must:
Friendship for All (The Children's Society) - this online resource aims to increase friendships for children who are in foster care or who use short break services.
AMENDMENTIn July 2019, this guidance was updated to reflect current service provision.
The local authority's position in relation to short breaks is set out in the Short Breaks Service Statement. Children requiring overnight short breaks will always be assessed by a social worker for a Section 17 or Section 20 arrangement.
The assessment process will determine the amount of specialised short breaks the child is entitled to. The short break could involve:
All children can access universal services. Some children may require additional support in order to fully participate in those services. Children with the most complex needs may require specialist services.
Disabled children who require additional support can apply to the Short Breaks Panel using the newly developed self –assessment forms. They may also benefit from an assessment of need from their lead professional. This may be through universal services or through more specialist services provided by the local authority or the NHS.
Disabled children are defined for the eligibility criteria as those children and young people aged 0-18 whose daily lives are substantially affected by one or more of the following: hearing impairment, visual impairment, learning disability, physical disability, a chronic/life threatening physical illness, communication disorder (including Autistic Spectrum Condition), consciousness disorder (e.g. epilepsy). Note: substantially affected is identified as lasting more than 6 months.
Disabled children can often access resources from universal services or from community based organisations. Targeted support may be available via a self –assessment process. In some instances an Early Intervention Child and Family Single Assessment may also be required.
The Disabled Children's Team will provide assessments and resources for children with the most complex needs. This includes children and young people who have:
Children may be provided with short breaks under the following legislation:
In situations 1 and 2, the requirements which usually apply to Children Looked After in respect of health assessments and reports, and notification of placements, do not apply.
The legal basis on which services are provided should be clear. The decision to provide a short break under Section 17 or under Section 20 should be informed by the assessment of the child's needs and should take account of parenting capacity and wider family and environmental factors, the wishes and feelings of the child and their parents and the nature of the service to be provided.
The key question to ask in deciding whether to provide the short break provision under Section 17 or Section 20 is how to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child most effectively.
Before making, and when reviewing, a decision about whether to provide accommodation under Section 17 or Section 20, there should be a careful assessment of the child and family's needs that addresses:
It is more likely that the arrangements come within Section 20 where families have limited resources and may have difficulties providing support to their child while they are away from home or monitoring the quality of care.
The child's Assessment may be contained within the self referral form where the trigger for assessment is a request for a short break and this is for relatively low levels of short break provision so that it would fall within the Child in Need criteria.
Nevertheless, sufficient information will be required to ensure key information about the child is identified; the reason for the short break; contact and communication details of the person with Parental Responsibility and their ability to monitor the placement whilst the child is there; the child's health and medical details and provision of urgent medical attention (if required); the child's routines, likes, dislikes and current arrangements for the child, (e.g. School) together with behavioural issues and how these are usually dealt with by the family. There should be opportunities for the short break provider and parent and child to meet and discuss the child's personality, routines, etc.
This information and the arrangements should be reflected in a Review of Service Plan together with the child's understanding and views of them going into a Short Break situation and the caring arrangements to be provided by the Short Break provider.
Where children have higher level needs an Early Intervention Single Assessment or Single Assessment will be required.
Where the child is to be Accommodated under Section 20, the relevant Accommodation papers and 'Consent' details should be completed. A Care and Placement Plan should reflect the arrangements required (see Section 5.2, Child Looked After Short Break Care Plan).
Where the child's circumstances are more complex because of their social and /or health needs and they are receiving substantial levels of short break support (possibly in different placements), they will be Accommodated under Section 20; a Single Assessment will be required and should include a multi-agency approach.
Care and Placement Plans should be fully completed and recorded and include Consent, Health, Education and Contact Plans.
Where children become Looked After the Independent Reviewing Unit should be advised and appropriate arrangements made for a review, depending upon whether Regulation 48 applies, (see Section 7, Reviews).
Parents / Carers have a right to have an assessments of their own under the Children and Families Act 2014; section 97 of the Children & Families Act 2014 requires local authorities to undertake a 'parent carers needs assessment':
Where requested, then the local authority must assess whether that parent has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are. The assessment must include an assessment of whether it is appropriate for the parent to provide, or continue to provide, care for the disabled child, in the light of the parent's needs for support, other needs and wishes.
The assessment must also have regard to:
The parent /carer self-assessment form is usually incorporated and considered in the child's assessment of needs.
Following assessment, the local authority must then decide;
Services to be provided for parent carers of disabled children should be included in the Child in Need Plan and can be included in the Education, Health and Care Plan, if the child has one.
The Short Breaks Panel consists of representatives from education, health, social care, and commissioning and partnerships. A service manager or senior member of staff will chair the meetings.
The purpose of the Short Breaks Panel is to:
The panel will meet monthly to consider new requests for services and review existing packages.
The panel will also consider how services should be configured to maximise opportunities for disabled children and young people including the development of new services if appropriate.
Note: the outcomes include references to short breaks, it should be noted that not every assessment will identify that there is a need which would necessitate a Short Break service
Outcomes are linked to each disabled child and young person's identified needs and may include some of the specific outcomes as listed below.
|Key Outcomes||Specific Outcomes for Disabled Children and Young People EG's|
Promoting healthy choices, healthy lifestyles, improving physical, mental and emotional health.
|Disabled children and young peoples' confidence and self-esteem improve from the point of referral to Short Break Service Provider.|
|Disabled children and young people are active and take up opportunities to access physical activities.|
Helped to stay safe, feel safe and be secure. To have stability and to be cared for.
|Disabled children and young peoples' awareness of danger improves from the point of referral to Short Break Service Provider in line with their age and ability.|
|Disabled children and young people are safe from harm.|
|Disabled children and young people feel safe and secure within the environment.|
Enjoy and Achieve
Achieve their full potential, are motivated to learn and enjoy recreational activities.
|Disabled children and young people improve their social/interaction skills from the point of referral to the Short Break Service Provider.|
|Disabled children and young people take up opportunities to play alongside and interact with their peers.|
|Disabled children and young people develop new skills and build on existing skills from the point of referral.|
|Disabled children and young people access leisure opportunities equivalent to those their non-disabled peers would actually access.|
|Disabled children and young people's learning needs and interests are met or exceeded.|
|Disabled children and young people's achievements are celebrated and shared with parents and carers.|
Make a Positive Contribution
Engage in positive behaviour and develop positive relationships. Develop self-confidence to deal with significant life events and changes.
|Disabled children and young people contribute to Service design, delivery and evaluation.|
|Disabled children and young people contribute to the review of the service they receive.|
|Disabled children and young people are successfully encouraged to make independent choices.|
Achieve Economic Well-Being
Develop skills and independence to live a prosperous and fulfilling life.
|Disabled children and young people increase their independence in line with their age and ability from the point of referral.|
For this Service, the expected outcomes for disabled children's parents/carers are:
Also see: Child in Need Plans and Reviews Procedure. The provision of Short Breaks is included and reviewed within the Child in Need process.
This is applicable where daytime or overnight short breaks are provided under Section 17 Children Act 1989.
The Child in Need Plan should be in writing and set out clearly all the services that are to be provided to meet the child's needs. Many families with disabled children receive a range of services to meet their child's needs. Wherever possible there should be a single plan which includes the full range of family support services on a multi-agency basis. The plan will show how the short break will meet the needs of the child and family identified in the assessment. It will:
The plan should include all the information necessary to safeguard and ensure the welfare of the child in the short break. The plan should be made available as necessary in accessible formats.
The plan is prepared in consultation with the child and their parent/carer and their views are recorded on the plan. The child, their parent/carer and all interested parties are provided with a copy of the plan.
The objectives of the plan and how they will be achieved are discussed with all interested parties e.g. other agencies, professionals and their details recorded.
Consultation forms should be used prior to subsequent Review meetings to collate the views of the child and others.
This is applicable where short breaks are provided under Section 20 Children Act 1989, (for those placements over 75 nights in a 12 month period).
Where, following assessment, it is agreed with the family that the child should be Looked After under Section 20 of the 1989 Act, there will be additional requirements about planning and review. In this situation the information compiled for the Child in Need Plan (as set out in Child in Need Plan above) will form the basis for the Short Break Care Plan required when a child is looked after under Section 20 and Regulation 48 applies (Situation 2).
In Situation 3, the Short Break Care Plan should be linked to the Care Plan, which should include all the key information about the child. These should not be separate plans which duplicate information.
The Short Break Care Plan must set out the arrangements to meet the child's needs with particular regard to:
As far as practicable, the child should be involved in agreeing the Plan.
The parents must be fully involved in all aspects of agreeing the Short Break Care Plan.
The plan should be signed by the parents, the local authority, those providing the care/ the provider agency and, where appropriate, the child.
There is no requirement for a separate Placement Plan for short breaks.
Where required and appropriate please note 'Ceasing to look after a child', Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.
This section applies to all children or young people who receive overnight short breaks through a residential short break service (local authority or external placement is) or through a fostering arrangement.
Also see: Child in Need Plans and Reviews Procedure. The provision of Short Breaks is included and reviewed within the Child in Need process.
At the heart of an effective Child in Need Planning Meeting there needs to be:
The Practice Manager in consultation with the allocated worker will agree under what legal basis the short break is to be delivered whether this is under section 17 or section 20 of the 1989 Children Act. This decision will be recorded on the child's electronic file by the Team Manager for future reference (please also see Section 3, The Legal Basis for Short Breaks).
There should be a Child in Need Plan for children subject to Section 17 arrangements or a Short Break Plan for children subject to Section 20. These plans should clarify the needs of the child and the outcomes that are being sought from service. These plans should be made available to the meeting so that they can be considered and then revised accordingly.
The parents of the child must be fully involved in all aspects of agreeing a Short Break Plan or Child in Need Plan; it is therefore important that discussions have taken place prior to the meeting itself.
It is an expectation that children should also be involved in agreeing the plan. The child's voice should be central to the planning process just as it has been to the process of assessment itself; this ensures that the child's needs are fully met and preferred outcomes delivered. The plan needs to reflect a clear understanding of the child's preferred form of communication and therefore how the child's voice will be represented in future meetings.
The objectives of the plan and how they will be achieved are to be discussed with all interested parties e.g. other agencies, professionals.
The planning meeting needs to be held prior to the first overnight stay.
The Planning Meeting will be chaired by the Social Worker for all arrangements made under Section 17 and Section 20.
The purpose of the Planning Meeting is to discuss the Short Break Plan or Child in Need Plan. This will involve a discussion of the child's needs, including their health and education, play, skill development and social needs, and how these are to be met as well as the outcomes that the child and family wish to achieve. Previous objectives should be reviewed and measured.
No significant change to a Child in Need Plan or a Short Break Care Plan should be made unless it has first been considered at a review.
In each case, whether children are provided with accommodation under Section 17 or under Section 20, the review should consider whether this continues to be the most appropriate legislative basis for the service provided.
A record should be kept, recording the views of those involved in the review, decisions taken and the identity of the persons responsible for implementing them.
A case review for a child should:
There are a number of additional considerations for children who are receipt of a direct payment arrangement:
Reviews are less frequent than for Children Looked After in Situation 3.
Generally it should be possible to include a review of short breaks with a review of other aspects of a child's health, education or development, where some of the same people will already be together.
Having an Advocate may be particularly useful for disabled young people moving towards adulthood. The advocate should be someone who is able to understand the communication system of the child/ young person.
The 2010 Regulations in relation to Looked After Reviews apply in full, and reviews will take place as follows:
For further details, see the Child Looked After Reviews Procedure.
Visits will be undertaken by a person with the skills and experience to communicate effectively with the child and fulfil the functions of the visit this will normally be the social worker.
The expectations of visits to children in their short break arrangements are detailed below. In addition, there is a requirement that children are visited at home once every 12 weeks as minimum. It is essential that children are seen and spoken to regularly by their worker and this will often need to be more frequently than the minimum levels for visiting and can be undertaken in a variety of venues including their care provider and school. Good practice is guided by professional judgement based on the needs of the child; children who are a continuum of need level III will usually need less intensive visiting. It is expected that the Child in Need Plan or Short Break Plan will detail the frequency required.
There are specific requirements in relation to visits to children at Linden Brook, Short Breaks Unit; these are in place to:
Social workers and Learning Disability Nurses will undertake the following when they visit children who are in receipt of Short Breaks at Linden Brook:
Visits may be undertaken by a qualified social worker or, on occasion, by a learning disability where this has been considered at the review.
It is a key quality standard for visits to take place as follows:
Visits should be undertaken by a qualified social worker and take place at regular intervals to be agreed with the Independent Reviewing Officer and parents/person(s) with Parental Responsibility and recorded in the Short Break Care Plan before the start of the first placement.
In any event:
Visits should be undertaken by a qualified social worker and must take place:
Following the assessment of the child and family, short breaks can be arranged in a number of settings which are subject to different registration and inspection requirements.
|Hospices||Regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) under the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Requirements 2009.||Hospices are Regulated and Inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)|
|Local Authority Foster Care||Fostering services are registered with and inspected by Ofsted.||National Minimum Standards (2011)|
|Children's Homes||Children's homes are registered with and inspected by Ofsted.||Quality Standards (March 2015)|
|Residential Special Schools||Different regimes apply depending on whether the residential special school is maintained, non-maintained or independent.||The National Minimum Standards Residential Special Schools (2015)|
The key to providing safe care to children in their own homes is the same as to the provision of safe care elsewhere. It is essential that safe recruitment practices are followed and staff are properly trained and supervised and that the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are complied with.
Where the local authority provides a sitter or overnight carer in the child's own home, the child is not being provided with accommodation by the local authority and the authority is therefore providing the short break service under Section 17 Children Act 1989.
However, care that is provided under arrangements made by the local authority and which is provided on a frequent, intensive or overnight basis comes within the definition of Work with Children or Regulated Activity whether or not it takes place in the child's own home, and the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service in relation to Regulated Activities will apply.
Best practice is that the child should be cared for by an approved local authority foster carer. Childminders with whom the local authority places or wishes to place children overnight (or childminders wishing to take on such work) should be asked to apply for approval as local authority foster carers. It is not appropriate for the local authority to provide overnight accommodation with childminders who are not also approved foster carers.
It is essential that individuals providing care in their own homes are subject to full employment and personal checks, as well as safe recruitment methods, and that they are provided with induction and training.
There are no requirements for agencies to register with Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission if they provide services to support disabled children in the community or in their own homes, unless they provide Personal Care. If personal care is provided, services must register with the Care Quality Commission and comply with the relevant standards.
Regulated Activity under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes the provision of Personal Care:
However any form of care or supervision provided for children on a frequent, intensive, or overnight basis including transporting (where the vehicle being used is only for transporting children and carers or supervisors), support given to children with accessing computer/gaming or other electronic devices comes within the definition of Regulated Activity and the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will apply.
Where families arrange care themselves by employing carers in a private capacity, funded by Direct Payments, they should be advised that direct payments cannot be spent on:
Further guidance can be accessed from the Calderdale Direct Payments Scheme.
Only valid for 48hrs