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Birmingham City Council Short Break Statement 2017 to 2018

“The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children” Regulations 2011 places a duty on local authorities to have regard to the needs of carers who would be unable to continue to care for their disabled child without a short break, or would be able to care more effectively if breaks are given;

  • to look after other children of the family more effectively
  • to take part in training and education or
  • to carry out day to day tasks in running the household

Funding of short breaks was impacted on by the withdrawal of the Short Breaks Grant and the Early Intervention Grant. Since 2013 to 2014 there has not been any ring-fenced funding for Short Breaks, but the Commissioning Team has been able to maintain a consistent level of investment despite having to implement significant savings.

Since 2009, through regular consultation and conversation with disabled children and their parents, and carers we have received a consistent message about the types and characteristics of services valued by children, young people and their parents. These include:

  • Provision of services in the local area
  • Activities covering all the school holidays, including half-term holidays
  • Saturday clubs and weekend activities
  • After school and evening activities
  • Opportunities for disabled children and young people to develop friendships
  • Confidence that disabled children’s needs will be met by appropriately trained staff in all settings
  • Flexible services and timely support to meet changing family needs

In January 2014 the Council commissioned short breaks for children with moderate needs. Short breaks for children with complex needs, requiring 1:1 or 1:2 staff support, followed in December 2014.

The approach of allocating an indicative 100 hours per child was determined following benchmarking other regional local authorities (by accessing their Short Breaks Statements). The suggested allocation was for 10 holiday days and some weekend provision. In the current economic climate, the Council has a duty to maximise the service reach as much as possible and reduce the historic imbalance reported in the consultation of some children receiving lots of support and others receiving little or no support.

Children's Trust

As the scope of the New Children’s Trust continues to be defined, there is a resulting impact on existing council structures. One of these is that the work on disabled children’s short breaks contracts are regarded to be within scope for the Children’s Trust.

The Governance of the Children’s Trust has also been confirmed with the appointments of Andrew Christie (Chair), Andy Couldrick (Chief Executive) and six Non-Executive Directors.  

The Trust Board is playing an active role in the transition arrangements and will therefore need to be sighted to the proposals for any redesign or re-tendering of contracted services so that they deliver outcomes and priorities set by the Children’s Trust.

Children, parents and providers will be invited to contribute to discussions, using a range of media, to work together to determine how we will commission a new set of services for the short breaks offer.

The Birmingham Parent Carers Forum is a key partner, representing parents and carers views at SEND Stakeholders Group and if you are not involved I would encourage you to use the Forum to express your views. Contact us by email at: info@bpcf.org.uk

A number of parents have raised concerns about the change to the number of available short breaks hours impacting on their ability to work. The legislation is quite clear that short breaks were never intended to be a substitute for childcare.

The Commissioning team supports partnership arrangements between parents and providers that helps identify creative solutions and maintains a diversity of provision.

Download the full Birmingham City Council Short Break Statement 2017 to 2018 statement