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Short Breaks

The term “short breaks” refers to services that help parents/carers to more effectively

provide care for their disabled children by providing them regular breaks so that they can meet the needs of other children in the family; study or take part in leisure activities themselves; or carry out day to day household tasks. We also want short breaks to help make sure young people access positive activities.
Royal Greenwich has a duty to provide access to short break services for parent/carers of all disabled children aged 0-19 in Royal Greenwich (or up to 25, where part of a support plan). This statement explains:

  • The range of services on offer in Royal Greenwich
  • Who is eligible for services
  • How to access services
  • How we develop short breaks
  • How you can shape short breaks

Short Breaks for Young People 18-25

Short breaks for young people 18-25 is one of several service offers aimed at  providing young people with opportunities for social inclusion, relationship building and skills building on their journey  to developing greater independence.

The Adult’s teams are obliged to promote a person’s wellbeing in a number of ways. How this happens will depend on the young person’s circumstances, including the young person’s needs, goals and wishes, and in consideration of how these impact on their wellbeing. We will consider each case on it’s own merits and will factor in what the young person wants to achieve, and how the support provided will enable them to achieve their personal aspirations.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Adult Services takes its statutory responsibilities seriously and is committed to ensuring that it provides a range of options to young people, approaching adulthood and beyond. This might include respite, day opportunities amongst other options that might include continuation of access to the existing children activities or, other individualised support packages designed with the young person and their families to meet assessed needs.    

In developing the 2019-2022 SEND Short Break Strategy, Adults Services wanted to use this as an opportunity to begin a piece of work on the development of a new separate Young Adult's Short Breaks offer.  This will mean the new Children's Services Short Breaks programme from 1st April will be commissioned for young people up to their 18th birthday. Adults care package options will be explored with young people and their families in the coming weeks. 

While not part of the new Children's offer, it is recognised that as the Young Adults offer develops there is a need to ensure that families are aware of what is being provided to meet needs.  As such a key priority within the Short Breaks Strategy is to:

 "Review the transitions process for young people accessing targeted and specialist short breaks, ensuring that young people and their parents/carers are clear on what the offer is post-17."

 There will be opportunities for consultation with families and young adults in the coming months to ensure the Young Adult offer meets the needs of our Greenwich families.

For further information about the options available to you or your young person, please call 020 8921 4860 for the Community Learning Disabilities Team or 020 8921 2304 for all other primary support needs. 


Statement on Short Breaks 2019

Dear Parents and Carers,

As many of you are aware, the current short break contracts are coming to an end March 31, 2019.

We have been working hard to get an improved offer of short breaks to you and your children and young people. We consulted with you and have used this information to inform our decisions.  We have also involved parents in the assessment of bids submitted to Children's Services.

I am very pleased to tell you that we are recommending 10 providers to deliver a short break programme with more diversity in activities, more capacity across the times you told us you wanted (e.g. school holidays and weekends) and more choice for you as a family. The intention is for these services to be up and running from April 1st, 2019.

Royal Greenwich Cabinet will take the final decision on our recommendations at their meeting on 13 March 2019. This means we are not able to tell you who the providers will be or the details of the offer at this point. I understand the uncertainty is difficult for your families and I apologise for any distress caused by the delay in getting the details out to you. I assure you that we will keep you posted as we near April 1st so you will know exactly what services are available and how to access them.

If you are in receipt of a specialist package of support and are concerned about how you will meet your child’s needs from April 1st, please contact the duty social worker at 020 8921 2599 to discuss the options of support available to you.

We are very excited about this new offer and are confident that you will be pleased with the improved offer of short break services going forward.

Thank you.

Jodi Mathers

Head of SEND Social Care.

How are short breaks organised?

There are a range of short breaks to meet different needs. A family may require a mixture of different services as their needs change.

Universal services: inclusive services that are used by most disabled children
Targeted services: Are services that are specifically for children and young people with
disabilities. This may not require an assessment.
Specialist services: for disabled children and families who have exceptional needs or when there are safeguarding concerns. An assessment will be required.

Universal Short Breaks

There are an estimated 3850 children and young people with disabilities in Royal Greenwich. The vast majority of families are able to have a short break by using free or affordable local services. These could include:

  • Early years settings providing education and childcare
  • Child minders and other child care providers
  • After school clubs
  • Drama and music clubs
  • Leisure services (swimming, football, dance)
  • Youth services (youth clubs)
  • Uniformed groups (scouts, brownies)

More information on universal services, including opening times and contact details can be found on the Local Offer or through the Family Information Service.


Universal services aim to be inclusive and open to all disabled people, wherever possible.

Families and young people can contact the service providers directly and discuss:

  • What is on offer
  • Any eligibility criteria
  • The needs they can cater for
  • The availability of spaces
  • Any fees

Some are free to use whilst others will make a charge. Some are free to use whilst others will make a charge. A subsidy may be available for families on low incomes.
Access by disabled children and young people Service providers have a duty to make
reasonable adjustments and must not treat a disabled person less favourably. However, not all universal services will be suitable for everyone. It is advisable to contact the provider to discuss your child’s needs and what they can offer.
The Government provides many families with direct financial support via Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The Government also provides financial help for childcare for working parents. Families may use this to help them pay for short breaks.

Targeted and targeted plus Short Breaks

The range of targeted short breaks services in Royal Greenwich includes:

  • Targeted clubs and schemes for children with high needs
  • Other activities not commissioned by Royal Greenwich such as targeted after school clubs for children and young people with disabilities.

Targeted clubs and schemes

Targeted services provide breaks of up to 2 hours and are available to children and young people with disabilities who are unable to use mainstream services already available.

Royal Greenwich commissions a small range of clubs and schemes targeted towards children with high needs.

You can see details of the current range of targeted short breaks in the related links to you right.

Targeted Plus clubs and schemes

These services support children and young people with the most complex needs, including those with severe ASD needs and/or severe learning disabilities, who require higher staffing ratios. Targeted Plus services provide longer breaks of up to 5 hours with higher levels of staffing.
Royal Greenwich commissions a small range of clubs and schemes targeted towards children with high needs.
You can see details of the current range of targeted short breaks in the related links to your right.

Specialist Short Breaks

Most families will get the support they need from the range of universal, targeted and targeted plus services on offer to them.

A small number of families will have exceptional needs that require special provision to help them. This may occasionally include specialist short breaks such as direct payments or overnight stays, or agency support.

The use of specialist services is always based on a social work needs assessment and a
related goal or outcome.
An assessment will usually be done by a social worker from the Children with Disabilities Team. Families and professionals can make referrals to the MASH team directly by phone or e-mail.
An assessment will consider your family’s needs, the support and resources already available to you, including from your friends or family. If specialist support is required to meet exceptional needs a social worker will work with you to draw up a disabled child support plan.

Shaping Short Break Services

Our short breaks offer has been developed in response to feedback from children, young people, families and professionals.

Over the past three years we have actively looked for feedback by:

  • Talking to children and young people at short breaks activities
  • Talking to the SEND young people’s representative group in Greenwich (ACE)
  • Talking to parents and carers at short breaks events, other events, focus groups and in standing meetings.
  • Talking to professionals from health, social care, education and the voluntary sector
  • Asking families to feedback on services
  • Asking for feedback from parents and young people as part of the contract
  • monitoring process.
  • Working with Greenwich Parent Voice on an on-line short breaks survey
  • Carrying out a Royal Greenwich on-line short breaks survey.

Young people and parents have also been involved in the commissioning process around
short breaks. Royal Greenwich works closely with others, including Greenwich Parent Voice to support parents and carers in shaping short breaks services in Greenwich.

Recent changes to short breaks in Greenwich have been made in response to what people have told us:

  • ASD youth provision to address a gap in short break provision for young people
  • with ASD
  • Increased provision of weekend short breaks
  • Increased offer of evening and after school short breaks
  • More age appropriate activities from providers
  • We are looking at increasing the range of support workers available.
  • The range of opportunities available now meets the needs of those with the most complex needs.
  • We are looking at new ways of allocating short breaks to ensure that this is fair and transparent.

Resource Allocation System (RAS)

What is the RAS?

This Resource Allocation System (RAS) questionnaire is designed to help families participate in decision making about social care funding and is shared openly with them. This tool looks specifically at short break and care support needed for the child/young person. The RAS questionnaire is a tool the family and social worker/keyworker use to work together to establish the level of support needed. Families should have copies of the questionnaire in advance so that that they can score themselves before meeting with the social worker/keyworker. This gives the family the opportunity to consider the questions and to begin to identify for themselves what level of support they think is needed. The family should have the opportunity to be supported in this initial exercise if they wish. The questionnaire will then be completed jointly with a social worker during a visit when a joint score is agreed. The family have the opportunity to include comments at the end if they feel the score does not reflect their need or if there is discrepancy between what the family and professional have scored. During a review of support it may not be a social worker who completes the RAS with the family. At the review, the RAS may be updated with a Keyworker and the family.

If you have any question about this tool please contact the Disabled Children SW Team on 02089212599 or

To see the primary RAS allocation tool please click here

To see the secondary RAS allocation tool please click here

To see the RAS guidance notes please click here

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