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Short Breaks FAQs

What is a Short Break and how can I use it?

Short Breaks have two main aims:

  • To give parents or full time carers of disabled children and young people a break from their caring responsibilities.
  • To enable disabled children to have social opportunities and join in with safe, fun and interesting activities.

Short Breaks can be for a few hours or longer, including overnight and can be provided in lots of different ways. A short break could include having additional support so that a child or young person can join in with a club or recreational activity in their community. It could involve someone caring for a child in their own home or within the child’s home. It could be extra support for the disabled child alongside family leisure and social activities.

We have asked a group of parents who use Short Breaks what it is and how they use. Please watch the short film below to hear what they had to say.


Is a Short Break the same as respite?

Short Breaks were previously known as respite care. However, many people thought this had negative connotations, making it sound like looking after a disabled child was a burden to the family. The term Short Break is now usually used instead.

Who provides Short Breaks?

There are different ways that Short Breaks are provided in York. For example, there are specialist schemes offered by the Local Authority and Voluntary Sector agencies offering group activities and individual support. Some families may prefer Direct Payments, monies paid by the Local Authority directly to families so that they can organise and pay for support themselves.

Not all families need specialist short break provision and may find that mainstream services for children and young people are able to meet their needs, for example, after school clubs, holiday schemes and youth clubs. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires that such services are accessible to disabled children. Where children and young people require support over and above the normal requirements for such services, additional Short Breaks support can be offered.

Agencies that provide Short Breaks:

Will I be charged for Short Breaks?

Not usually, the additional support a disabled child may need to be included should not be an extra cost to their family. However some activities and services have a cost which you would expect to pay whether a child is disabled or non disabled. Families would be expected to pay such costs.

What are the criteria of accessing Short Breaks?

Short Breaks are provided for families with children with a permanent and substantial impairment or illness, which has a profound effect on their health, development and social functioning. They are provided for families that are unable to access universal activities, services and provision without additional support.

How do families access Short Breaks?

There is an online form to complete to enquire about and request Short Breaks. You can also contact the Local Area Team Referral Coordinator directly to discuss the service further.

Do I have to have a social worker to access Short Breaks?

In the past, children accessing Short Breaks have been linked to a social worker who carries out the assessment and keeps in touch to ensure everything is working out for the child and family. It is now possible to have Short Breaks, without necessarily being linked to a social worker. The Local Area Team will try to ensure that a professional, who is already supporting your family, keeps in touch to ensure that the Short Breaks you have are meeting your needs.

Do I have to have a social work assessment of need in order to access Short Breaks?

You may require a social work lead assessment of need in order to fully understand and meet your child and family’s needs.  However York is currently piloting an alternative approach that may mean an assessment is not required if the information is available in other assessments, for example your child’s Education, Health and Care plan. Parents /carers will need to give their consent for this alternative approach and also their consent for the Referral Coordinators to access existing assessments and talk to other professionals that are currently supporting their family and child.

What if my family do not meet the criteria for Short Breaks?

If you do not meet the criteria for Short Breaks the Referral Coordinators will communicate this decision to you as soon as possible and you will be offered a conversation with a trained volunteer to talk through support, information, activities and services that are available through York’s Local Offer for disabled children and families.

How do families access short breaks?

There is a referral co-ordinator who is a first point of contact for families requesting short breaks for the first time. There will be an assessment of need followed by a decision on provision of short breaks. However, a detailed assessment is not always necessary. In York we make sure that there is fair access for all families by using agreed criteria that takes into account the impact of caring for a disabled child on all of the family.

Requesting a short break

To find out more about how you can access short breaks, arrangements for assessment and other information please contact the Local Area Team.

T: 01904 552420 or speak to your child's social worker if they have one

or email, who will assess the support needs of you and your disabled child/young person.