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9.6 Children’s Disability Service - Early Support Service provision of Short Breaks to Children and Young People with Disabilities at Early Intervention and Targeted Levels


This chapter details the core offer of community short breaks Flexible Short Breaks Scheme (FSBS) and the enhanced offer of Targeted Short Breaks (TSB) for children and young people with a disability.

Short breaks form part of a continuum of services which support disabled children and their families.

Short breaks are provided to give:

  • Disabled children and young people enjoyable experiences away from their primary carers, thereby contributing to their personal and social development and reducing social isolation;
  • Parents and families a necessary and valuable break from caring responsibilities.

Short Breaks include day, evening, overnight and weekend activities and can take place in the child’s own home, the home of an approved carer, a residential or community setting. Short Breaks can also be provided via an approved Agency, as a Personal Budget or via a Direct Payment.

Short breaks come in a variety of formats and each one can last from just a few hours to a few days, and occasionally longer, depending on the type of provision and the needs of the child and their family. Short break provision should be reliable, so that carers can plan around the breaks provided (Short Breaks Implementation Guidance, DCfS & DH, 2008).


Direct Payments Policy Guidance

Pathway to Provision - Multi-Agency Thresholds Guidance


Short Breaks Duty 2011

Childcare Act 2006

Children Act 1989

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015

Children and Families Act 2014

Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) and the Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Board (NCSCB) Procedures Manual, Disabled Children

Short Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children: Departmental Advice for Local Authorities (2011)

This chapter was added to the manual in July 2015.


  1. Introduction
  2. Eligibility and Threshold
  3. Referral and Assessment Framework
  4. Review and Monitoring
  5. Timeframe

    Appendix 1: Flexible Short Breaks Scheme leaflet

    Appendix 2: Targeted Short Breaks leaflet

1. Introduction

What is the Flexible Short Breaks Scheme?

Nottinghamshire County Council supports the inclusion of children and young people with disabilities into universal settings. For example, we would expect families of disabled children under 5 years to access their local Children’s Centre for socialisation and play opportunities as well as for support and guidance as any other family. For those children and young people with disabilities unable to access universal settings then a flexible short break is the core offer.

The Flexible Short Breaks Scheme (FSBS) offers disabled children and young people, aged 5-18 years living in Nottinghamshire, up to 80 hours of short break provision per year from a menu of services including:

  • Access to holiday, play, and youth activities in mainstream or specialist settings;
  • Sitting and befriending services provided through an approved provider framework contracted with the Local Authority;
  • A Direct Payment, where families choose and employ their own carer in line with policy guidance for Direct Payments (see Direct Payments Policy Guidance) or as a personal budget to fund community short breaks activities/opportunities.

The number of hours depends on the month that the child, young person is confirmed as meeting the threshold for the scheme and is allocated pro-rata to the end of the financial year. The hours allocated can be used flexibly throughout the year at regular intervals, or in blocks, such as school holidays. This varies between providers.

The Flexible Short Breaks Scheme is delivered by Personalisation Officers who will:

  • Assess the needs of the child or young person in partnership with the Lead Professional or parents/carers (in line with Pathway to Provision);
  • Identify the appropriate providers and support the family to make an informed choice about the service they wish to receive;
  • Set up the short break service and act as a link between the family and provider;
  • Monitor the delivery of the service within the agreed timeframe.

What is Targeted Short Breaks?

Targeted Short Breaks is our enhanced short breaks offer, it is for children and young people with a disability who have been assessed as needing a higher level of short break hours than our core offer, also known as the Flexible Short Breaks Scheme (FSBS), of 80hrs per year.  The threshold to access Targeted Short Breaks is at level 3, which means children can “step up” from level 2, Flexible Short Breaks or “step down” from level 4, after a social work assessment has been completed and the involvement of a social worker is no longer required, in line with Pathway to Provision.

Children and young people stepping into Targeted Short Breaks may retain the same provider(s) to ensure continuity or will receive a short breaks personal budget.

2. Eligibility and Threshold

Who is the scheme intended for?

  • Children and young people aged 0-18 years (up to their 18th birthday). In the financial year that a young person turns 18 the hours will be allocated on a pro-rata basis up to their 18th birthday;
  • Children who are unable to access universal services appropriate to their age without support.

Who is Targeted Short Breaks not intended for?

  • Any child or young person who is not disabled;
  • Young people who are over 18 years of age;
  • Children and young people who access more than 74 overnight short breaks per year in a residential unit;
  • Children and young people who live outside of Nottinghamshire;
  • Children and young people who are able to access mainstream/universal services without support in line with ‘pathway to provision’.

What is Targeted Short Breaks not intended for?

  • To support parenting capacity or where a parent/carer is unable to provide ‘good enough parenting’;
  • As an alternative to strategies & programmes of behaviour management;
  • To fund child care for parents/carers who are working or training;
  • As a way of meeting the additional personal care needs of children;
  • As a means of transporting children to and from school.

Allocation of hours

Flexible Short Breaks is up to 80 hours per year.

For children ‘stepping up’ from FSBS to Targeted Short Breaks the level is up to 300 hours per year, for children ‘stepping down’ from a social worker the level of support will be based on the identified outcomes from the social work assessment.

3. Referral and Assessment Framework

Flexible Short Breaks Scheme

Access is via the Short Breaks and Personalisation duty point.  Personalisation Officers will aim to contact Families within 40 working days from the initial enquiry to process the request Short Breaks & Personalisation Service Duty phone: 01623 433226

Targeted Short Breaks

The assessment process to access this service would be either by a statutory assessment (where children have stepped down from a social worker) or, where this does not exist, a multi-agency review or the EHAF assessment process. A child cannot be referred directly into this service. Requests for Targeted Short Breaks are made to the Short Breaks & Personalisation Service- Team Manager who can be contacted by contacting Short Breaks & Personalisation Service Duty phone: 01623 433226

Process for Step Up to Targeted Short Breaks (in line with Pathway to Provision)

Multi agency meeting minutes or an updated EHAF is needed in order for children and young people to step up from the Flexible Short Breaks Scheme to Targeted Short Breaks. This may be facilitated by education, a health professional, Early Help or the Multi Agency safeguarding Hub (MASH). If at anytime safeguarding concerns arise, the case must step up to Level 4 as outlined in the Pathway to Provision.

A Resource Allocation System (RAS) questionnaire is completed with the family to identify an appropriate level of short breaks funding.

In such cases, wherever possible and appropriate, the current short breaks provider will be maintained to promote continuity for the child or young person and reduce disruption. 

Process for Step Down to Targeted Short Breaks(in line with Pathway to Provision)

Following review and reassessed need children and young people may step down from Social Care, fieldwork where it has been assessed that there are no safeguarding or parenting concerns and there is no longer a role for a social worker but where a package of support is in place, this may include up to 74 residential overnight short breaks per year.

Again, wherever possible and appropriate, continuity of support to the child or young person will be maintained in order to promote long term positive outcomes and reduce disruption. 

The RAS questionnaire is used as part of our review process to ensure that each child’s needs continue to be met at the appropriate level.

Children may also step down from Targeted Short Breaks to Flexible Short Breaks or from Flexible Short Breaks to Universal provision.

4. Review and Monitoring

Children and young people in receipt of Flexible Short Breaks and Targeted Short Breaks who are open to Children’s Social Care will have their needs regularly reviewed through a statutory Child In Need Review.

Children and young people not open to Children’s Social Care will have a Lead Professional who will be responsible for ensuring that the short break continues to meet the child/young person’s needs. This may be established within a school review or at any muli-agency/team around the child meeting.

Where it is felt appropriate for a case to step out of Children’s Social Care but where the short break is to continue, it is the social workers responsibility to ensure a Lead Professional is identified as detailed in the Pathway to Provision. A Lead Professional may be a family friend, a relative or a professional involved with the child. In some cases a parent/carer may wish to assume this role themselves. These children will all be linked to a Personalisation Officer at the point of ‘step down’ who will complete a short breaks personal support plan alongside the family and offer support to the Lead professional as and when necessary. Children accessing overnight short breaks in a residential unit or via Contract Care will be reviewed by the Short Breaks & Personalisation service 6 monthly.

Financial monitoring of Direct Payments will be undertaken by the direct payment service. 

5. Timeframe

Flexible Short Breaks Scheme

From conformation of them being accepted on the scheme, a child/young person will wait no longer than 8 weeks for commencement of the short break. This timeline may however be affected by Provider capacity or, in the case of a Direct Payment, the family’s ability to recruit a Personal Assistant.

In total, a family will normally wait no longer than 16 weeks form initial enquiry to commence of the short break.


Click here to view Appendix 1: Flexible Short Breaks Scheme leaflet.

Click here to view Appendix 2: Targeted Short Breaks leaflet.