Lancashire Short Break Services Statement

The law says that every Local Authority has a duty to provide services that provide short breaks to carers of disabled children and produce a Short Break Service Statement so that families know what services are available and the eligibility criteria for these services (Paragraph 6(1)(c) of Schedule 2 of the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, regulations relating to this came into force on 1st April 2011).

This statement is intended to provide information about the services that are available to meet the needs of families with disabled children in Lancashire. As required this statement will be regularly monitored and reviewed.

This statement covers:

What is a short break in Lancashire?

Short break services are available for children and young people with additional needs and/or disabilities who live in Lancashire.

Short breaks provide parents and carers support to enable them to continue their caring role, undertake training, education or enjoy leisure activities, spend time with other children in the family or carry out day to day tasks.  They give children and young people, the chance to take part in activities, explore new opportunities, form friendships, become more independent and enjoy themselves. 

A short break could be for just a couple of hours, a whole day, or a few days. Short Breaks activities take place outside of school hours during daytime, evenings, weekends and school holidays.

How can short breaks help me and my family?

Short breaks help children and young people to:

  • Take part in enriching activities that interest them
  • Develop independence and gain more confidence
  • Spend time with their friends – and make new ones
  • Achieve personal goals and learn new skills.

For parents and carers, they can:

  • Provide a break from caring
  • Provide time to spend with other children in a family
  • Enable them to achieve personal goals and learn new skills
  • Allow time to meet and get to know other families that share similar experiences

Booking a short break

Most short break services, groups and activities can be accessed by contacting each provider directly. The majority of these providers have their own websites where information about booking can be found. The SEND Directory and the SEND Local Offer website both contain details of all the relevant providers and organisations, along with their website and contact details.

Services and eligibility

Lancashire County Council funds a range of short breaks, all of which aim to improve the day to day lives of children and families.  Most of the services fall into the following categories:

Universal services: free or low-cost services that can be used by most disabled children so that their parents can access short breaks.

Targeted: services for disabled children with higher needs so that their parents can access short breaks.

Specialist: support for the family of a disabled child in addition to the basic offer of short breaks following an assessment by a social worker because there are unmet needs.

Universal services

These are services that are provided which are routinely available to children and young people and their families. The majority of parents and carers are able to get a short break by using free or low-cost local services that are open to all including: mainstream activities, play schemes, classes and groups where no, or limited, additional support is required. For example:

  • Early years settings providing education and childcare.
  • Childminders and other childcare provision in schools or charities
  • Local parks and adventure playgrounds, after-school clubs / play schemes,
  • Drama and music clubs,
  • Sports activities (e.g. football) and
  • Youth services (e.g. youth clubs).


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

Some universal groups/clubs are free to use whilst others will make a charge.

Families can contact service providers directly and discuss:

  • What is on offer
  • Any eligibility criteria
  • The availability of spaces
  • Any fees

Where a child or young person wishes to use universal services, the family should talk with the service provider to

  • Provide information about the child or young person's additional needs and how to best support the child.
  • Discuss and explore what the provider may need to change (these are called reasonable adjustments)
  • Jointly assess the risks and work together to create a plan to reduce the risks
  • Make a plan for the child or young person starting


Some children and young people may have needs that cannot be suitably met within universal childcare, play, youth and leisure services, even if they have additional support.

Services may include play schemes, youth clubs, groups and activities which are aimed at young people with disabilities. 

There are a range of services commissioned specifically for children and young people with disabilities who may require additional support, or who may need groups and services that are specifically designed to meet their needs. They can also provide a short break for the parents or carers.

Lancashire Break Time activities are commissioned by Lancashire County Council.  The offer includes clubs and schemes that take place after school, at weekends and during school holidays.

Some targeted short breaks are free to use whilst others may have a small charge.   There is a minimum £1 per hour contribution for Lancashire Break Time activities.   


The criteria to access Lancashire Break Time short breaks is to be the unpaid primary carer of a child or young person with special educational needs and/or disabilities, aged 4 to 18 years and living in Lancashire (excluding Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool). 

The child or young person will find it difficult to access universal services due to sensory issues, learning difficulties, physical mobility problems, etc.

They will not be in receipt of an assessed social care outreach package; those with a higher level of need will receive services through their package of care.

From April 2022, Lancashire Break Time will be known as Break Time.  The eligibility criteria to attend is shown below.

Children will live in Lancashire (excluding Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool council areas).

The child or young person has special educational needs and/or disabilities meaning they are unable to access universal services and activities; and the parents and carers are in receipt of child benefit for that child or young person.

Children and young people will be able to access Break Time from the start of the academic year (September) in which they turn age 5 to the end of the academic year in which they turn 18.

Eligible children and young people can access up to 78 hours of Break Time activity within a financial year.

Those eligible can choose to attend a maximum of two providers over the year.  Hours will be split between providers at parent/carers request. Families have a choice about when they use these hours. For example:

  • Provider A – 30 hours and Provider B - 48 hours.
  • Provider A - 29 hours and Provider B – 39 hours

Hours cannot be carried over to the next financial year, this begins the following April.

Registration for Break Time activities

The launch of Break Time will commence from 1 April 2022.

As part of this new service we have designed a registration process. For more information about registration, please see the Break Time webpage.


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

A small number of families will have needs that require specialist or specific support or short breaks This may occasionally include specialist overnight short breaks services such as hospice care, overnight short breaks or packages of care and support at home.  


Specialist services are accessed following a Child and Family social work assessment undertaken by either the Children with Disabilities or Children’s Social Care Teams.  The assessment will consider the impact of the child’s disability on family life, the needs of parents and carers and the needs of the whole family.  The social worker will ensure that children and young people are at the heart of the assessment process. They will work with families and any other professional involved with the child or young person to complete a holistic assessment. The social worker will make recommendations on how the child or young person and their family’s needs can best be supported.  Depending on the outcome of the assessment, needs can be met through a range of services.

Parents, carers and professionals can request a Child and Family assessment by contacting: 0300 123 6720.

Services may include:

  • Direct payments that families can use to employ a personal assistant to deliver a short break
  • Support through a commissioned service
  • Overnight short breaks.

Direct payments: Are designed to enable choice and importantly allow children and young people the opportunity to try new activities.  If your child is eligible for direct payments, you may wish to use these to employ a personal assistant. You will receive a prepayment card to access the funds. The bank account can be accessed online to enable you to review spend, create direct debit payments and make one-off payments.

More information about direct payments can be found at Direct payments - Lancashire County Council

Commissioned services: One option that families also have is to commission short breaks from one of Lancashire County Council’s commissioned providers. For example: 

  • Daytime (personal care) individual care as needed and following an assessment in the family home of a child or young person or elsewhere
  • Day time (community short breaks) individual support, as needed and following an assessment, to participate in leisure activities for children and young people outside their homes.

Overnight short breaks: These may be provided to children, young people and families as part of a plan of support following a Child and Family assessment.

Each commissioned Short Break provider will have clearly defined standards, review processes and a complaints procedure.   You can ask them for more information about these, or if you have any concerns, please contact an Officer about Short Breaks on

Short Breaks for adults aged 18 +

Entitlement for short breaks changes when young people become adults at 18 years of age. Young people are entitled to an assessment under the Care Act 2014, by Adult Social Care Services. Some short break services can be accessed by funding given as a result of the Care Act assessment.  Information about local clubs and activities for disabled young people over the age of 18 can also be found on the Local Offer website.

More information about preparing for adulthood, including the transition into adult social care is available on the Local Offer website.  Visit: Preparing for adulthood - special educational needs and disabilities - Lancashire County Council

Have your say

Parents and carers

The Lancashire Parent Carer Forum is an independent group of parent and carers of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities aged (0-25 years). They are volunteers who provide a voice to represent Lancashire’s parent, carers and their families. If you would like to influence and contribute to the development of short breaks and other services for children with SEND in Lancashire, you can contact them directly. For more information visit the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum Facebook page and Lancashire Parent Carer Forum website .

Children and young people

POWAR is a participation group for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. POWAR stands for: Participate, Opportunity, Win, Achieve and Respect.

It is run by Lancashire County Council's Targeted Youth Support - Participation Service. POWAR influence decision making and make a difference to young people’s lives. They hold regular meetings which are informal and fun. These meetings are open to young people from secondary school age up to 25. For more information visit: POWAR participation group - Lancashire County Council

Shaping short breaks in Lancashire

By listening to the views, wishes, feelings and aspirations of children and young people and their parent carers, we strive to ensure short breaks are available to enable and empower children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to lead fulfilling lives, have access to enriching activities and have opportunities away from their parents and/or carers. This will be achieved by continuing to develop our short breaks services and ensuring responsive and timely services, which are accessible.

Our Short Break offer has been developed in response to feedback from children, young people, families and professionals. Over  the past two years we have actively consulted and sought feedback. We listened to children and young people, their parent and carers and Service Providers to learn more about their experiences and what they want from short breaks services.

We worked closely with children, young people and their families including the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum to support parents and carers in shaping short break services in Lancashire.

If you have any feedback about how we can improve short breaks please email:

Ongoing development

Coproducing the short breaks offer:

The following changes have been agreed through co-production and in response to feedback from parent and carers, Service Providers and Children and young People:

  • The redesign of the new short break offer
  • Advanced planning and arrangement of short breaks
  • The introduction of a maximum offer for Break Time (78 hours per child)
  • The introduction of Break Time Plus for Looked after Children and those children with an assessed need.

Some of our priorities for continuing to develop short breaks:

  • Better promotion of Short Breaks and the SEND Local Offer so more families know about it.
  • Providing clear information that is comprehensive, accessible, up-to-date and explains how families can access short breaks services
  • Increasing the range of short break services
  • Measuring the outcomes and impact of all Short Break Services

Measuring the outcomes and impact of short breaks services

We will ensure that our short break services focus on improving life opportunities and outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families.

We know that the views of families, children and young people are essential to support positive outcomes. Not all children, young people and their families will need the same level of support; some will need more than others because of the nature of their child’s disability and their individual circumstances.

We will continue to monitor and review the views of children, young people with SEND, their parents and Service Providers so that everybody feels involved and included. This will assist the Council with developing a cycle of continual improvement.

Regular meetings will be in place with all service providers of commissioned short breaks to continuously review individual packages of support and monitor the service as a whole.  

Complaints procedure

If you are unhappy about any decisions about your child or young person's short breaks please contact an Officer via

Alternatively you can make a complaint by via the Lancashire County Council complaints procedure

If you have any comments or questions about the information contained in this statement, please contact Lancashire County Council via

This statement will be reviewed and updated in January 2022.