Lancashire Short Breaks Statement 2023 - 2024


Lancashire County Council has a responsibility to provide a range of Short Breaks Services designed to assist individuals who provide care for children with disabilities to enable them to continue to do so, or to do so more effectively by giving them breaks from their caring role.

Welcome to the 2022 to 2023 Short Breaks Statement, which sets out Lancashire County Council's Short Breaks offer to children and young people aged 0 to 18 years with additional needs and/or disabilities. Here in Lancashire, we know that children and young people with disabilities have the right to be supported at home and in their local communities, to have opportunities to make and meet friends, feel confident, and to thrive in family life.

This document provides information on the range of services and support available to you and your family and how to access it. We have produced the guide using feedback from parents, carers, children, and young people who have accessed the service over the last year. We will carry on talking to families about the design of our statement and our approach to service provision. We will do this to ensure that we work together on an equal basis, this is called co-production.


Disability: A person is disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment which has a substantial adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day to day activities.

Short Break: A ‘Short Break’ is the government and Lancashire County Council’s term for an activity for a child with disabilities that also provides a break for the parents. A short break is sometimes called respite and is provided because Lancashire County Council recognises that parenting a child with disabilities can be hard.

Local Offer: When we refer to our 'Local Offer' we mean all the services and organisations which are part of the support on offer in Lancashire. We publish it so you understand the support available and how to access it. You can find our Local Offer online:

SEND Directory: When we refer to the SEND Directory we mean a directory for organisations, providers and services that support or provide information, advice and activities for families including children and young people with SEND. You can find our SEND Directory online: SEND Local Offer Directory

About Short Breaks

Short Breaks 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.

Short Breaks support families because they help children and young people to:

  • take part in fun and enriching activities
  • develop their confidence
  • spend time with friends and make new ones
  • take part in activities in a safe and supported environment
  • achieve personal goals and learn new skills
  • get active and stay healthy

Short Breaks support you as parents and carers to:

  • feel better able to manage caring responsibilities/improve your emotional wellbeing
  • provide time to spend with your other children
  • give you the opportunity to complete other tasks you may not otherwise have time to or just to recharge
  • have trust that your child is safe and being well supported by suitably trained staff
  • help you to achieve personal goals and learn new skills
  • allow the opportunity for you to meet other families that share similar experiences create opportunities for your child to enjoy new experiences and friendships

Eligibility for Short Breaks and how to apply

Families living in Lancashire who have a child or children with a disability aged between 0 to 18 are eligible for Lancashire County Council’s Short Breaks Services.

The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as either a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This may include a physical or learning disability, a hearing or visual impairment. It includes children and young people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and children who may have challenging behaviour as a result of a learning disability. It also includes children who have complex needs, who require palliative care, or who have a life limiting or a life-threatening condition.

There are 3 categories of Short Breaks in Lancashire these are known as Universal, Targeted and Specialist.

Universal Short Breaks

Universal or 'mainstream' Short Breaks are everyday community services that are available to use without an assessment.

Universal settings offer a wide range of activities and a chance for disabled young people to mix with non-disabled peers. For example:

  • after school activities
  • child minder and early years settings
  • holiday playschemes
  • drama and music clubs
  • sports activities for example football
  • youth services for example youth clubs
  • uniformed organisations like Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Girl Guiding


Universal services aim to be inclusive and open to disabled people and are clear that they must make reasonable adjustments to support all children and young people to access their service as they have a legal responsibility to do so.

There are no eligibility criteria for accessing universal short breaks. You should contact service providers yourself, to establish what is on offer, any eligibility criteria, the availability of spaces and any financial contribution or charges.

Where you wish to use universal services, you should talk with the service provider to:

  • provide information about your child or young person's additional needs and how to best support them.
  • 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 any risks
  • make a plan for your child or young person starting

You can usually find out what universal services are available in your local area from your child's school, your local library, friends and family or the internet.

The Children and Family Wellbeing Service also has a wide range of services available in the community including groups for young people to attend.

Targeted Short Breaks

Targeted Short Breaks are specific Short Breaks for children and young people with SEND who cannot access universal services without additional support or where these are just not suitable. Targeted Short Breaks may be provided in the evenings, weekends, and school holidays.

Targeted short breaks are not always funded or commissioned by the Council. Other activities are run by organisations such as charities and schools and funded in other ways. Please be aware that some organisations may charge for the activities that they run.

In Lancashire, we have commissioned a range of targeted services - we call this service offer Break Time. The offer is for up to 78 hours of Break Time hours within a financial year (April to March), to attend a more specialised service including playschemes and group activities. These may be provided in the daytime, evenings, weekends, after school and during school holidays.


Children 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 (August) in which they turn 18.
A child or young person has special educational needs and/or disabilities meaning they are unable to access universal services and activities; and the parent and carers are in receipt of child benefit for that child or young person.

Children will live in Lancashire (excluding Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool council areas).
Parents or carers will be asked to complete a registration form, rather than a formalised assessment. Registration for Break Time is open on an annual basis.

Once you have registered you will be given a registration number and then you will be able to contact the Break Time Providers yourself. Information about each provider is available on the website below.

  • The provider may request further information from you to ensure that they are able to meet your child's needs
  • You should talk through your child`s needs with the provider and consider a visit to the venue
  • You can talk through and agree a plan for introductions with your provider
  • You can agree how you will use your allocated hours across the year, so you use the support in a planned way

If you feel the level of support is not sufficient to meet the needs of your family, you may need to request a formal assessment. Please see Specialist Short Breaks in the next section.

Find more information about Break Time activities and how to register.

Specialist Short Breaks

Access to Specialist Short Breaks is based on a child and family assessment, which is prepared by a social worker or a child and family practitioner. The assessment will consider the impact of the child`s disability on family life, parental needs and capacity and the family`s circumstances and wider resources and support network. In undertaking the assessment, they will seek your consent to talk to other professionals involved with your child about their care needs.

The social worker or child and family practitioner will also talk to your child or young person to learn about their aspirations and to understand what is important to them.

Following the assessment, a decision will be made about the best way of providing and funding Short Breaks for your child. This may include services to support you in the home or support to get out and about. For some families the social worker or child and family practitioner may also recommend overnight Short Breaks.

The assessment will be written into a support plan which outlines the services and short breaks that may be appropriate to be provided and how this will meet the child’s or families’ needs and identified outcomes. The social worker or child and family practitioner will also arrange introductions to the services

Support may include:

  • direct payments or personal budgets
  • domiciliary/homecare
  • Break Time Plus
  • fostering short breaks
  • overnight stays in specialist settings

Find more information on the Break Time Plus webpage.

The social worker or child and family practitioner will also provide you with information around Direct Payments and help you to understand the benefits of organising and paying for your own support and employing the people you choose to work with your child. 

We also recognise that the needs of children and their families change, and that a re-assessment of these needs may be required. If you would like your needs re-assessed, please contact the social worker or child and family practitioner who will be able to discuss this with you further.

Parents, carers, and professionals can request an assessment by contacting: 0300 123 6720.


We want to ensure that services are available locally to reduce the time taken and the costs of travel to the activity. Service providers do look to ensure activities are affordable and reduce the costs to you by raising additional funding too.

For Break Time and Break Time Plus activities, service providers should charge a minimum parental contribution of £2 per hour. Families are also expected to contribute towards the costs of a child or young person taking part in a particular Break Time or Break Time Plus activity, for example entrance tickets to an external activity like the zoo or the cinema and associated transport costs.

Children who access Break Time Plus, parents and carers of a child under 16, or a young person aged 16 or over who receives income or employment related benefits, can discuss the costs with their service provider, social worker or child and family practitioner.

Where a child or young person is living in a children’s home or with foster carers, the cost of attending an activity will be met by the carers. Where children and young people are in the care of other local authorities, funding decisions rest with authority.

Co-production and how Short Breaks services will be developed with you

It is vital that our Short Breaks offer is co-produced with parent/carers, young people with SEND and our providers. This helps us to make sure that families get the right support and that we use Short Breaks funding in the best way.

To ensure the Short Breaks offer is fully co-produced we will do this by:

  • Engaging more widely with parent/carers and children and young people through surveys, face to face meetings, polls and focus groups
  • Gather wider feedback as part of our on-going monitoring processes with our providers.
  • Work with our providers through our Provider Forum to share best practice.
  • Work with POWAR to capture children and young people`s voices.
  • Talk to children and young people within their existing social groups and settings, or wherever they feel most comfortable

We will do this by seeking to work with the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum and POWAR.

About the Lancashire Parent Carer Forum

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 parents, 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 .


POWAR is a participation group for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

It is run by Lancashire County Council's Targeted Youth Support and Participation service. POWAR influences decision making and helps to 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 the POWAR webpage.

Feedback we have received

We have received feedback from parent carers, children and young people from an online survey as well as meetings with service providers and parent carers.

129 parent carers completed an online evaluation survey about Break Time.

We asked, "How has your child attending a Break Time activity helped you?"

57% said that “I feel more supported”.

59% said that “My child’s needs are met”.

54% said that hat “I am able to make a choice about what activity is best for my child”.

77% said “The Break Time activity is delivered well /is a good service"

We asked, "How does your child feel about their Break Time activity experience? Which of the following do/would they agree with?"

69% reported that “I enjoy myself”.

34% reported that “I have made friends”.

56% reported that “I like going to Break Time”.

54% reported that “I feel happy/comfortable”.

18% reported that “I am listened to and get what I need”.

5% reported that “I take part in other activities after school"

We asked "What worked well for children and young people":

"My child absolutely loves the outdoor activity centres and has gained so much confidence thanks to these. The session being delivered to very small groups make them accessible to my child".

"My children within group have a new found confidence and have said they feel ‘They belong’ it’s just great to feel heard and have someone in your corner"

"Has changed mine and my child’s life, he happier now he can socialise, and his needs are met, and I am happier seeing him happy and not feelings isolated due to not being at school currently".

"He loves football and playing it with Blackpool FC is incredible. It lifts his self-esteem and it’s great to be surrounded by those with similar issues".

"My son goes and feels like he’s an equal not that he’s being judged by his peers. He can actually have fun and relax"

Parents said the following things worked well for them:

"Given him the chance to access activities that otherwise would be unavailable/inaccessible for him"

"I didn't get any free time before my daughter started attending short breaks provision, now I feel like I can breathe while she has a fantastic time in a safe environment"

"It helps my child get out of the house and interacts with others which is massively important as he doesn't get out otherwise".

"By giving time to do important things (& a break). More importantly the opportunity for my child to mix with others & not be discriminated against. Peace of mind knowing she is safe & happy"

We asked "What did not work well for children and young people":

"There is nothing suitable"

"The nearest place was unsuitable for her needs"

Parents said the following things did not work well for them:

"A lack of services close to our home"

"It's the only support we get and it's wonderful but just nowhere near enough hours. Just enough to get the child settled in the activity for a few weeks then you run out of hours and have no support for another 12 months".

"I am satisfied that my child has been able to attend a group that can support her needs using the break time hours but the amount of hours that are provided is an extra struggle for us to deal with. My child needs such a structured routine, but I am now unable to give her that as she does not have enough break time hours left to attend group once a week"

"Activities are unaffordable and too far to travel"

"Not enough hours for the year for full time working parents who cannot access mainstream clubs for our children"

We would like to say thank you to those who took the time to take part in the survey

Based on what you have told us, we will make recommendations and start taking actions to improve future short breaks. We recognise the importance of Short Breaks Services for children and young people with SEND and their families. By working closely with providers, partners and families we have continued to develop our Short Breaks offer in recent years.

We recognise that increasing demand on services and changing needs mean that it is important that we regularly review the services we commission and deliver. There will be some improvements we can make quickly, and some that will take a little longer, but we will share our progress regularly so you can check that we have got it right at step along the way.

What we are doing/what we have done so far:

For 2023/24 we have launched a digital registration form for Break Time memberships. Parent carers now only need to complete one form and can include eligible siblings. Professionals can also complete registration forms on behalf of a family.

Since the launch of the new Break Time service in 2022 we have welcomed three new Break Time Providers and one more Break Time Plus Provider whose contracts started in January 2023.

There are now:

21 providers registered to deliver Break Time

10 providers registered to deliver Break Time Plus

We recognise that there is more to be done to solve the challenge of not enough Break Time providers. We are working hard to increase the number of providers and continue to actively look for new ones. Network events for schools and external organisations are held on a regular basis.

We recognise that some children and young people have been considerably impacted by the introduction of 78 hours. We are currently working with a range of professionals to improve other leisure and culture opportunities for children and young people with SEND. We intend to develop and grow the opportunities available across Lancashire, so they are suitable for more disabled children in the future.

We will continue to monitor all services, internally and externally delivered, to ensure our Short Breaks offer is good quality and meets the needs of children, young people and families. 

We understand that 78 hours may not meet the needs of all children and young people who have a Break Time membership. Where children have higher or exceptional levels of need a parent carer can request a Children and Family Assessment. This assessment may identify that the child is eligible for Specialist Short Breaks Services as described in Specialist Short Breaks

At the current time, our new Targeted Break Time offer is still developing, and the hours may not yet be able to meet the needs of all children. Currently 78 hours equates to two hours per week during term-time (or an average of 6 hours per week during school holidays) for one year. Every child who is eligible for Break Time receives the same number of hours to use to ensure equity.

We have provided over 100,000 Break Time hours so far.

During 2022/23 more than 1300 children registered to use Break Time.

Priorities for developing short breaks:

  • ensure that the aspirations of children and young people continue to drive our delivery and that their voices are heard
  • make sure that information is clear, accessible, up-to-date and explains how families can access short breaks services
  • continue to increase the range of short break services
  • keep the Break Time offer under review
  • embed the Break Time Plus offer for children and young people in our care and those with an assessed need
  • work with service providers to ensure you continue to be actively involved in the day-to-day planning and delivery of your Short Breaks opportunities


If you have queries relating to Break Time, you can email

If you are unhappy with the support being offered

Each of the commissioned Short Breaks providers will have their complaints procedures, we expect providers to respond to you to put things right quickly.

If you are unhappy about any decisions about your child's Short Breaks, you can email us at

Families and individuals have a right to appeal the assessment of their needs. This can be discussed with the social worker or child and family practitioner who has undertaken the assessment

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

Positive feedback

Feedback helps us to learn what works well and enables us to pass on your recommendations to other families. Parent carers tell us that they find reassurance and support from personal recommendations.

We welcome your feedback, so please share with us your positive experiences by contacting

You can also share your positive experience with friends and family who may benefit from the Short Breaks service.

Measuring impact

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.

We want to ensure our Short Breaks service focuses on improving opportunities for disabled children and young people and their families by working alongside them. We know that their views are essential for future success.

Shaping Short Breaks

By listening to the views and aspirations of children and young people and their parent carers, we will 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.

Using feedback from children, young people, parents, and carers we will continue our work to help children and young people with disabilities to enjoy opportunities to reach their potential and fulfil their ambitions.

We want to make sure short breaks really work for children, young people and families in Lancashire and we can’t do that without you. Your views, comments and thoughts are really important in making sure we get this right.

If you would like to be involved in co-designing short breaks, please get in touch via

We would like to say thank you again to those who have taken the time to give feedback and your views. 

The Short Breaks Duty Statement

The Regulations requires the council to produce a Short Breaks services statement so that families know what services are available, the eligibility criteria for these services, and how the range of Short Breaks is designed to meet the local needs of families with disabled children. The statement is primarily for parents and carers of disabled children aged 0-18 years old.

This statement sets out how the council will seek to meet the Short Breaks duty as set out in the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011. This section of the statement summarises paragraph 6(1)(c) of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989 which requires local authorities to provide services designed to give breaks for carers of disabled children. You can view the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011 on GOV.UK.

This short break statement will be kept under consistent review so that it can be updated with the latest information about Lancashire County Councils Short breaks offer.

Any queries on the process for producing the statement should be addressed to Lisa Taylor, Policy Information and Commissioning Manager and/or Clive Groves, Designated Social Care Officer.

If you have any questions about Short Breaks or would like to be involved in the design and development of Short Breaks Services in Lancashire County Council, please contact