Less money for Short Breaks despite record investment

In December 2010, the Children’s Minister announced that the Government will be providing local authorities with £800m over the next four years to fund short breaks for families with disabled children. This represents approx £200m per year, the highest ever investment in short breaks.

From April 2011, funding for short breaks will be included within the new Early Intervention Grant. This grant also funds services such as Sure Start, youth services, and MASTs (Multi-Agency Support Teams). The short breaks money will not be ring-fenced. This means that local authorities can choose to spend it on other things.

Parents' protests save respite care home

When plans to close Rushey Meadow, a respite care home for children with severe learning difficulties in Bannerdale Road, were published in the Sheffield Star, parents of children who use the centre were devastated.

Plans outlined in the council’s 2011/12 budget proposed to save £120,000 by giving families personalised budgets from which to purchase their own respite care.

1million for exceptional needs in mainstream

Sheffield City Council has allocated an extra £1m to pilot a new way of funding support for pupils with exceptional needs in mainstream schools.

The extra funding will be devolved to 5-10 “families of schools” (each family consists of a secondary school and its feeder primary schools and nurseries). The schools in each family will need to agree which pupils should benefit, and how they should be supported. The intention is to target pupils who, without this additional support, might otherwise transfer into special schools or IRs, or be at risk of being excluded.

Parent Carer Conference

Around 100 parents and professionals attended the Forum’s 3rd Parent Carer Conference. The event took place on the 11th of October 2010, at St. Mary’s Church and Conference Centre in Sheffield.

The morning session featured a presentation by Mary Collins, Principal Educational Psychologist, about a proposed new strategy for meeting additional needs in Sheffield’s schools (the Inclusive Learning Strategy). Parents then got together in groups to discuss different aspects of the strategy and note down key points. The outcomes of these discussions were fed into the Council’s consultation on the Inclusive Learning Strategy, and also the government’s call for views for a forthcoming Green Paper on SEN.

Short breaks Q&A

Fundamentally a short break can be anything that provides the primary carer of a disabled child/young person a break from the additional responsibilities that this brings.  Short breaks can be overnight or day care and take place in a wide variety of settings.

During 10/11 Sheffield City Council received £2,025,000 revenue funding and a further £787,000 capital funding to support the transformation of short breaks.  This is in addition to the money that is already being spent on Short Breaks in the city, which is in excess of £4,000,000 per annum.

Fun in the Park

Disabled children and their parents, carers and siblings enjoyed a fun-filled day at Norfolk Heritage Park, courtesy of Sheffield Parent Carer Forum.

Glorious sunshine and a good mix of indoor and outdoor attractions meant that even with a record turnout of over 300 people, nobody had to wait long to try out the activities.

Two bouncy castles and a set of orienteering trails around the park proved a popular way to burn off some energy, while arts and crafts activities provided more sedate entertainment. Children in need of some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle had the opportunity to retreat to a “chill-out” room with fairy lights and sensory toys.