On 27 January 2015, Cllr Jackie Drayton, Director of Children’s Services Jayne Ludlam and several senior officers met with parents of disabled children to report back on findings from a consultation on short break and respite services held last year, and to discuss ideas and thinking to date ahead of a comprehensive consultation later in the spring.
Officers outlined the financial challenges facing the council (a further cut of £63m in 2015/16). According to the Equality Impact Assessment, £550,000 will need to be saved from the short breaks/respite budget. The council budget for the next financial year will be agreed at a full council meeting on 6 March. Click here to download the draft revenue budget.
Cllr Drayton pledged to protect services to children, young people and families as much as possible in a climate of decreasing budgets.
Taking account of the feedback from last year’s consultation, the following ideas were presented for discussion with parents to address the budget savings needed in this area:
- Reducing overheads and making the best use of resources by working more closely with health, education and adult social care services; for example, by combining respite centres for children with medical needs.
- Adressing a gap in short break provision for young adults by changing the remit of one of the three children’s respite centres (Gibson House, Rushey Meadow, and Mulberry Lodge) to provide daytime and overnight care for young people aged 18-25 years. Officers said that parents had identified a gap in short break provision for this age group, with many describing the transition to adult services as “falling off a cliff edge”. They advised that the detail would need to be worked through to understand what this would mean for the children currently attending these centres.
- Recruiting more foster carers to provide overnight respite. Officers emphasised the need for parental choice, and acknowledged that for some children, overnight foster placements were unsuitable.
- Offering the short break grant as part of (rather than in addition to) the short break service offer. This would mean that parents would have to choose between the grant and a short break service. Feedback from last year’s consultation indicated that the grant is very popular with parents, as it saves on the paperwork associated with direct payments, offers flexibility and is especially helpful when there are no appropriate local services.
- Reviewing the provision of transport to short break services
- Where a disabled child is supported to access a mainstream leisure activity, asking parents to pay the same activity costs as parents of non-disabled children, while continuing to fund the extra support needed to enable the disabled child to participate. It was not clear which type of short break provision this would apply to, e.g. SNIPS, direct payments.
- Officers emphasized that these were merely ideas, not fully-fledged proposals, and that they wanted to work in partnership with parents to develop these further – as well as any other ideas that may develop as part of the discussions.
- Many local authorities are currently reviewing their short break service offer, and officers gave a few examples of proposals being taken forward in other areas. These are included in the Powerpoint presentation.
- Parents and officers had an opportunity to explore the ideas in the presentation, along with any other ideas that came out of the discussions.
An additional feedback/consultation meeting has been arranged for:
Tuesday 17 March, 10.30am-1pm, at The Circle, VAS, 33 Rockingham Lane
If you would like to attend, please contact Maria Glover on email@example.com or tel. 0114 2735685.
A comprehensive consultation will take place over the next few months, starting in April/May 2015. No changes will be made until the consultation has been completed.
Download the Powerpoint presentation