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Short breaks are activities, outside of the home, for children with special educational needs and disabilities. They provide a break for both parents/carers and the child.

Children with SEN and disabilities benefit from opportunities to join in with new activities away from home that allow them to meet new friends, develop their independence and pursue further interests. This can of course also benefit families and carers giving them a little break from their caring responsibilities. 

We have a wide range of activities and groups on offer throughout the borough, from mainstream to specialist activities.

What are short breaks?

  • Families who have disabled children can sometimes benefit from a break from their caring responsibilities.
  • Short breaks services assist carers to provide care or to do so more effectively.
  • Taking a short break from caring can be a benefit for you and your child. For you it can be an opportunity to spend time with others, or recharge your batteries. For your child they can have a change of scenery, try new things and/or make new friends.

How do I access short breaks?

You can contact our access team directly or be referred from your practitioner.  

Telephone: 0300 555 0050 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)

For Practitioners and those working with children referrals should be made by completing a Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF).

Following a referral a social worker will contact you to discuss your request to access a short break. In line with the eligibility criteria you will be provided with the right level of support appropriate to your needs. This can be through universal, targeted early help or statutory social care services.

The Small Bids Programme

The Small Bids Programme is part of Short Breaks. Applications for funding are invited from organisations, groups and departments (not individuals) to provide social activities that are outside of school / school hours for disabled children or for disabled children and their families. To follow the ethos of ‘short breaks’, activities bid for should be fun, safe and life enhancing for the child or young person.

Find out more on the Small Bids Programme and how to apply.


It is recommended that parents or professionals give as much information as possible about the child/young person's disability; this enables us to ensure that the right services are provided at the right time to meet individual needs and to ensure the families have the appropriate support.

Any enquiries over the phone MUST be followed up by the completion of the Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF).

We have a duty to provide short breaks services under the Children Act 1989 (Section 17) and Short Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations (April 2011).