Short breaks provide opportunities for disabled children and young people to spend time away from their families and have fun. They also provide families with a break from their caring responsibilities.
Keeping you informed
Short Breaks update
We keep families and professionals informed through the monthly Short Breaks Update bulletin. If you would like to receive your own copy of the Short Breaks Update, please email your request to be added to the mailing list.
If you would like an archive issue, then email us.
We also have a Facebook group page - Oxfordshire SEND Families Together. This is a group for parents of children and young people with impairments living in or near Oxfordshire. The group page is designed for sharing information, activities, events that will be useful and relevant to families. It is also open to professionals working with these families.
Our Short Breaks statement
Read our Short Breaks statement (pdf format, 806Kb) to find out what short break support we are providing and what short breaks are available that could work for your child.
The Local Offer
The Local Offer for SEN and Disability (SEND) brings together information about education, health and care services for children and young people from 0 to 25 with SEND.
Who provides Short Breaks?
We have commissioned a variety of organisations to provide short breaks for disabled children and their families. Some activities may incur a charge. Please see:
2020-2021 Report on Short Breaks Services for disabled children, young people and families - Executive Summary. (pdf format, 280Kb) Should you wish to have a copy of the full report, please email Danny Hearn with your request.
After school clubs
- Bardwell School provides after school activity clubs, three days a week for disabled children and young people (5-18) from Bardwell School, Bicester.
- Barnardos run after school clubs at Springfield Special School, Witney and Kingfisher Special School, Abingdon.
- Bishopswood School provide an after school club, three days a week for disabled children and young people (5-18) from Bishopswood School, Sonning Common and the local area.
- Kids run an After School club at John Watson School for disabled children and young people (5–18 years)
- The Let’s Play Project provides after school activities for disabled children and young people (5-18 years) in Banbury.
- Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (AFSO) provides youth groups for children and young people (8–18 years) Asperger's Syndrome / high functioning autism. The youth groups are based in Oxford and Abingdon.
- Bardwell School provides a youth group for disabled children and young people (11-18) in the Bicester and Kidlington area.
- Let’s Play provide a youth group in Banbury for disabled children and young people (11-18 years).
- Yellow Submarine runs activities across Oxfordshire for young people aged 11-18 years supporting young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities and or/Autism. Regrettably they cannot support those with PMLD, complex needs or physical disabilities. Yellow Submarine operate term time youth clubs in Abingdon/Didcot, Oxford and Witney.
- Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (AFSO) provides holiday activities for children and young people (8–18 years) with Asperger's Syndrome/high functioning autism. This is available across the county.
- Bardwell School provides holiday activities for disabled children and young people (5-18) in the Bicester and Kidlington area.
- Barnardos provide holiday playschemes at Springfield Special School, Witney and Kingfisher Special School, Abingdon for disabled children and young people (5-18 years).
- Bishopswood School provides holiday playscheme activities, three days a week for disabled children and young people (5-18) from Bishopswood School, Sonning Common.
- Fitzwaryn School provides holiday activities for disabled children and young people (5-18) in the Wantage area.
- Kids offer holiday playscheme activities at John Watson School in the Wheatley area for disabled children and young people (5-18 years)
- The Let’s Play Project provides a variety of holiday activities.
- The Parasol Project provides an inclusive holiday playscheme for children aged five to 12 years. The playscheme runs during the school holidays at Tower Playscheme on the Northway estate in Oxford four days a week. Activities include arts and crafts, sports and games, play base cinema, gardening, discos, soft play and visits from special guests such as magicians and animal handlers.
Teenage holiday activities
- The Parasol Project run age-appropriate teenage activities in all school holidays and during term time for young people aged 12 to 18 years. All our activities are for disabled and non-disabled young people to take part in together. Activities are selected by our teenage users and range from creative ‘in days’ to adventurous canoeing days and everything in between.
- Yellow Submarine runs activities across Oxfordshire for young people aged 11-18 years supporting young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities and or/autism. Regrettably, they cannot support those with PMLD, complex needs or physical disabilities. There are exciting activity days during the school holidays; including explore days, multi-sports and forest days based in Abingdon, Oxford and Witney.
- Yellow Submarine also delivers holiday activities for students from Abingdon and Witney College aged 16-18 years.
- Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (AFSO) also provides family support for families who have a child (aged 0 -18 years) diagnosed with autism, or on the autism spectrum. This is available across the county. For more information http://www.afso.org.uk/contact-us/
Children attending a special school
Out-of-school liaison officers (OSLOs) can help you to find out-of-school and short-break activities for your child. Contact your child's special school for further details. If there is not an OSLO in the school please contact the Disability Information Officer on 07554 330244 or email email@example.com
Children attending a mainstream school
The Disability Information Officer is based in the Oxfordshire Family Information Service and can help you find out of school and short break activities for your child. Contact the Family Information Service for further details. You can also contact the Family Information Service through the FIS Facebook page and Twitter account.
To find more information on activities and organisations supporting disabled children and young people, please see the Family Information Directory.
To find information on things to do and places to go near you for young people living in Oxfordshire, go to Activities Oxfordshire.
Inclusion Support Scheme (Short Breaks) and Short Breaks Transport Scheme
If you need help paying for transport, fees or extra support to access activities, funding is available through the Inclusion Support Scheme (Short Breaks) and the Short Breaks Transport Scheme.
- Criteria for the Inclusion Support Scheme (Short Breaks) (pdf format, 133Kb)
- Criteria for the Short Breaks transport scheme (pdf format, 137Kb)
Who can apply
Funding can only be accessed by families on low income/benefits with disabled children aged 5-17 years. The priority for this scheme is to support access to out-of-school activities and/or holiday activities.
How to apply
Applications for this funding can only be made by Out of School Liaison Officers (OSLOs), Children's Disability Social Workers or the Disability Information Officer based at the Oxfordshire Family Information Service.
Early Years Inclusion Support Scheme
The Early Years Inclusion Support Scheme aims to promote inclusion and remove the barriers to play, childcare and leisure for disabled children and young people with funding to help with the costs of childcare for disabled children and young people. It is available for children and young people under five years of age with impairments or emotional, behavioural or learning difficulties who would otherwise be prevented from taking part.
Applications must support children aged under five years with the highest need from families on a low income.
For children aged under five years, a maximum of £250 can be paid in any one year. However, there is no entitlement to this maximum amount.
The funding is for short-term support, e.g. for a term, or during a holiday playscheme
Enabler Support Scheme
The Enabler Support Scheme is to promote inclusion and remove the barriers to play, childcare and leisure for disabled children and young people.
Funding can pay for:
- additional staff/enabler hours
- support from specialist organisations to enable children to access a setting by training existing staff to gain skills/ knowledge and child-specific training necessary to meet individual needs.
- equipment; if there are no other funding mechanisms to do this and this will enable a child or young person to attend an inclusive setting.
Funding will be prioritised for:
- support for children and young people to attend more local mainstream settings
- support teenagers in preparing to move into adulthood
- support for Early Years children
- support for working families to access childcare for children and young people
- any other enabler situation that meets the criteria
How to apply
Applications for this funding can be made by
- Out of School Liaison Officers (OSLOs)
- Children's Disability Social Workers
- Disability Information Officer (Oxon FIS)
- Individual groups as agreed by Danny Hearn
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Max Card - discount scheme
The Max Card is a discount card for families of disabled children and children with additional needs.
Families show their Max Card, upon entry to a venue, to obtain free or discounted admission. It is designed to help families save money on great days out at castles, zoos, bowling alleys and lots more.
The card is free to families in Oxfordshire. It has been funded by Oxfordshire County Council working in partnership with Action for Carers (Oxfordshire).
More information is available at http://www.mymaxcard.co.uk/what-is-max-card
How we recommissioned our Short Breaks and respite care services
Over the past ten years, the County Council and NHS in Oxfordshire have worked together to develop a range of services for children with disabilities.
Services have been developed in response to changing needs, new statutory frameworks, engagement with parents, carers and children, and in response to opportunities for central government grant funding. At the forefront of this joint working was the joint commissioning of residential care services for children in 2007. Community-based Short Breaks services followed and began in 2009.
All the current contracted services have been recommissioned with new contracts from April 2017. At the same time, there was a requirement for the council to achieve significant savings across the local authority. The particular savings to be made in services for disabled children, young people and families were £250,000 from a Short Breaks budget of approximately £3.2m.
The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funds approximately £800,000 of services but currently do not have a requirement to make savings in this area. Instead, the CCG is looking at how to manage the overspending budgets in Children’s Continuing Care. Those savings are not part of this recommissioning.
What we recommissioned
- Community Short Breaks and childcare, to include:
- out of school services (holiday play schemes and after school clubs)
- teenage activities (holiday activities and youth groups)
- specialist service for children and young people with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (holiday activities, youth groups and family support)
- Specialist residential respite and short breaks service (overnight breaks)
- The Children’s Home for children with disabilities
How we decided what short break services we needed in Oxfordshire
The council involved a wide range of people through workshops and focus groups. This included parents/ carers, short breaks providers and other professionals. The council looked at where services were used if there were any gaps in services and what has worked well or not worked well and why. This information helped us to decide where to locate new services to better support families with a disabled child(ren) in Oxfordshire.
We also asked which services were most valuable through a survey. There were 587 responses in total, with 386 from parents/ carers and 192 from providers and professionals. These responses were very helpful to us in shaping the types of services commissioned.
What parents/carers have told us
Families told us how important it is that services that they are using continue and this was reflected in the service specifications for organisations who were expected to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of service. Any changes being planned were in partnership with the people using the services over time to better reflect their needs
Families using the Residential Short breaks were complimentary and supportive. The service being tendered was based on the current service with a future development being support and recruitment of Short Breaks Foster Carers.
Families were not asked to comment on the Children’s Home.
|You said||We did|
|How valuable holiday activities, after school and youth activities are to you||We are commissioning these services. We know there is less money available but we are asking providers to work with us to make the best use of the money, make services available where they are most needed, seek alternative sources of funding and use volunteers and other resources in the community.|
|That your child needs to be able to socialise with other children||All of the services will be expected to offer high-quality play opportunities for your child.|
|You must know that your child will be safely cared for||Every provider will be required to ensure that all staff have the appropriate skills and level of training to meet the needs of individual children and young people and keep them safe.|
|These services make it able for you to work||There will be holiday and afterschool services to support working families. The way we are doing this is by working with mainstream providers to support disabled children. We are also asking commissioned short breaks providers to work flexibly with families to meet the needs of working families where they can. This will depend on the availability of suitable venues. As there is less money available commissioned services will need to be targeted in areas where there is most need.|
|These services give you a short break to have time for yourself or other members of your family||Short breaks services promote activities for your child whilst you have time for yourself and your family.|
|If there is a change in service provider, the service must continue to provide you with a short break.||Providers will continue to provide current services; these will change and develop in partnership in line with the needs of families.|
|You need to be kept up to date about what's happening especially if there will be a change to the service you are currently getting||The Short Breaks Update will give you the latest news and information. Bulletins are available on the Short breaks for disabled children webpage (older copies are available by emailing email@example.com).|
What short breaks providers and other professionals have told us
Professionals' views mirrored the families about the Community Short Breaks and Childcare and the Residential Respite and Short Breaks Service.
|You said||We did|
|Holiday, after school and youth activities are vital for families.||We have recommissioned these services.|
|The needs of these children are complex and they need to be cared for by experienced and skilled staff.||Providers will need to ensure that their workers have the correct experience and skills to care for the children.|
|Holiday, after school and youth activities allow the young people to be included in new experiences, build close friendships and enjoy themselves.||New services will be measured against outcomes that ensure this will happen. Providers will need to show evidence that this happens. Regular feedback from families is also required.|
|How important it is for some families to have support from an experienced professional outside of group activities.||Families will still be able to access support from professionals outside of group activities through Social Care, School and the Family Information Service.|
Links to other information
If you are worried about a child or a young person, report it. Remember, safeguarding is everyone’s business. Our website brings together information for children, young people & their families, as well as the professionals who work with them.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance is a coalition of organisations and individuals working together to stop bullying and create safe environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn.
ABA defines bullying as ‘the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power’.
Bullying can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or online.