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4.4 Short Breaks for Disabled Children

RELATED GUIDANCE

AMENDMENT

In August 2017, the above link was added to Friendship For All (The Children’s Society).


Contents

  1. The Legal Basis for Short Breaks
  2. Assessment of Needs
  3. Procedure for Short Breaks provided by Early Help Supporting Families Team as part of the Education Health and Care Plan
  4. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 17 (overnight or day provision)
  5. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 20 Children Act 1989 (Section 48 applies)
  6. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 20 Children Act 1989 (Regulation 48 does not apply)

    Appendix 1: Minimum Standards for Children in Need with Disabilities


1. The Legal Basis for Short Breaks

The legal basis upon which services are provided by the Local authority to children and young people and their families should be clear. Support for children and young people with disabilities and their families in Newcastle is delivered proportionate to need within local services following the duties set out within a range of legislation and statutory guidance as shown below: 

  • Within Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA) which sets out the schedule of entitlements & provisions for disabled children and young people and their families;
  • Short Breaks Statutory guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks;
  • The Care Planning Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the accompanying Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice sets out a duty upon the local authority to provide information advice and support to families, children and young people with SEND. The accompanying personal budget regulations provide a right to families and disabled young people to request short break provision/and/or a personal budget where the child or young person has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC plan). Depending on the level of need assessed Children’s Social Care contribute to a co-ordinated delivery of provision within an EHC plan and participate in the EHC assessment, planning and review system;
  • Under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, the Local Authority has a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children ‘in need’ and where it is consistent with that duty to promote their upbringing by their families by providing a range and level of services appropriate to their needs;
  • Children with disabilities are defined under Section 17 as Children in Need (CIN). Support provided under Section 17 can be provided by the Early Help Supporting Families Team based within the Children with Disabilities Service, which will offer advice and signposting or an Early Help Plan. If the level of need for services is assessed as complex and needing ongoing support the child or young person will be referred for allocation to a social worker and a Child and Family Assessment will be carried out. More information about how the assessment and provision of services is assessed and delivered is explained in the document “Access to Support from the Children with Disabilities Service (Agreed July 2015)”. Short break provision under Section 17 can therefore be accessed as part of either an Early Help Plan or a CIN plan which may include the provision of overnight stays;
  • Under Section 20 Children Act 1989, where Regulation 48 does apply (with short breaks of up to 17 days continuously in the same provision or where the total number of placement days does not exceed 75 in any 12-month period). Lighter touch arrangements will apply as specified under regulation 48 (3) In this case, the child will enter the Looked After system under short break guidance, an Independent Reviewing Officer must be appointed, and a Child In Need Plan created and the plan will be reviewed on a regular basis;
  • Under Section 20 Children Act 1989, where regulation 48 does not apply, where the short breaks exceed a total of 17 days block nights and goes over 75 days in a 12-month period and / or takes place in more than one setting. In this case, the child enters the looked after system, an Independent Reviewing Officer must be appointed and a Looked After Child Plan created and the plan will be reviewed on a regular basis.


2. Assessment of Needs

During the assessment process the social worker will consider the impact of the child’s disability upon their own needs as well as wider impact within the family. The social worker will establish within the assessment whether the  schedule of entitlements and provisions outlined in the CSDPA 1970 section 2 are required to meet the child’s needs and if so discuss how the schedule of provision can be delivered with the family.

A key question to ask in deciding whether to provide short break provision is how to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child most effectively and whether the provision will be defined as:

  • Social Care (Early Help) provision solely as part of the Education Health and Care Plan;
  • Under Section 17 of the Children Act;
  • Under Section 20 of the Children Act.

Before making the decision as to what is the most appropriate legal basis for providing short breaks there should be a careful assessment of the child and family's needs, the wider family and environmental factors and the nature of the service to be provided, including:

  • Particular vulnerabilities of the child, including communication method;
  • Parenting capacity of the parents within their family and environmental context;
  • The length of time away from home and the frequency of such stays;
  • Whether short breaks are to be provided in more than one place;
  • Potential impact on the child's place in the family and on primary attachments;
  • Observation of the child (especially children who do not communicate verbally) during or immediately after the break by a person familiar with the mood and behaviour of the child (e.g. parents or school staff);
  • Views of the child and parents need to be essential to all planning and assessments.
The outcome of the assessment should be discussed with the team manager, in order to decide which route to follow i.e. provision solely through the Education Health and Care Plan or under Section 17 or Section 20 of the Children’s Act and this needs to be highlighted in the analysis of the assessment.


3. Procedure for Short Breaks provided by Early Help Supporting Families Team as part of the Education Health and Care Plan

In circumstances in which an EHC plan is being considered for a child, Children’s Social Care will provide information to inform a decision by the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service within 6 weeks. Where there is a decision to issue an EHC plan children’s social care will provide information to the (SEND) service, or work with the family and EHC caseworker in order to set out the social care information advice and support available. This will be achieved within 10 weeks and support will be provided solely through the EHC plan and Early Help Supporting Families Team because there are no significant issues concerning the families parenting capacity as understood from the joint EHC assessment. It would be therefore disproportionate to bring the family into the Child and Family Assessment process.

The social care information advice and support that is offered will be part of the EHC plan and reviewed as part of the EHC reviewing and monitoring system jointly with multi-disciplinary colleagues led by Education.

The EHC plan can include support from community and voluntary sector resources, targeted support provided via short break commissioning and small grants.

The EHC plan will be reviewed once a year and during this process the child’s need for social care assessment advice or support will be considered and responded to if necessary.


4. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 17 (overnight or day provision)

The local authority has powers under Section 17(6) of the 1989 Act, to provide accommodation as part of a range of services, in order to carry out their general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need.  If the child and family’s needs are more complex a Single Assessment within Section 17 will be completed and the provision of services will be set out in a Child in Need (CIN) Short Break Care Plan as explained above in section 1 and 2 of this chapter.

The CIN Short Break Care Plan will set out clearly all the services that are to be provided to support children/young people and their families.  Where possible the plan should include the full range of support services provided by the family and other agencies. The CIN Short Break Support Plan will show how services and short breaks will meet the needs of the child and family identified in the assessment and: 

  • Have clear and realistic outcomes;
  • Include the ascertainable wishes of the child and views of the family;
  • Follow consideration of options, including but not limited to direct payments;
  • State the nature of and how often the support is provided.

If the assessment has concluded that overnight stays would be beneficial then introductory visits for overnight stays should take place at regular intervals. This should be agreed within the care planning meeting following the assessment involving parents/person(s) with parental responsibility and should be recorded in the CIN Short Break Care Plan before the start of the first stay.

Significant change to the plan should be considered at a CIN Review or following further assessment. Reviews may be arranged earlier, e.g. at the request of the child, parents or carer; or in cases where the circumstances change.

Review of the CIN Short Break Care Plan provided under Section 17

Children who receive short breaks under Section 17 are not Looked After and are categorised as ’Support and Commissioning’, Children’s Social Care are involved to provide advice support and services and there are no known concerns about their parents capacity to meet their child’s needs. In such cases intervention, monitoring and reviewing should be proportionate. There is no need for an Independent Reviewing Officer to be appointed and the requirements and regulations which usually apply to looked after children in relation to health assessments and reports, and notification of placements, do not apply.

It is the responsibility of the social worker to arrange and co-ordinate the review of the CIN Short Break Care Plan. The first review of the plans should be completed at three months and thereafter every six months. The Review needs to include the family and all agencies involved in supporting the child and family. The meeting will be chaired by the allocated social worker.

Children’s Social Care use a person centred approach. This is to:

  • Ensure the child / young person is central to the process and the child is seen and their views sought;
  • Ensure the service(s) provided is meeting the needs identified in the Child Plan and this is safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child;
  • Focus on outcomes for the child and family: It is important to identify what aspects of the plan are going well, what has not worked so well to inform any changes;
  • Ensure the review should include the monitoring of direct payments and associated services provided when Direct Payments are being used.

In each case the review should consider whether this continues to be the most appropriate legislative basis for the service/s to be provided to the child/young person and their family.

A record should be kept recording the views of those involved in the review including the decisions/ actions agreed and the agreed person(s) responsible for completing these actions with clear timescales. Parents/carers, the child and relevant others should receive a signed copy of the plan.

Visiting and monitoring arrangements by social workers under Section 17 CIN (including Support and Commissioning).

The required visiting and Care Team meeting pattern for CIN take place as directed by Statutory Guidance (four weekly visits, four weekly care team meetings) unless the Child in Need is a child with disabilities and has been classified by the Team Manager as “Short break Looked After Child (LAC)” or as “Support and Commissioning”.

The minimum visiting arrangements for a Child in Need under Section 17 classified as “Support and Commissioning” who is not provided with overnight short breaks is one visit between each review (see Short Break Statutory Guidance).

The minimum visiting arrangements for a Child in Need under Section 17 classified as “Support and Commissioning’’  who is provided with overnight stays is 2 visits between reviews one of which should be in the home and one in the commissioned provision. To ensure a regular visiting pattern these visits should take place, one month prior to the CIN review (in order to inform the review and to obtain the child/young persons’ views) and two months following a CIN review. The venue of these visits alternating between the family home and the commissioned provision wherever possible.

This is a minimum requirement, the frequency of visits should reflect the need for support and be agreed with the family/care team and be reflected in the CIN Short Break Care Plan.

For children in need classified as “Support and Commissioning” there is no minimum requirement to hold care team meetings but these may be necessary and/or helpful for some children.

In supervision and in consultation with the team manager classifications of CIN will be reviewed and consideration given to whether additional visiting and monitoring is required e.g. where there are more complex issues visits would be expected to be at a higher level. This can include seeing the child in a range of settings including school.


5. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 20 Children Act 1989 (Section 48 applies)

If accommodation is provided under section 20(4) for a continuous period of more than 24 hours, then the child is looked after by the local authority for the period in which the child is accommodated.

If the child is looked after, then the placement must be a placement with local authority foster carer, in a registered children’s home; or in another appropriate arrangement, under section 22c of the Children Act (1989). However the regulations are modified to reduce the administrative load and ensure requirements are more proportionate to the needs of children in short breaks.

Regulation 48 allows for a series of pre-planned short breaks for a particular child in the same placement to be treated as a single placement for purposes of applying the Regulations. In these cases, the planning arrangements required by the regulations are modified in respect of short break so that they are more appropriate for situations where the child’s parents are effectively planning for their child’s future and the child is provided with a series of short breaks as a measure of family support.

When overnight short breaks are to be provided and placement identified, introductory visits need to be planned and agreed within the care planning meeting involving parents / carer / child where possible. This should be recorded in the Short Break Support Plan before the start of the first overnight stay.

The reasons why the council would decide to provide accommodation under section 20(4) of the Children’s Act with regulation 48 applying rather than provide overnight support through Section 17 is because an independent chair of reviews (Independent Reviewing Officer) and a greater level of co-ordination from a social worker is required. This is usually because there are a series of complex circumstances involved in the child’s care and/or development. This may include a combination of issues which when considered together point to a need for a greater level of intervention e.g. siblings with disabilities or risks, parental illness or disability, parenting, housing, environmental factors and very complex fluctuating health conditions.

Child in Need (CIN) Short Break Care Plan under Section 20 (Regulation 48 applies)

These plans are relevant where short breaks are provided under Section 20, and should include detailed information in relation to the child's communication, health care plan, lifting/moving, behaviour management.

The plan should set out clearly all the services that are to be provided to meet the child's needs. Many families with disabled children receive a range of services to meet the child's needs. Where possible the plan should include the full range of family support services on a multi-agency basis and have:

  • Clear and realistic objectives;
  • Include the ascertainable wishes of the child and views of the family;
  • Follow consideration of options, including but not limited to direct payments;
  • State the nature of and frequency of the support provided.

No significant change should be made to the plan unless this has been considered at a review or following further assessment. Reviews may be arranged earlier, e.g. at the request of the child, parents or carer; or in cases where the circumstances change.

Review of the Short Break Care Plan provided under section 20 (Regulation 48 applies)

All reviews under these arrangements are chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). The initial review of the plan must take place within 3 months and six monthly thereafter. In each case the review should consider whether this continues to be the most appropriate legislative basis for the service/s to be provided. 

Visiting and Monitoring Arrangements under section 20 (Regulation 48 applies)

As a minimum requirement a care team meeting must be convened on at least one occasion between reviews.

The minimum visiting arrangements under section 20 (Regulation 48 applies) are 2 visits between reviews one of which should be in the home and one in the placement. To ensure a regular visiting pattern these visits should take place, one month prior to the CIN review (in order to inform the review and to obtain the child/young persons’ views) and two months following a CIN review. The venue of these visits alternating between the family home and the placement wherever possible.


6. Procedure for Short Breaks under Section 20 Children Act 1989 (Regulation 48 does not apply)

A Child is provided with accommodation under Section 20(4) for a continuous period of more than 24 hours and; exceed timescales, set out above in section 1, be complex or involve multiple providers. In these circumstances the LAC regulations apply and there are no modifications to standard Children’s Social Care procedures for Looked After Children in Section 6, Looked After Children of this procedures manual. The child will be subject to a LAC Care Plan and the first review must take place within 20 days of the placement and the second review within three months of the initial review.

End