Surrey Short Breaks for Disabled Children

What are Short Breaks?

Short Breaks offer a range of creative, flexible, fun play and leisure activities in local communities for children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities (AN and D). The purpose of Short Breaks is to:

  • Develop the skills, confidence, independence and readiness for adulthood of children and young people (CYP) with AN&D and enable them to have fun and make friends
  • Improve their emotional and physical health, as well as their ability to communicate their feelings and preferences and their social skills, both through their relationships with other children and through developing supportive and trusting relationships with adults – thereby also supporting positive behaviour.
  • Support positive outcomes for parents, by providing parents and carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities, so they are empowered to look after their own emotional and physical health and wellbeing and provide better and more sustainable care to other family members.
  • Support positive outcomes for whole families, including greater family cohesion and improved relationships.

Families can find out about and access Short Breaks by contacting providers directly, and information is also available on the Surrey Local Offer website.

Surrey Short Breaks Statement

Each local authority must publish a statement about Short Breaks services in their area, so that families with disabled children need clear information to access services. The statement must be kept under review, and it should be revised when new services become available, or when there are changes to existing services.

The Surrey Short Breaks statement for 2021 reflects changes to Short Breaks services and the phased reopening of these services post-lockdown.

Changes to Short Breaks services in Surrey from April 2023


We are now able to provide some key information about new Short Breaks services, which will be in place from April 2023. Our current contracts for these services end in March 2023, so we were legally required to recommission them so that services can continue.

We are entering into new contracts with providers for these services from 1 April 2023 and this will mean there are some changes to services, but all of the current local play and leisure service providers who bid to deliver these services are receiving ongoing funding.

We will maintain the budget at the same level as 2022/23 and are allocating enough funding to maintain current capacity of overnight respite services, so we are able to fund two-thirds of the current capacity in community-based play and youth schemes for children with disabilities.

Providers are currently planning their delivery, and further details will be published early in the New Year, before bookings open. This will include the locations of services and how to apply for them.

Therefore, the services commencing on 1 April cannot be booked at the moment and there is nothing you need to do now to request or book these services.

Meanwhile, current services will continue to 31 March 2023, and providers will support families in making smooth transitions to new services where necessary.

If you have any questions about Short Breaks, or about the information in this statement, you can email the Children, Families and Lifelong Learning Commissioning Team at:

Additional Information

High-quality Short Breaks Services make a real difference to the lives of children and young people with disabilities and their families in Surrey. They provide children and young people with positive experiences where they can make friends, increase their confidence and improve their emotional and physical health. They also give parents and carers a break from their caring responsibilities to support their own wellbeing and spend time with other family members, and support positive outcomes for whole families.

Whenever new contracts are issued for services, there is an opportunity for learning and improvement and we have engaged with families, providers and partners to help us focus on the things that are most important. Despite this, we appreciate that any period of change will cause uncertainty for some families.

We will maintain the budget at the same level as 2022 to 2023 for these important services, at a time of real challenge for public finances, when we are all facing increased costs. We also have a statutory duty to deliver a balanced budget and this means we have not been able to increase the budget for Short Breaks services for these new contracts.

We are allocating enough funding to maintain current capacity of overnight respite services for children who have been assessed as needing them, so that we fulfil statutory commitments in children's care plans.

Prioritising funding to fulfil these commitments, when providers are facing increased costs to deliver their services, means that we are able to fund two-thirds of the current capacity in community-based play and youth schemes for children with disabilities.
Whilst a considerable volume of these services will continue to be funded, we understand that this will be challenging news for children, young people and families, and that the difficult decisions taken will mean that some individuals receive less support than they did before. We are taking steps to mitigate this by, for example:

  • allocating a share of the funding available to each of the providers currently funded by SCC to deliver play and leisure Short Breaks in Surrey and who have bid for ongoing funding - providing continuity and minimising change for many families;
  • placing a stronger focus on supporting children with more complex additional needs and disabilities, and their families, who are more likely to require specialist support;
  • recognising that Short Breaks form part of a diverse range of services and support for children with disabilities and their families in Surrey – both those provided and commissioned by Surrey County Council and other services in the community – and working with colleagues and providers to ensure the best information possible is available through the Surrey Local Offer and other channels;
  • working with our provider partners and others to make the best of the funding that is available;
  • encouraging collaboration with and between providers to promote access to services for families across the county, whilst we also look to bring other funding into Surrey in the future; and
  • working with providers as they plan services, and with Family Voice Surrey (FVS), to ensure clear, detailed information is made available to families as soon as possible about the services available.

Going forward, we will work with providers, partners and families as we seek to continuously evaluate and improve the new Short Breaks service, so that it delivers the best possible outcomes for children, young people and families. Areas we already plan to explore include reach and performance, access to and eligibility for Short Breaks, identifying and responding to complex needs, and supporting effective transitions to adulthood and adult services.

In summary, the elements of the new service are as follows:

  • Overnight respite provision to support needs for these services identified in care plans
  • Play and leisure activities for children and young people aged 5 to 18 across Surrey – this will include specific services for children and young people with autism, with complex health needs or with visual impairment, as well as new, dedicated services for those with more complex needs who require 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 support to access services.
  • Proposed targeted pilots of new Family Breaks for children and young people with complex needs, and their families, in the holidays and at weekends.

Surrey Children's Disability Register (SCDR)

The SCDR is a voluntary register for children and young people with a disability or impairment, aged 0-18 years and living in Surrey. The register helps us plan and monitor services and also operates as a contact list to provide regular information and consultation about short break opportunities, funded by Surrey County Council, through the Surrey Short Breaks for Disabled Children Team.

Max Card

This is a free discount card administered by local authorities which gives foster families and families of children with additional needs access to various activities around the country at a discounted rate. The scheme is designed to help families save money on great days out, including zoos, bowling alleys, theme parks and many more. Families of children with additional needs can obtain a Max Card by registering on the Surrey Children's Disability Register (SCDR online registration form). Once registered, families will receive the Max Card in the post.

More details on the Max Card scheme, including full details of where the Max Card can be used can be found on the Max Card website.

Parent Carer break grant

These payments can be made to support parent carers who have a disabled child under 18 living in Surrey who are not currently receiving services from Surrey County Council children's services or have a social worker.

Parents cannot apply directly themselves, but anyone working with a family can apply on your behalf - such as the local carers support workers, Action for Carers Surrey team, or any professional working with you and your child for example teachers and Home School Link workers, nurses and health visitors, Children's Centre managers, Early Years Support co-ordinators.

A completed Early Help Assessment or Carers Support assessment is required in order to access this grant.

Parent Carer break grants can be used as flexibly as possible to allow parent/carers to identify what best may support them. Examples of previous grants have been used by families to fund or contribute to family holidays, short breaks for parents, training courses for parents, including driving lessons, contributions towards play activities, days out, and in some cases, equipment to help you as a parent carer.

The payment is up to the value of £300 per annum.

For more information, contact the Surrey short breaks team:

Family Voice Surrey - A parents' forum

Family Voice Surrey is a forum for parents of children with disabilities and SEN to come together to get their voice heard and influence the development of services for their children. The committee meet regularly to discuss issues of concern and to feed this into ongoing discussions with those who provide services in Surrey to children with disabilities such as Surrey County Council, NHS Surrey and voluntary organisations. For more information:

The committee is always interested in hearing from parents that would like to get involved. Please call to find out future committee meeting dates.

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