Surrey Short Breaks statement 2023



Every local authority must publish a Short Breaks Statement and listen and respond to parents' and carers' views.

The Short Breaks Statement provides key information about the service for parents and carers and for anyone else with an interest in Short Breaks or with a role in supporting and advising families of children and young people with disabilities, including social care, health and education professionals such as social workers, case workers and teachers.

This Short Breaks Statement has been revised to take account of changes to Short Breaks services in Surrey from 1 April 2023.

The Short Breaks Statement is not intended as a detailed guide to services available although a summary of these services is included together with details of how to find out more about Short Breaks and how to apply for them.

What are Short Breaks?

Short Breaks are a variety of activities for children and young people with Additional Needs or Disabilities (AN&D), sometimes referred to as Special Educational Needs or a Disability (SEND) and their families in Surrey. The activities run throughout the year during the day, evening and at night, at the weekends and in the school holidays. They may take place in the child's own home, or in facilities or residential settings provided by Surrey County Council or a commissioned Short Break provider.

Short breaks have two key aims:

  • to enable children and young people to participate in fun, interesting and safe activities
  • to provide a break from caring for parents/carers

You can read about the more specific outcomes that Short Breaks are intended to achieve in the Outcomes section.

About our Short Breaks Statement

During a Strategic Review of Short Breaks conducted in 2021, and in the process of planning the new Short Breaks services commencing in April 2023, we consulted with parents, carers and the young people using our Short Breaks services, with providers and other stakeholders, and with Family Voice Surrey, and this informed the design of the services available from April 2023. The range of services provided, both current and any future commissioned services, reflects the views of families that use these services. In particular, the new service includes Play and Leisure services specifically for children and young people with more complex needs who typically need 1:1 (or occasionally 2:1) support to access those services. In addition, to support improved outcomes for parents/carers and families as a whole, we are piloting new Family Breaks.

This Statement will be reviewed regularly with families as we understand the demand for Short Breaks may change. This document has been designed to provide information about:

  • The range of Short Breaks currently available in Surrey
  • Who can access Short Breaks and how
  • How Short Breaks may meet, and continue to meet, the needs and aspirations of disabled children, young people and their families in Surrey.

How we decided what activities we fund

We know Short Breaks services are vital for many families in Surrey, so we have sought to engage with and listen to them in designing the offer.

Through our Strategic Review of Short Breaks in 2021 and in the process of developing the new Short Breaks services from 1 April 2023, we examined the performance of the Short Breaks service over the previous several years and looked in detail at many aspects of the service including needs, access, outcomes and the interface with other services.

We sought feedback from children, young people and families through surveys and in-depth interviews. and this research informed the design of the new Short Breaks services which we have now commissioned through a formal tender process. Most of these services commenced on 1 April 2023 with others commencing between April and July 2023.

The contracts for these services are for three years initially, with the possibility of extension for up to four further years, in order to provide continuity and consistency for families.

About Short Breaks

Short Breaks are for children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities (AN&D), sometimes known as special educational needs or a disability (SEND), and their families and carers.

The Equality Act 2010 tells us a disability is 'a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities'. We refer to 'additional needs and disabilities' in this Statement as some parents and carers and young people prefer this term.

Short Breaks are for families with children between the age of 5 and 18 who are affected in their everyday living by one or more of the following:

  • A physical disability or impairment
  • A sensory impairment (visual, hearing or multiple)
  • Chronic physical ill health
  • A communication or language disorder
  • An Autistic Spectrum Condition
  • A learning disability

A wide range of specific conditions are covered by these broad categories and it is impossible to define an exhaustive list of disabilities. Also, the needs and circumstances of every child or young person with a disability – and of their family – are unique. Typically, children and young people for whom Short Breaks are appropriate will have a diagnosis or assessment indicating they have a disability.

Not all disabled children, young people and their families will need the same level of support. Some will need more than others because of the nature of their child's disability and their individual circumstances.

There is other support available from Children's Services and other organisations to promote emotional wellbeing and mental health among children and young people, and to support those with additional needs resulting from abuse or trauma for example, but who do not have a disability, for example the Surrey Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health service.


An important outcome from the provision of Short Breaks is that we meet the needs of families through a choice of Short Breaks services that are responsive to the needs of service users. The following key principles reflect the feedback that we have gathered during and following the Strategic Review of Short Breaks:

  • Short Breaks need to be fun and have a strong social or educational purpose to them including learning through play
  • Disabled children and young people need a diversity of provision
  • Non-judgemental support should be provided to families through the provision of timely and ongoing support to meet individual family needs
  • Opportunities should exist for all the members of the household to take part in inclusive activities with siblings
  • Short Breaks should provide an opportunity for fun time as a family together or separately
  • Short Breaks should provide opportunities for disabled children and young people to develop friendships and reduce isolation
  • Short Breaks can develop skills and understanding to manage challenging behaviours
  • Short break services should support disabled children and young people with complex needs to have opportunities to mix with peers and access community opportunities

The Strategic Review of Short Breaks also identified that a stronger focus was needed on delivering positive outcomes for parents and carers, and whole families, as well as children and young people.

We have therefore developed, in consultation with parents/carers, Family Voice Surrey, providers and other stakeholders, a new Outcomes Framework which has informed the design of the Short Breaks service and which we will use to evaluate its effectiveness and make improvements. This will be used to collect feedback on outcomes from a sample of children, young people and families accessing a range of our Short Breaks services.

The outcomes which we will seek to measure are:

For children and young people:

  • They are happy and have enjoyable experiences at Short Breaks
  • They develop skills that enable them to be more independent and develop self-confidence
  • They form friendships with other children
  • They develop supportive and trusting relationships with adults

For parents/carers and families:

  • They get a break from their caring responsibilities​
  • They have the opportunity to spend more time with other family members​
  • They have improved emotional and physical wellbeing since my child started attending Short Breaks​
  • Family relationships and cohesion improves following my child's attendance at Short Breaks​
  • They feel they can make an informed choice about Short Breaks for their child.

We will measure these outcomes in the following ways:

  • Providers of services will work with children and young people accessing their services to assess their progress against their outcomes – providers will be expected to do this once each quarter for each scheme they run.
  • We will conduct quarterly surveys of parents and carers of children and young people accessing Short Breaks, asking for their assessment of the outcomes achieved for their children, for themselves and for their wider families
  • We will engage regularly with social work teams to gain insights into the impact that Short Breaks are having on the families they support
  • We will collect other evidence from providers, for example findings from their own surveys and evaluations of their services.

How can families access Short Breaks?

In Surrey we offer a graduated response to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.

  • Universal Service: can be accessed by everyone, whether or not they have a disability
  • Targeted Service: for children and young people with SEND that allow self-referral from families and often incurs a cost to the families
  • Specialist Service: for families who need extra help after a social care assessment.

Short Breaks services are in the categories of Targeted Services and Specialist Services.

Targeted Services

Examples of Targeted Services include:

  • Play schemes and youth schemes (including weekend and holiday schemes)
  • Clubs and social activities
  • After-school clubs.

Targeted services are aimed at disabled children and young people who require additional support or who may need groups or services that are specifically designed to meet their needs. An assessment is not required to access these services - so families can self-refer.

These services provide play and leisure activities and most are open to families where a child or young person has any disability. There are some services specifically to support children and young people with:

  • Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
  • Complex Health needs
  • Visual Impairment
  • Complex needs or multiple disabilities (and who typically require 1:1 or 2:1 support to access services)

These Services may ask to see evidence of the child or young person's disability (DLA letter, paediatrician's report or similar) and may ask what other services are being accessed, to ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to access Short Breaks. These Services may be at Specialist Centres or in a mainstream provision.

Activities can be booked directly with the activity provider. Details of all Short Break activities, clubs and play schemes are provided below and are also available on the Surrey Local Offer.

Parents and carers will usually need to pay a financial contribution to the provider towards the standard subsidised cost of providing the activity. These contributions are made directly to the providers who will advise on the amount and payment arrangements, and may be able to offer help to families for whom these contributions are an obstacle to accessing the service.

Surrey's Local Offer is detailed on the Local Offer website. This provides clear and searchable information about all of the services which families can access for disabled and/or special educational needs children and young people aged 0-25, including Short Breaks. For more information visit the Surrey Local Offer.

If you have any problems accessing any of the activities listed on the Local Offer website or in the publications, the Surrey Family Information Service will be happy to help: call 0300 200 1004 or visit our support and advice website for families.

Specialist Services

Examples of Specialist Services include:

  • Respite (day care, overnights)
  • Family Short Breaks
  • Personal Support
  • Residential care.

Specialist services are for families with a child or young person who requires more support than is offered through our targeted services because of their disability and additional needs. This may be because of changes in the family's capacity to support their child or young person, or because their needs are or have become greater.

Some families will have a wider network of support that includes friends, relatives and local support groups. However, if a family does not have this support or would benefit from extra support from Surrey County Council, parents and carers can request a social care needs assessment to determine eligibility for specialist services.

To see what help might be needed a social worker from either the Children's Services Team or Children with Disabilities Team will need to talk with the parent or carer to complete a needs assessment.

The needs assessment can be requested at any time, from a social worker or by contacting Children's Services. The assessment is how we gather and record information about the child or young person's needs by talking with parents, carers and other people involved with the family. The assessment will need to go to a panel to agree the plan and level of support required.

For more information, visit the Surrey Local Offer website.

Examples of Short Break Services funded by Surrey County Council

Play schemes

Activities for children aged 5 to 11 – after school, at weekends and during the school holidays, including schemes for children with:

  • Any disability or additional need
  • An autistic spectrum condition
  • Visual impairment
  • Complex health needs
  • Complex needs or multiple disabilities requiring 1:1 or 2:1 support.

These are located in Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Tandridge, Waverley, Woking.

Youth schemes

Activities for young people aged 12 to 18 – after school, at weekends and during the school holidays, including schemes specifically for young people with ASC, visual impairment (VI), complex health needs and complex needs or multiple disabilities.

These are located in Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Tandridge, Waverley, Woking.

Other activities

Other Short Breaks activities are available to support children and young people in particular groups or with particular interests. Currently these include:

  • Cycling clubs run by Wheels for All in Epsom, Leatherhead and Woking
  • Portesbery School Funstorm After School Club
  • Challengers 10-14s Transition Programme for young people moving from 'play' to 'youth' services
  • LinkAble Preparing for Adulthood programme for 12-19 year olds

Overnight respite

Overnight breaks and day care, subject to an assessment of need

Family Breaks

Family Breaks offer one-day or weekend activity breaks for whole families of children and young people with complex needs or multiple disabilities who are open to Surrey County Council's Children with Disabilities service and who require 1:1 or 2:1 support to access services. A limited number of Family Breaks is available and access is subject to an assessment of need. Families with a social worker can approach them for further information.

Summary of service locations

Explanation of acronyms

  • AN&D: Additional needs and disabilities
  • ASC: Autistic spectrum conditions
  • VI: Visual impairment
5 to 11
12 to 18
All AN&DASCComplex
White LodgeElmbridgeYesYesYesYesYesNo Yes
YMCA East SurreyEpsom & EwellYesYesYesYesNoNoYes
Wheels for AllEpsom & EwellYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
YMCA East SurreyMole ValleyYesYesYesYesNoNoYes
Wheels for AllMole ValleyYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
YMCA East SurreyReigate & BansteadYesYesYesYesNoNoYes
White LodgeRunnymedeYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
White LodgeSpelthorneYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Portesbery SchoolSurrey HeathYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
Wheels for AllWokingYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
Sight for SurreyMultiple locationsNoNoNoNoNoYesNo
Rainbow TrustMultiple locationsYesYesNoNoYesNoNo

Paying for a short break

Targeted services

Families are expected to contribute to the costs of places on targeted services including play and youth schemes but most of the cost of these services is covered by Surrey County Council funding and the provider's fundraising income.

We are aware that financial difficulties can be an issue for many families. If cost is a barrier to you attending an activity please discuss directly with your activity provider about paying a reduced charge. If you receive a Parent Carer Break Grant you can also use this towards the cost of services and activities.

Specialist services

These services are fully funded if they arise from a needs assessment.

Parent Carer Break Grant

Parent Carer Break Grants are payments up to £300, given to support parents who have a disabled child under 18 living in Surrey. It is for families who are not currently receiving services from Surrey County Council children's services and don't have a social worker or family support worker working with them.

Parents cannot directly apply themselves. Anyone working with a family can apply on your behalf - such as Early Support Co-ordinators, Children's Centre Managers, Teachers and Home School Link Workers, Nurses and Health, Visitors or one of the Action for Carers Surrey Team. Part of the application process is that either an Early Help Assessment or a Carer's Support Assessment is required.

Parent Carer Break Grants can be used for a range of things that best support the parent in their caring role. Examples of previous grants include: a family break, a short activity break for parents, training courses for a parent, driving lessons, a contribution towards your child accessing play or activities, days out, or equipment to help you as a parent in supporting your child.

For more information about Parent Carer Break Grants please call us on 01372 832896 or email


Unfortunately, we had to make the decision that generally we cannot fund transport for Short Breaks activities, as otherwise the funding for activities would be very quickly used up by a very small number of children and young people, and we would have far fewer activities available.

Parents and carers are encouraged and expected to transport their children to and from Short Breaks activities. We do understand, however, that transport can be a real difficulty in a large county like Surrey. To try to minimise transport issues, we have commissioned a range of provision across all districts and boroughs of the county. In a few cases, providers can also transport children and young people to and from the Short Break venues.

Details are available from providers (see Short Breaks Directory). Surrey County Council provide children and young people with disabilities aged 5 or over with a free disabled person's bus pass and a companion permit. For more information and how to apply please visit Surrey Disabled Person's Bus Pass.

Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

'A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the Local Authority to deliver all or some of the provision set out in an Education, Health and Care Plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision' (SEN Code of practice 9:92).

Following an assessment, a Personal Budget is an allocation of funding which should meet the total cost of provision listed in the assessment plan for your child or young person. Personal Budgets aim to give more flexibility, choice, and control over support, enabling children, young people and families to make decisions about the help they receive so that it best suits their circumstances.

The parent or carer or the young person (if over 16 years old) can either

  • receive their personal budget as a Direct Payment enabling them to commission the services they have been assessed as needing.
  • leave it to be managed by their local authority
  • or have a combination of direct payment/council controlled.

If a Direct Payment is chosen the family or young person usually receives the money on a pre-paid card, which they can use like a normal bank debit card to purchase the services identified in the assessment.

Preparing for adulthood

Preparing for Adulthood is the term used when young people are moving from childhood to adulthood, between the age of 14 and 25 years old. This is the time when young people are preparing to leave school and take the next steps in their adult life. For young people with disabilities and additional needs more support may be needed during this time to enable them to reach their full potential.

This transition from Children's Services to Adult Services should be a positive experience and a time of opportunity for young people, and we want to support them as they become young adults.

We aim to provide a range of appropriate Short Break activities for teenagers, and we are continually working with activity providers to develop new and exciting initiatives for this age group. There is a whole section on Preparing For Adulthood which includes transition from Children's Services to Adult Services on the Preparing for adulthood section of the Surrey Local Offer website.

To contact Adult Services, please call on 01276 800270 or email

Contact us

Get in touch

At any time, you can tell us what you think. We would like to hear your views on the Short Break services in Surrey. If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything within this Statement, please contact the Corporate Parenting Commissioning Team at

Complaints and compliments

We aim to provide high quality services, but occasionally things can go wrong. Please tell us if they have so that we can put things right. Complaints, comments and compliments.

The Local Offer

The Local Offer gives children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), and their families, information about what support services the local authority think will be available in their local area. Every local authority is responsible for producing a Local Offer and making sure it is available for everyone to see. The Local Offer is a free resource for residents.

It gives children and young people with SEND, and their families, information on local support services. Some of the services listed come from Surrey County Council, or the NHS, but others come from external organisations. Being listed in the Local Offer does not necessarily mean the service is endorsed or recommended by the Council. Please check yourself to make sure it is suitable for your needs.

Surrey Local Offer website

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.