Support for children aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Respite Care

Respite care is a form of short-term substitute care for children with significant disabilities or a serious health condition, which is provided by someone other than parents or the usual carers of the child.

It may form part of a support package based on the particular needs of individual children and their families. It may take the form of day care or overnight care at regular intervals, in the home, with another family or at a residential unit, or via access to a community facility such as a play scheme.

It should be both a positive experience for the child to have opportunities away from their family, while giving the family a break from constant caring.

Types of respite care

Day care is provided via:

  • specialist childminders with knowledge of additional needs
  • community play schemes, with additional support if appropriate
  • shared care – family based care which may involve day care initially which gradually builds up to overnights stays

Overnight care is usually provided by linking a child with shared carers after a careful matching process. Shared care foster carers are recruited and approved by the Fostering Team.

Overnight care for children with complex needs (where shared care would not be appropriate) is provided via:

These facilities have their own criteria for admission and generally cater for children with complex needs where shared care provision would not be appropriate.

Children receiving regular overnight care are considered to be 'children who are looked after' during these periods of care and will have their care plans formally reviewed by Independent Reviewing Officers every six months.

Parents may identify their own carers to provide support to meet their child’s needs more flexibly and could be funded to do so via Direct Payments.

Access to services

The provision of respite care is dependant on the child meeting the criteria for a service and an assessment under the Children in Need Assessment Framework being carried out.

Dependant on both the assessed need and the child and parent’s own wishes, various short break opportunities may be offered ranging from a few hours care to regular overnight provision.