Apply for short breaks

Please read our update on how coronavirus is affecting short break services before making your application.

You can apply directly to the Short Breaks Team for Specialist Short Breaks without a social work assessment for children who are aged Five to Seventeen, have an agreed RAS score of less than 170 and where there are no safeguarding concerns or where the family do not require social work assessment/ongoing support.

We do not offer Specialist Short Breaks for children under five as the expectation is that they should be accessing Early Years Funding and can also access support via the Early childhood and family service (ECFS).

If you consider your child aged under five has exceptional needs, please ask a professional known to you to refer for a social work assessment to the Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS).

If your child is over Five, has very significant needs and is likely to require ongoing long- term social work support please ask a professional known to you to refer for a social work assessment to the Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS). This does not automatically give you an enhanced budget but may offer you the additional support your child/family requires.

We will use the information from the application form and the supporting evidence you provide to agree an Individual Budget for your child using the Resource Allocation System (RAS).

The RAS is an evidence- based tool. Most families send the most recent Education, Health and Care Plan or Educational Review/School Report and any recent health reports or letters as evidence. We do not ask for supporting letters from professionals, the evidence we require will be information you already have available to you.

The Short Breaks Team offers Individual Budgets between £500 to £4000 (Primary School children) and between £500 to £4500 (Secondary School children)

How to return the application form to us?

You can choose how you return the form to the Short Breaks Team.

By post (please ensure you send the form and all supporting evidence with the correct postage) to:

Children’s Services
Short Breaks Team
County Hall
Martineau Lane

or by email to

What happens once we receive your application?

On receipt of your application a Manager will review the information provided in the application form and supporting professional evidence and use this together with the Resource Allocation System to ensure the child is eligible for specialist short breaks.

Once we have agreed eligibility and the budget a member of the team will contact you to discuss short breaks that may be suitable for your child.

NB If the child is not eligible based on the information we receive, we will contact you to discuss further or to signpost you to other services.

How long will it be before my child or young person can access short breaks

From the date the Short Break Coordinator contacts you to discuss the budget and short break services it will be a minimum of 6 weeks before services can be set up/accessed. Sometimes the process is even longer because it is important that the right services are set up in the beginning and you may wish to visit several providers and/or talk to people in your family/network to identify the most appropriate services.

If you choose a Direct Payment for activities using a pre-paid debit card, we will need to ask you for ID etc as we will need to set up a Bank Account for you to use exclusively for short breaks.   We use an external Bank (PFS) and the card will be sent to you as soon as it arrives. You will not however be able to use the funds in the account until the start date of the short break plan even if the card arrives early.

If you choose a Direct Payment to have a Personal Assistant (PA), our Direct Payment Support Services Team will ensure that your proposed PA has the necessary paperwork in place such as an employment contract, insurance, enhanced DBS check (this must be under 3 years old) etc before they can start working for you. No employees can begin work until all employment requirements have been met or before the start date of the short breaks plan.

If you choose a Short Break Commissioned Provider from our Framework, we will need you to complete an All About Me which will give the provider detailed information about your child/young person. As soon as we receive this from you, we will send this to your preferred provider and ask them if they have a space and can meet your child’s needs. We expect a reply from them within 5 working days.

If the provider has a space, they will then invite you and your child/young person into their setting at least once, usually when other young people are there. Following this, they will contact the Short Breaks Team and tell us the costs of your child’s place.

The above process takes approximately 40 working days. Your Short Breaks Coordinator will contact you to agree a short breaks plan as soon as we have the costs from your chosen provider.

You may then wish to consider other services or a combination of services and once this is confirmed we will send you the short breaks plan to sign and return. Once you have returned it we will send a copy to the provider and you can start to book sessions.

NB if you wish to have a Direct Payment as well as a commissioned provider, we cannot refer for Direct Payments (activities or a PA) until we have the signed plan back from you so this will take longer to set up initially.

If you are unhappy about any aspects of specialist short breaks

Contact the Short Breaks Team by email to and we will work with you to resolve your concerns.

If the issue is still not resolved, follow our Children's services complaints procedure.

Was this webpage helpful?