Can I get a short break?

To be eligible, the child or young person must have a physical or mental impairment that is substantial and permanent, where:

  • Substantial means considerable or significant factors that are life-changing or limiting, and likely to involve risk and dependence
  • Permanent means existing indefinitely and unlikely to improve (allowing for the episodic / intermittent nature of some conditions)

The Short Breaks team cannot accept applications for children under the age of five. The expectation is that they should be receiving their universal Early Years funding (available from age two for children in receipt of disability living allowance) and also support from the Early childhood and family service (ECFS)

If a child under five has exceptional needs they would need to be referred by a professional to CADS clearly explaining why it was felt they had exceptional needs. If appropriate they would then be referred to one of the specialist Children with Disabilities social work teams for a holistic social work assessment of the child and family’s needs. This would still not be an automatic right to access short breaks as many services do not provide for under-fives.

In Norfolk we use a Resource Allocation System (RAS) which is a strengths-based assessment tool that identifies the barriers to disabled children accessing everyday opportunities. If a child or young person over the age of five scores 70 or above on a Resource Allocation Questionnaire it is likely that they will have some eligibility to an indicative individual budget. 

Resource Allocation System (RAS)

The Resource Allocation System (RAS) questionnaire calculates a disabled child's or young person's individual budget for play and leisure activities and support to unpaid carers of disabled children. These individual budgets are not to pay for health or educational services.

The RAS questionnaire enables the local authority to ensure disabled children and their carers receive fair and equal resources.

In the sections below, you can find out more about the RAS questionnaire and what the financial banding for disabled children look like.

It is a tool that helps to determine the level of support disabled children and young people require on a day to day basis.  This will give an indicative level of funding for a disabled child to support their needs in the home and in the community.

Each disabled child in a household will have a separate RAS questionnaire if there is more than one child with disabilities in a family.

The RAS questionnaire is evidence based and works out the level of support needed on a day to day basis. When a social worker or the Short Breaks Team use it, they will refer to evidence provided through health and education reports as well as their own observations and assessment. Children who score in the higher ranges are more likely to need more specialist provision.

Two RAS questionnaires are being used, one for primary and one for secondary children.

The RAS questionnaire gives a score which determines the funding band for a disabled child or young person. This then gives a disabled child or young person their ‘individual budget’.

Scoring tables shows the indicative financial bandings that disabled children could be awarded.

If disabled children have exceptional home circumstances or are in receipt of continuing healthcare some ‘individual budgets’ may be allocated to support them before they start school. These needs will be assessed through a social work assessment or through health’s continuing care assessment. Referrals for children under five to Children’s Services must be made by a professional to the Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS).

It is important to know that the indicative ‘individual budget’ amount is not an entitlement.  Disabled children will receive budgets in line with their needs and the identified outcomes they want to achieve. Consideration will be given to how well families are supported, within their extended family networks or by their local community.  For example:

  • If a child has an identified need to meet with peers, we will not provide a 1:1 support session for a walk in the countryside, as this will not meet the child’s identified outcomes.
  • If a child has identified needs to maintain good physical health through the provision of a sporting activity, we will not be supporting the young person to go to the cinema. 

Once an ‘individual budget’ has been agreed, it can either be held by the council, a parent carer or a combination of the two.

It is important to note that the costs for a disabled child or young person are the same regardless of who purchases the service.  

If you have any questions about short breaks please either provide feedback through the feedback button on the Local Offer or email

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