See also Short Breaks Statement (Rotherham.gov website).
Children may be provided with short breaks under the following legislation:
In situations 1 and 2, the requirements which usually apply to looked after children in respect of health assessments and reports, and notification of placements, do not apply.
The legal basis on which services are provided should be clear. The decision to provide a short break under Section 17 or under Section 20 should be informed by the assessment of the child's needs and should take account of parenting capacity and wider family and environmental factors, the wishes and feelings of the child and his/her parents and the nature of the service to be provided.
The key question to ask in deciding whether to provide the short break provision under Section 17 or Section 20 is how to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child most effectively.
Before making, and when reviewing, a decision about whether to provide accommodation under Section 17 or Section 20, there should be a careful assessment of the child and family's needs that addresses:
It is more likely that the arrangements come within Section 20 where families have limited resources and may have difficulties providing support to their child while s/he is away from home or monitoring the quality of care.
In many situations, the child’s Assessment may be a brief assessment where the trigger for assessment is a request for a short break and this is for relatively low levels of short break provision so that it would fall within the Child in Need criteria. (See Section 2, Determining the Nature and Status of the Short Break - Assessment of Needs).
Nevertheless, sufficient information will be required to ensure key information about the child is identified; the reason for the short break; contact and communication details of the person with Parental Responsibility and their ability to monitor the placement whilst the child is there; the child’s health and medical details and provision of urgent medical attention (if required); the child’s routines, likes, dislikes and current arrangements for the child, (e.g. School) together with behavioural issues and how these are usually dealt with by the family. There should be opportunities for the short break carer and parent and child to meet and discuss the child’s personality, routines, etc.
This information and the arrangements should be reflected in a Child in Need Plan (see Section 4, Plans) together with the child’s understanding and views of them going into a Short Break situation and the caring arrangements to be provided by the Short Term Break carer.
Where the child is to be Accommodated under Section 20, the relevant Accommodation papers and ‘Consent ‘ details should be completed. A Care and Placement Plan should reflect the arrangements required. (See Section 4.2, Looked After Child Short Break Care Plan).
Where the child’s circumstances are more complex because of their social and /or health needs and they are receiving substantial levels of short break support (possibly in different placements), they will be Accommodated under Section 20; a more comprehensive Assessment will be required and should include a multi-agency approach.
Care and Placement Plans should be fully completed and recorded and include Consent, Health, Education and Contact Plans.Where children become Looked After the Independent Reviewing Unit should be advised and appropriate arrangements made for a review, depending upon whether Regulation 48 applies, (see Section 5, Reviews).
Parent Carers have a right to have an assessments of their own under the Children and Families Act 2014; section 97 of the Children & Families Act 2014 requires local authorities to undertake a ‘parent carers needs assessment’:
Where requested, then the local authority must assess whether that parent has needs for support and, if so, what those needs are. The assessment must include an assessment of whether it is appropriate for the parent to provide, or continue to provide, care for the disabled child, in the light of the parent’s needs for support, other needs and wishes.
The assessment must also have regard to:
Following assessment, the local authority must then decide;
Services to be provided for parent carers of disabled children should be included in the Child in Need Plan and can be included in the Education, Health and Care Plan, if the child has one.
This is applicable where short breaks are provided under Section 17 Children Act 1989.
The Child in Need Plan should be in writing and set out clearly all the services that are to be provided to meet the child's needs. Many families with disabled children receive a range of services to meet their child's needs. Wherever possible there should be a single plan which includes the full range of family support services on a multi-agency basis. The plan will show how the short break will meet the needs of the child and family identified in the assessment. It will:
The plan should include all the information necessary to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of the child in the short break. Much information may already be available from a variety of sources including the parent-held child record. The plan should be made available as necessary in accessible formats.
This is applicable where short breaks are provided under Section 20 Children Act 1989.
Where, following assessment, it is agreed with the family that the child should be Looked After under Section 20 of the 1989 Act, there will be additional requirements about planning and review. In this situation the information compiled for the Child in Need Plan (as set out in 4.1 above) will form the basis for the Short Break Care Plan required when a child is looked after under Section 20 and Regulation 48 applies (Situation 2).
In Situation 3, the Short Break Care Plan should be linked to the care plan, which should include all the key information about the child. These should not be separate plans which duplicate information.
The Short Break Care Plan must set out the arrangements to meet the child's needs with particular regard to:
As far as practicable, the child should be involved in agreeing the Plan.
The parents must be fully involved in all aspects of agreeing the Short Break Care Plan.
The plan should be signed by the parents, the local authority, those providing the care/ the provider agency and, where appropriate, the child.
There is no requirement for a separate Placement Plan for short breaks.
(Where required and appropriate please note ‘Ceasing to look after a child’, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review).
No significant change to a Child in Need Plan or a Short Break Care Plan should be made unless it has first been considered at a review.
In each case, whether children are provided with accommodation under Section 17 or under Section 20, the review should consider whether this continues to be the most appropriate legislative basis for the service provided.
A record should be kept, recording the views of those involved in the review, decisions taken and the identity of the persons responsible for implementing them.
A case review for a child who is not looked after should:
A review will usually include a face to face meeting but in some cases, regular review meetings may not be necessary. Generally it should be possible to include a review of short breaks with a review of other aspects of a child's health, education or development, where some of the same people will already be together.
Reviews should take the form of a meeting when requested by the family. In all circumstances a face to face meeting should take place at least once a year.
Depending on the level of service for the child and family and the vulnerability of the child, local authorities may wish to consider including an element in the review which is independent of the service provider and those with Parental Responsibility, for example arranging for an 'independent' chair with a role similar to the role of the IRO in the case of a looked after child.
Having an advocate may be particularly useful for disabled young people moving towards adulthood.
Reviews are less frequent than for looked after children in Situation 3:
The 2010 Regulations in relation to Looked After Reviews apply in full, and reviews will take place as follows:
For further details, see the Looked After Reviews Procedure.
Visits should usually be undertaken by a qualified social worker and always by a person with the skills and experience to communicate effectively with the child and fulfil the functions of the visit.
No statutory requirement for visits
Visits should take place at regular intervals to be agreed with the Independent Reviewing Officer and parents/person(s) with Parental Responsibility and recorded in the Short Break Care Plan before the start of the first placement.
In any event:
Visits must take place:
Following the assessment of the child and family, short breaks can be arranged in a number of settings which are subject to different registration and inspection requirements.
|Outline Requirements on Settings Where Short Breaks Might Take Place|
|Hospices||Regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) under the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Requirements 2009||Hospices are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)|
|Local authority foster care||Fostering services are registered with and inspected by Ofsted.||Revised National Minimum Standards which came into force in April 2011|
|Children's homes||Children's homes are registered with and inspected by Ofsted.||Quality Standards (March 2015)|
|Residential special schools||Different regimes apply depending on whether the residential special school is maintained, non-maintained or independent.||Residential special schools National Minimum Standards (April 2015)|
The key to providing safe care to children in their own homes is the same as to the provision of safe care elsewhere. It is essential that safe recruitment practices are followed and staff are properly trained and supervised and that the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service are complied with where they apply to Regulated Activity. (See DBS barring referral guidance (GOV.UK)).
Where the local authority provides a sitter or overnight carer in the child's own home, the child is not being provided with accommodation by the local authority and the authority is therefore providing the short break service under Section 17 Children Act 1989.
However, caring for or supervising children unsupervised, or providing personal care to them, will come within the definition of regulated activity under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and the requirements of the disclosure and barring service in relation to regulated activities will apply.
Best practice is that the child should be cared for by an approved local authority foster carer. Childminders with whom the local authority places or wishes to place children overnight (or childminders wishing to take on such work) should be asked to apply for approval as local authority foster carers. It is not appropriate for the local authority to provide overnight accommodation with childminders who are not also approved foster carers.
It is essential that individuals providing care in their own homes are subject to full employment and personal checks, as well as safe recruitment methods, and that they are provided with induction and training.
There are no requirements for agencies to register with Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission if they provide services to support disabled children in the community or in their own homes, unless they provide personal care. If Personal Care is provided, services must register with the Care Quality Commission and comply with the relevant standards.
Regulated Activity under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes the provision of Personal Care:
However any form of unsupervised care or supervision provided for children on a frequent, intensive, or overnight basis, including transporting (where the vehicle being used is only for transporting children and carers or supervisors), support given to children with accessing computer/gaming or other electronic devices, comes within the definition of 'Regulated Activity' under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in relation to regulated activities will apply.
However, Regulated Activity does not cover a family arrangement or a personal arrangement where there is no commercial consideration.