Skip to main content

Short BreaksView all services

Short breaks for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities can be both individual and group based, offering social, leisure and community activities, where children and young people can meet and mix with others and do things they may not have considered trying before, in a safe and supported environment.

Short breaks can be a fun and exciting way for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to make friends outside of their family as well as develop their independence and other vital social skills. Short breaks also provide parents and carers with a much-needed rest from their caring responsibilities.

two lambananas with back packs and paints

Short breaks can be provided during the day, in the evening, at weekends, through school holidays and overnight and can take place in the community, leisure or approved settings. They can also be provided in the home of the child or young person or that of an approved carer.

Short breaks can be anything from a few hours to consecutive overnight care and can include a wide range of activities and pursuits, such as sports clubs, friendship groups, drama classes, independence skills and team work sessions, film nights and so on.

This section will provide you with a list of short break providers and their contact details. Some may require further assessment to determine whether they can meet your child’s needs and if you are eligible. Others you may be able to access on drop-in basis.


How do I access a short break?

You can request a short break for your child in several ways.

You can self-refer by ringing Care line on 0151 233 3700.

Alternatively, you can ring and request a referral for Short breaks on 0151 233 3620 or contact your local Children’s centre or Early Help hub, who will be able to support and direct you. Details of your local Children’s centre and Early help Hub can be found on the Family services directory.

Your child will need to be assessed for a short break as this helps us understand your child and your family’s needs and how best we can support you.


Why do Local Authorities have to provide short breaks?

Local authorities are required by law to provide short breaks for families with disabled children. The Children and Families Act 2014 re-emphasises the Government’s commitment to improving support for vulnerable children and their families as part of wider reforms that ensure all children with SEND are supported to achieve good outcomes and fulfil their potential.

Short Breaks are part of the local authority’s ‘Local Offer’ for children with special educational needs and disabilities. All local authorities are required to keep their Local Offer under review and publish an annual Short Breaks statement detailing the short breaks available within their area.

How are short breaks provided in Liverpool?

In Liverpool short breaks are provided in a variety of ways.

Most children and young people with special education needs and disabilities will be able to access a short break using services available to all. These are called “Universal Services”. Examples include, guides, brownies, cubs, scouts, sports clubs, other specific interest groups such as drama, art, music or dance, or extra-curricular activities provided by your child’s school.

Some children and young people with special education needs and disabilities may need some extra help to access a short break, to ensure their needs are met. This is called “Targeted Support”. This type of support will be provided for as long as your child needs and may only be needed for a short time if your child is able to manage more independently after a settling in period.

Examples of targeted support include groups and sessions run by Liverpool’s Fusion short breaks team, the Splice project, Kids place or individualised payments made to the young person to help them access an alternative short break.

A small number of children with very complex needs may need more personalised support to meet their specific needs so would require a statutory assessment from a social work team.

What is the difference between a short break and respite?

The term short break and respite are used interchangeably and can mean the same thing. Respite is often used to refer to overnight breaks and care. Whilst short breaks is used to refer to day/evening and weekend support.

What help can I get for myself?

A list of services, including advocacy, support groups and information and advice hubs, can be found on Liverpool’s Family Services Directory.

What help can I get for my other children?

A list of support groups, clubs, sibling support, and other services can be found on Liverpool’s Family Services Directory.

Can I request a Direct Payment as a short break?

Yes, you can request a direct payment as an alternative way to receive a short break although your child will need to be assessed to determine if they are eligible for this.

Information about direct payments is contained within our updated direct payments guidance – provide link.