South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

4.1.2 Short Breaks Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The chapter outlines the requirements of providing and managing short breaks.

References

RELATED GUIDANCE

Friendship For All (The Children’s Society)

AMENDMENT

A link to Friendship for All (The Children's Society) was added in May 2017.


Contents

  1. Statutory Framework
  2. Introduction
  3. Providing Short Breaks
  4. Care Planning


1. Statutory Framework

  • Short Breaks - Statutory Guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks; (SBSG);
  • The Children Act 1989 and 2004; (CA1989);
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006; (SGVGA 2006);
  • Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (CPPACR(E) Reg 2012).


2. Introduction

This document provides a brief overview of the statutory guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of children using short breaks. This document also sets out how Services for Children and Young People will comply with this new legislation which is part of a suite of documents that came into effect on the 1 April 2011. The full versions can be read via the hyperlinks above.

Short break are part of a continuum of services which support children in need and their families. It focuses on disabled children having the same opportunities as other children for fun, enjoyment and activities whilst at the same time giving their parents a break from caring.

For short break periods it is normally the parents, not the local authority who hold Parental Responsibility. Therefore arrangements can only be made for a child to be accommodated for short breaks with the parents' consent.

Short Breaks can be provided in the following ways:

  • Care during the day and or evening in the child's own home;
  • Mainstream leisure or educational activities;
  • Overnight with a short break foster carer;
  • Overnight care in the child's own home;
  • Overnight care in a residential setting.


3. Providing Short Breaks

Overnight short breaks can be provided under either section 17(6) or section 20(4) of the Children's Act 1989:

  • Section 17(6) of the 1989 Act: states that local authorities have power to provide accommodation as part of a range of services in order to discharge their general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need;
  • Section 20(4) of the 1989 Act: grants local authorities a power to provide accommodation 'for any child within their area (even though a person who has parental responsibility for him is able to provide him with accommodation) if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child's welfare'.

Regardless of how many days a short break lasts the decision whether to provide a short break under section 17(6) or 20(4) is to be informed by an assessment of the child's needs.

When making the decision to provide services under either section 17(6) or 20(4) Children's Act 1989 emphasis must be placed on the importance of assessment, planning and review to ensure safeguarding and to promote the welfare of the child;

When the child is accommodated under section 17(6) Children's Act 1989 they are not classed as a Child in Care.

When a child is accommodated under section 20(4) Children's Act 1989 they will be classed as looked after for the duration of the short break.

However, there is no definitive rule for providing short break under either section - statutory guidance sets out the following issues which are to be considered:

  • The particular vulnerabilities of the child, including communication method;
  • The parenting capacity of the parents within their family and environmental context;
  • Wider family and environmental factors;
  • The length of time away from home and the frequency of such stays - the less time the child spends away from home the more likely it is to be appropriate to provide accommodation under section 17(6);
  • Whether short breaks are to be provided in more than one place;
  • Potential impact on the child's place in the family and on primary attachments;
  • Observation of the child;
  • Views of the child and views of parents;
  • Extent of contact between short break carers and family and between the child and family during the placement;
  • Distance from family home;

The decision will be made by the child's Social Worker in consultation with his or her Team Manager. This decision must be ratified by the Joint funding panel. (See Children Integrated Disability Service Resource Panel (CHIDS) Procedure)

Once a child is accommodated under section 20 (4) and section 48 does not apply the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) must be included in the decision making process.


4. Care Planning

Accommodation under different legal settings

Table 1 sets out how short break accommodation can be provided under the different legal provisions and sets out when a child must be visited.

When the child is to be accommodated under section 20(4) and the conditions listed below in box (b) apply, then regulation 48 applies. Regulation 48 allows for a reduced level of visits and a shorter care plan called a Short Break Care Plan.

If the level of care exceeds that listed for Regulation 48 to apply than a Care Plan must be completed and section (c) of Table 1 applies.

Section 17(6) Children Act 1989 Section 20(4) Children Act 1989 Reg 48 Section 20(4) Children Act
 

Short Breaks that are:

  • For more than 24 hours;
  • Pre-planned and in the same place;
  • No single short break lasts more than 17 days;
  • The total does not exceed 75 days in one year.
Regulation 48 applies

Short Breaks that are:

  • For more than 24 hours;
  • Be with a range of providers;
  • Exceed timescales in column (b).
Regulation 48 does not apply

The child is not looked after.

A child in need plan is required

Reviews to be carried out at least every six months, and more often if required. However, this must be apparent on the child's file.

The child is looked after for the period that he or she is provided with accommodation.

The 2010 Regulations apply:-

  • The authority must make a short break care plan addressing issues key to the safe care of the child;
  • An IRO must be appointed.

The first visit must take place within three months of the first placement day or as soon as practicable thereafter. Subsequent visits must be at intervals of no more than six months.

The child's case must be reviewed within three months of the start of the first placement and then at intervals of no more than six months.

The child is looked after for the period that (s)he is provided with accommodation.

The 2010 Regulations apply

without modifications in respect of planning arrangements:

  • The authority must make a care plan;
  • An IRO must be appointed; and the child's case must be reviewed regularly.

Visits must take place in accordance with Regulation 28.

The first review must be within twenty days of the start of the first placement, the second no more than three months after the first and subsequent reviews no more than six months after the previous review.
The provision of accommodation under section 17(6) or section 20(4) does not affect parental responsibility.

Statutory guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks

Section 17(6)

A child in need plan is to be completed and is to be reviewed at least every six months by a team manager to ensure that the plan is meeting all the needs of the child.

Section 20(4) - Regulation 48 applies

The Short Break Care Plan must, insofar as appropriate to the placement address the following:

  • The type and address of the accommodation and the name of the person responsible;
  • How long the arrangement is expected to last and steps to take to end or change the arrangements;
  • Relevant aspects of the child's history and information about their religious and cultural background and whether such matters affect their daily routine;
  • Any delegation for parental responsibility to the responsible authority or to those who have care of the child, i.e. in case of medical emergencies;
  • Financial arrangements for the placement;
  • Confirmation of Foster Care Agreement if applicable.

A Short Break Care Plan will need to be completed which must include:

  • Childs health, emotional and behaviour problems - including full details of the child's disability;
  • The child's specific communications needs;
  • Emergency contact numbers;
  • The child's likes and dislikes - particularly leisure activities;
  • How the carer promotes the child's educational achievements.

The parents, and the child if practicable, must be involved in all aspects of agreeing the Short Break Care Plan.

The IRO will chair the review of the Short Break Care Plan.

Section 20(4) - Regulation 48 does not apply

Where Section 20 (4) Regulation 48 does not apply a Care Plan will need to be completed.

Private Fostering/Direct Payments

Short Breaks do not fall within the Private Fostering legislation which relates to children who are under the age of 16 (or 18 if they have a disability), who is living and being cared for by someone else for more than 28 days who is not a parent, close relative, or a person with legal responsibility for the child.

Overnight arrangements made using Direct Payments do not fall within the legislation as the parent/Carer employs the carers and remains in parental control during the overnight stay. The child is not looked after during their stay with the carer.

Reviews

All reviews are to take place in accordance with the schedule listed in Table 1.

End