PARENTS and carers of children with disabilities will be given a range of choices when it comes to selecting short break provision in the borough, councillors have agreed.
Short breaks allow children with disabilities and/or Special Educational Needs (SEN) to take part in after-school, evening, weekend or holiday clubs and give family carers valuable time off to help manage the pressures of caring.
The council held a consultation in the summer which asked for feedback on what was currently on offer and what future provision should be.
Parents and carers were specifically asked about their views on Direct Payments, where they receive money to choose their own short break provision rather than use services provided by the council or one of its partners.
The results of the consultation were reported back to the Adult, Children’s and Education Committee on Tuesday (13th December) where members heard the outcome was inconclusive.
The committee agreed that parents and carers should have the option to access short break provision independently with Direct Payments or by using a service offered by the council.
A revised set of criteria will also be published in April 2017 to help parents/carers of children with disabilities and SEN understand their entitlements to support.
The council will also ensure the needs of the children using short break provision via the authority are being met by providers through close management of contracts.
Councillor Jan Gavin, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said:
“Short breaks provide children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy new experiences, make friends and develop new skills. They also give parents and carers a chance to focus on their other children or recharge their batteries.
“The consultation carried out in the summer showed there was a mix of views and no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Therefore we will be giving parents and carers the choice of whatever option they feel is best for them and their children.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation where we gathered a lot of useful comments and suggestions to help us provide the best possible short break provision in the future.”