Proposed decision – The Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services is asked to agree to:
a) Authorise Commissioners to commence a competitive strategic grants process for the provision of Short Break Day Opportunities for Disabled Children and Young People, and delegate authority to award grants to the Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education or other Officer as required by the Corporate Director.
Reason for the decision
In accordance the Children Act 1989, section 6, and subsequently The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011, Kent County Council has a duty to ensure sufficiency of short break activities available to families of disabled children & young people living in Kent.
The existing grant funding arrangement for Short Breaks for Disabled Children and Young People ends on the 31 March 2022 and it is proposed that a two year Strategic Grants Framework is competitively tendered, to be in place from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2024 to ensure sufficiency of short break activities, and co-production of an alternate delivery model for future provision. The proposed Decision falls within the Key Decision Criteria of affecting two or more electoral divisions and expenditure over £1million for the lifetime of the project.
Short Breaks are preventative, family support services that are aimed at families with a disabled child, to allow them to have a break from caring. They can be at any time ranging from an hour to a day, evening, overnight, or weekend depending on the needs of the family and provide enjoyable activities for the child or young person. The short break may take place in a community activity setting, a child/young person’s home or other residential setting. It allows parents and carers to have a break from their caring responsibilities and gives children and young people the opportunity for a positive experience.
Some disabled children can join in on activities for all children such as Beavers or Brownies, or summer fun days run by their local council. This means that their parents can have a break.
Kent County Council commission activities for those children who need extra support, including activities for children who need significant levels of support. Most of these activities are open to families without having to go through a social worker.
— weekend clubs during term time
— school summer holiday clubs
The aim of this process has been to ensure that Short Breaks are available for disabled children and families when they need them, providing breaks and support early, preventing and managing crises to helping to keep families together.
Using Short Breaks, we are supporting carers to have a break from the caring responsibilities of their disabled child. Short breaks benefit both disabled children and their parents. Children benefit from new interests, relationships and activities, while parents can catch up with ‘everyday activities’ (sleep, cleaning, shopping), attend to their physical and psychological wellbeing, and maintain and develop social networks.
1. Do Nothing – The current grants for Short Breaks for Disabled Children and Young People will end on the 31 March 2022. Kent County Council will fail in its duty to ensure sufficiency of short breaks activities are available to families of disabled children and young people.
2. Use Direct Payment approach – Market analysis and engagement indicates a lack of capacity at present to respond to this option, meaning that some Parents and Carers will be challenged in sourcing a provider and increase the risk of putting families into crisis. Engagement with Parents and Carers on the use of Direct Payments identified that the process can be complex and difficult to navigate.
3. Competitively Tender for New Grants Framework (Preferred Option) – This option will ensure continued investment into Short Breaks offer for families and carers. The funding model will promote equitable share, of the available budget across Kent, supporting the Voluntary and Community Sector providers through the COVID Pandemic recovery. The grants prospectus will set out desired outcomes and intentions for a county wide offer to meet a range of needs, including how organisations should be promoting them.
Following the grant award, the new services will be updated on the Local Offer, shared with Local Children’s Partnership Groups, social workers and the front door for the marketing, promoting, advertising. During the two-year grant period Strategic Commissioning will work with Families, Carers, Service Users and Providers to co-produce a sustainable short breaks model to be fully operational from 1 April 2024.
The proposed Decision is in line with Kent’s Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 2021-2024
o Priority Five: Ensure children and young people with SEND are included in their local community
Setting the Course Kent County Council’s Interim Strategic Plan December 2020
o Define our Commissioning Strategy to inform the way we work with the VCSE to meet the needs of our communities and to identify potential new partnership models
o Better engagement with residents and local communities
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 29/10/2021
Decision due: Not before 29th Nov 2021 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Engagement with parents/carers and disabled children and young people will be undertaken to inform the development of the grants prospectus. During the proposed grant period the coproduction of the Short Breaks Strategy will include consultation activity.
Financial implications: The available funding for Short Breaks Grants Framework is expected to remain unchanged at a value of £1,082,995 per annum and will be fully funded from the Children’s Disability 0-18 Commissioning Revenue Base Budget. The retender of the programme is not expected to deliver any direct savings in relation to the value of the grants awarded, although the bids received will be tested for value for money prior to award. The commissioning of the short breaks for disabled children is part of the wider strategy to avoid escalation of need and requirement for other statutory children services.
Legal implications: The Children’s and Families Act places a statutory duty on the local authority to ensure sufficiency of provision for Short Breaks for Disabled Children and Young People. In addition, the Health services and Public Health Act 1968 provides a legal framework for the local authority to give grants to the VCS where it is providing services which the Local Authority has a statutory duty to provide.
Equalities implications: An equality impact assessment has been undertaken and no issues have been identified at this stage. The equality impact assessment shall be kept under constant review as this project continues.