As we move into another phase of restrictions CDC welcome's the Government's commitment that respite and short break support for disabled children, young people and their families can and should continue.
CDC also welcomes Minister Ford's open letter to children and young people with SEND and their families and carers, where she offers advice and guidance on several issues that will impact children and young people during this latest phase of restrictions. You can read more about this further down the page.
The Education and childcare settings: New National Restrictions from 5 November 2020 guidance states that:
"Parents or carers of disabled children may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled child. Where activities are being provided solely for this purpose, they are able to continue."
What does it mean for families?
For families the guidance sets out that:
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
- Out of school activities and wraparound care can continue for registered childcare and to provide respite care, including for vulnerable children.
- Parents or carers of disabled children may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled child.
- Early years settings and childminders remain open, and parents of under-5s can continue to use these settings as normal
- Parents will be able to access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers
- Youth support services, including 1-1 youth work and support groups, may also continue to operate.
- Early years, schools and other education settings continue to operate as before.
- Home tutoring and elective home education can continue to operate.
In regards to transport journeys can be made:
- for education or childcare
- for work purposes
- to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place
- for visiting venues that are open
- for a medical reason, such as taking someone to hospital
If it is necessary to travel to and from settings, children and their parents and carers are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school and walking is not practical, then a private vehicle for single household use is preferable. Use of public transport should be minimised.
Children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport. This does not apply to those who are exempt.
What does it mean for local authorities and short break providers?
"Children’s services and social care provision will continue as they have been to protect and support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people for the duration of the national restrictions.
Local authorities are reminded of the guidance for children’s social care that was issued at the start of the first national restriction."
You can also download our briefing for local authorities Short Breaks for Disabled Children: A Legal Guide which sets out the relevant legal duties which remain relevant in current restrictions.
Other relevant guidance states that:
- Out of school activities and wraparound care can continue for registered childcare and to provide respite care, including for vulnerable children
- These settings should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in the protective measures for holiday clubs and after-school clubs and other out-of-school clubs for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance
We have also developed a series of learning examples on short break provision during lockdown periods, which provide some useful advice and creative practice. You can read those here: https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/short-break-learning-examples
A key message from all providers that we heard from in relation to the learning exmaples was that risk assessments should be used as an enabler to providing support rather than a barrier.
“Risk assessment which supports effective risk management and creative thinking led to different approaches to face-to-face support rather than support being withdrawn especially for children, young people and families who were particularly vulnerable or at high risk of going into crisis during the pandemic.”
Minister Ford publishes letter to children, families and their carers
Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, has published an open letter To all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them
Following the introduction of the new national restrictions on 5th November, the letter provides advice and guidance on several issues, including school attendance, children who are clinically extremely vulnerable, remote education, face coverings in education settings, respite, health services for children and young people with SEND, and the new winter package to provide support for children and young people and their families.
In regards to respite and short care provision, Minster Ford says:
Parents and carers may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled children while the new national restrictions are in force, with specific provision in the new regulations allowing for both services which care for children away from home and care which is delivered in the family home.
You can read the letter below.
CDC will continue to update this page as new guidance or information is published during this period of restrictions.