Below you will find news articles from the County Councilor about the short breaks programme.
Hampshire’s partnership with parents and carers to shape services for children with disabilities and their families being heralded as an example of best practice.
At his decision day on Thursday, 6 December, Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services approved the publication of the revised service statement for Short Breaks for children with disabilities. The service statement sets out what support is available to families of children with disabilities and tells them how they can access it. It also lets people know how they can influence services by becoming part of the Hampshire Parent/Carer Network (HPCN).
Parents, via HPCN, and Parent Voice were involved in the drawing up of the document with County Council officers and this close partnership with families has now been officially recognised. Impact, the partner appointed by the Department for Education to work with Local Authorities to develop and sustain short break services is highlighting the service statement as an example of best practice to other local authorities, including those in Wales, with which it works. Officers and parents were also asked to speak about their work developing the statement and services for children with disabilities at the recent Short Breaks Network national conference.
Through Short Breaks services, Hampshire County Council, provides a range of support for parents of children with disabilities or additional needs including access to specialist or mainstream playschemes or activities as well as other professional support, therapeutic support and respite. The scheme’s Gateway card makes booking activities simple as information is held centrally enabling parents to access activities without having to complete funding forms for each activity. The card also helps the activity provider apply for funding to cover any additional costs for support which may be required for a child to attend the activity.
Councillor Perry said: I am pleased that the revision of the service statement has been led by parents and carers. They are best placed to know what information parents need and I am very appreciative of the time and work the parents and carers from the Hampshire Parent/Carer Network and Parent Voice put into this. We are committed to reviewing and developing services so that they continue to meet families’ needs and we are always willing to listen to parents and carers to see how we can enhance our services further. I hope families will continue to work with us to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people with disabilities and additional needs in Hampshire.”
One parent who was closely involved in the review of the statement is Sharon Smith, from Basingstoke who as well as being mum to 7 year old Tanzie, is also chair of the Hampshire Parent/Carer Network. Tanzie has Down syndrome. Sharon first contacted Hampshire County Council when she was trying to get Tanzie in to a local outdoor activity group but found that groups were often unsure whether they would be able to accommodate Tanzie as they were not experienced in dealing with children with additional needs. The County Council’s Short Breaks team were able to advise Sharon and funded support for Tanzie to attend an activity group. Bridging workers from Parent Voice now offer support and training to organisations so they can accommodate children with disabilities and additional needs to access activities.
I wanted Tanzie to enjoy the same activities as her friends but was not aware that Short Breaks support would be available for that,” said Sharon. I thought it would only be available to support children with more complex needs and was about respite help.” Sharon got more involved through the Parent and Carer Network to help spread the word to other parents about services and to feedback parents’ views on the development of services.
I was pleased the Hampshire Parent/Carer Network could support the development of the service statement as I am passionate that others know what help there is whether their child has complex additional needs or just needs a little support to enjoy activities that other children take for granted,” said Sharon.
It is great that the Council has allowed parents to get involved in this way. I firmly believe that building this two way relationship is so important and if parents are involved in the planning of services I believe the outcomes are better. As parents we know what services will make a difference because unless you have a child with disabilities or additional needs you cannot really understand what it is like nor how you can best be supported. By working together in this way parents also gain an understanding of the parameters authorities must work within. Forming a partnership in this way we can look for creative solutions and often it is the smaller things which can make the biggest difference.”