Equality Impact Assessment

Name of the proposal : Short Breaks for Disabled Children

Department : Childrens Services

Name of lead officer : Suzanne Dobson

Publication date: 22/06/2012

Review date: 15/12/2012

Departmental Manager Approval by : Steve Crocker

Departmental Manager Approval date : 02/09/2013

 

 

Main purpose and aims of the policy, plan or project

The Short Breaks Programme is designed to enable children and young people with disabilities and/or additional needs to join in with safe, fun and interesting activities and to give parents or full-time carers an opportunity to have a break from caring.

The programme is available to all children from 0-19 years with a disablity who either live in Hampshire (excluding the unitary authorities of Portsmouth and Southampton) or attend a Hampshire school.

It has built on the work of the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme which ran from April 2008 - March 2011. As part of Aiming High, central government gave each local authority monies to ensure a better range of services for disabled children. Nationally and locally Aiming High produced very positive outcomes with a substantial increase in the number of short breaks that families could access. National research indicated that families were being supported to stay out of crisis situations.

Main elements of the policy, plan or project

From April 2011, the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations came into force (implementing Section 25 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008. This imposed a new statutory duty on local authorities to provide services to carers of disabled children that allow them to continue to care and/or allow them to care more effectively.

Services are accessed directly by families once they have registered for a Gateway Card which is issued by the short breaks team based in Winchester. The team consists of a team manager, a short breaks co-ordinator, and two administrators.

The Gateway card can be applied for online or by completing a form, and returning this to the short breaks team using a freepost envelope. Families can “opt in” on the form to receive further information about the short breaks and activities which are available. This year, a Gateway booklet has been produced which lists providers in Hampshire offering inclusive or specialist activities. A supplement will be produced 3 times a year which lists activities on offer. There is also a Hampshire Gateway website where families can search for activities by provider, date, location or type of activity.

The scheme includes the following elements,

1 Specialist playschemes, which include holiday and weekend playschemes which are specifically and exclusively for children with disabilities.

2 Support for individuals (whereby a disabled child can attend a mainstream activity, and the provider can apply for funding for any training, equipment or additional staff needed in order to include the child effectively.) Organisations which are already successfully including disabled children and young people in a mainstream scheme can also apply for funding to support a set number of children or young people to be included in their setting, allowing them to respond more quickly to demand.

3 Community buddies, which is a new scheme for children from 7 -19 years designed to help them access chosen activities (leisure or social), in the community with appropriate support. This is intended for ad hoc activities such as visiting the park, going shopping or going to the cinema, rather than an organised event. There are community buddies schemes operating in every district in Hampshire, some using volunteer buddies and others using paid workers.

In order to develop their services to meet the needs of disabled children, independent providers can apply for smaller grants from the short breaks panel which meets on a fortnightly basis. Grants up to £,5000 are considered at the fortnightly panels; panels for larger grants in excess of £5,000 are held twice a year and recommendations are suject to approval by the Executive Lead Member for Children's Services

Recently, a grant has been provided to run a new Bridging Worker Service. Eight bridging workers have been recruited across the county to work directly with providers and families to enable access to mainstream activities and develop leisure services for disabled children.

Detailed Assessment

Age: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: The scheme does not actively discriminate on age but given parental concern it is likely that services for some aged based cohorts of children are less well developed.
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: The Short Breaks Team to build on the work undertaken in the last year and actively encourage parents of younger children to utilise the "Support for Individuals" grant stream which means they can access local nursery, playschemes or childminder provision and have the additional support provided by Short breaks funding.

The Short Breaks Team and their partners to continue to liaise with providers to encourage the development of holiday playschemes for older teenagers.

Disability: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: Of a cohort of children of almost 8000, it appears that only a third are registered for a Gateway Card which enables them to access the short break service.

It appears that from parental feedback about the short breaks service, that there is a cohort of children who because of their complex disability and health needs are not able to fully access short break services.

What action will be taken to address any identified issues: In partnership with Hampshire Parent/Carer Network and Parent Voice, develop, publish and make accessible a more detailed service statement which highlights to parents and their carers, what services are offered and the how best to access them.

Develop local parent groups which will replace the centralised panel system of awarding grants.

Specialist Playschemes based in special schools are now requred tp offer places to children in their local area (rather than restricting to children who attend the school.)

Continue to develop the Community Buddy Scheme to ensure that it can meet the needs of the children with the most complex needs.

Faith: Impact : Low
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Gender: Impact : Low
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Transgender: Impact : No Impact
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Race: Impact : Low
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Sexual Orientation: Impact : No Impact
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Marriage / civil partnership: Impact : No Impact
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Pregnancy & maternity: Impact : No Impact
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Other factors: Impact : Medium
Any specific issues identified: Currently the formula used to work out how much money (grant) is awarded to which particular geographical area does not take into account numbers of children for whom DLA is claimed.
What action will be taken to address any identified issues: The system for the allocation of grants to independent providers, needs to be reviewed to ensure that monies are awarded proportionally to geographical areas with the greatest incidence of need (based on DLA claimants and information collated via the Gateway Card.)

Details of why some groups are low and/or no impact

The service is set up to provide services to disabled children and is inclusive to children from 0-19 years whose parent or carer defines that they have a disability or additional needs.

Short breaks are now provided by a wide range of independent providers, and these providers are subject to monitoring processes established by the Short Breaks Team Manager. It is clear that children regardless of their age, gender, race, faith, transgender status, sexual orientation etc are able to have a service and that none of the above categories are used to exclude children, either directly or indirectly, from short break services. However, we are mindful that robust monitoring of providers is the key to ensuring that inequalities are addressed. The development of the Gateway Card, records children's ethnicity, age, gender, and disability. This collated information is to be used to build a picture of services accessed and the the needs of the the cohort of children.

Positive action is taken to ensure that services are available and supportive of children from minority ethnic backgrounds, and the short break leaflet is available in a number of different languages and in Braile. The short breaks team ensure that where appropriate children and their parents have access to interpreters, (both spoken language and sign language.)

Conclusion

The Short Breaks Service has made significant headway in providing support to disabled children and their families. The development of the Gateway card issued by the Short Breaks team, ensures that areas of children's race, gender, faith and age are known and recorded centrally. This information informs the monitoring of providers that is undertaken by the team.

The three areas that need a clear plan to address inequalities are disability, age and geographic location as detailed above.

 

For more information please visit the Hampshire County Council Equality & Diversity web page.