The government has selected 21 local authorities to kick-off the first wave of short-break services, over the next three years, for families with disabled children.
The £370m short-break services, announced yesterday (Monday), will provide both carers and disabled children with activities and valuable time apart, will extend to all local authorities in England from 2009.
The 21 Pathfinder areas were chosen by the Department for Children, Schools and Families for their ability to deliver “immediate improvements” to their existing short-break services. The 21 local authorities will also share best practice on commissioning and provision.
Dame Jo Williams (pictured right), chief executive of Mencap, said: “The main priority now is that these pathfinder authorities set up good short-break services as a matter of urgency in order to enable families to go on caring.”
According to a Mencap report, Breaking Point, eight out of 10 families with disabled children could no longer cope, said Williams.
And, the Aiming High for Disabled Children review found that short breaks were the top priority service for families with disabled children.
In total, the review will deliver over £430m to local authorities and primary care trusts over the next three years for disabled children services.
Christine Lenehan, director of the Council for Disabled Children and member of the ministerial implementation group for Aiming High for Disabled Children, said: “These are truly significant sums of money which will give local authorities and their NHS partners every opportunity to provide the support that disabled children and their families need.”
Care minister Ivan Lewis, added: “It is intended that all disabled children will benefit from this investment, including those with complex health needs or life-limiting conditions requiring palliative care.”
Bournemouth-Dorset-Poole (joint pathfinder)
Telford & Wrekin