Short breaks for disabled children may have to be funded from the £2bn early intervention grant announced in the comprehensive spending review it was revealed at Community Care Live Children and Families.
Christine Lenehan OBE, director of the Council for Disabled Children, told delegates that her organisation is expecting to see the early intervention grant cover funding for both short breaks and the transformation programme Aiming High for Disabled Children.
Lenehan said: “Aiming High continues to be ring-fenced until the end of March next year, but we know this won’t continue into the next financial year. In the comprehensive spending review settlement the government talked about the development of a £2bn early intervention fund or grant-which in effect picked up elements of Sure Start. Aiming High was delivered through the Sure Start mechanism so if there is any specific money for its continuation it will be delivered as part of the early intervention grant.”
She continued: “When the government announced the end of the child trust fund it also announced an additional £20m to fund short breaks but there was no mention of the mechanism of delivery. What we are now expecting is that that money will appear as a feature in the early intervention grant,” Lenehan said.
She added that the Council had not yet seen any of the details.
She said the Council also expects the government’s forthcoming Green Paper on disabilities and special educational needs to be published between mid-December and mid-January. It had been previously billed as due this autumn.
Insiders have indicated that the green paper will focus on educational and employment opportunities for disabled children and young people, Lenehan said, adding that the government’s commitment to personal budgets for disabled adults would “also certainly apply for children”.
“The government is very keen to bring into the Green Paper options and suggestions of how we move forward with personal budgets,” she said.
A recent report from Every Disabled Child Matters found many local authorities are not meeting their legal obligations when determining which families are eligible for breaks.
It warned local areas will be at risk of judicial review if action is not taken to clarify the law around eligibility criteria and called on the Department for Education to clarify this in forthcoming guidance.
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