Thousands of disabled children denied essential breaks

More than 3,000 disabled children across the country are on waiting lists for essential short break services, a survey by the Shared Care Network has revealed.

Other children are missing out altogether as they are taken off waiting lists when appropriate carers cannot be found, many short break organisations admit.

Short break services link disabled children with individuals and families who provide regular short-term care in order to help them pursue interests outside the school and home environment.

But the charity’s survey reveals that waiting lists for these services are “commonly a year long”, with one child reported to have waited four-and-a-half years before being helped. Children with autistic spectrum disorders, challenging behaviour and those with complex healthcare needs tend to wait the longest.

The Shared Care Network claims there is not only a shortage of carers but a lack of resources to carry out carer recruitment and support.

Chief executive Candy Smith said: “We urgently need more people to come forward as short break carers. Many disabled children are still waiting to take part in ordinary social activities. Using leisure facilities, and visiting and playing with friends are a normal part of childhood.”

Still Waiting? will be launched this week to as part of a national recruitment campaign and to mark Share the Care Week. Go to

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