The right to short breaks for disabled children could become law

The government is considering setting a legal duty on all local authorities to provide Short Break services for disabled children and their families, it announced last week.

Under the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, the government has already ring-fenced £370m for short break services for local authorities in England in 2008-11.  

However, Lord Adonis, children, schools and families minister, at the launch of one of the programmes’ 21 pathfinder areas last Friday, said the government was now “looking at legal changes” to set standards for short break services.

Change in the law 

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Schools and Families added: “We are looking at whether legal changes are necessary to build on this programme [Aiming High for Disabled Children] in light of the support expressed for this during the passage of the Children and Young Persons Bill.”

Lord Adonis said at the event at the Phoenix Centre in Sutton, south London: “We want all families to have the support they need to bring up their children, including disabled children.”

This announcement was welcomed by the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign, whose headline objective has been to introduce a legal duty to provide short breaks.

Legal requirement

Christine Lenehan, speaking on behalf of the EDCM campaign board, said: “Funding will continue to be needed, but a legal requirement to provide a reasonable level of short breaks would also be a powerful lever for families to use locally.  We would urge the government to decide to go ahead with this change in the law.”

Lord Adonis was joined at the event by the conservative MP John Bercow, who is currently carrying out an independent review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.

More information

Aiming High for Disabled Children

Department of Children, Schools and Families

Every Disabled Child Matters

Bercow Review

Related items

Disabilities: call to test legal right for short breaks for families

Every Disabled Child Matters: Families denied short break rights

Standards aim high for disabled children


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