Part of our local offer

Short Breaks for children and young people with disabilities

Short Breaks for children and young people with disabilities


This page aims to set out our most current information about our short breaks offer in Newcastle and describe the range of available short break services available to families of children and young people aged 0-18 with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

The wider offer to those with additional needs 0-25 is considered on the Local Offer, though the commissioned short breaks services are aimed towards those aged 0-18 and commissioned through children’s services. Some of the short breaks offer includes activities which can be inclusive and include young people beyond 18.

This document is not intended to be an exhaustive list of services, as we know that service needs and availability of support services are regularly subject to change. At Newcastle, we aim to update this document every 12 months.

This document aims to provide some clear and transparent information which will allow children, young people and those who support them to understand the details of short breaks in the city.

Local Authorities have a statutory responsibility to ensure adequate provision of Short Breaks. Within the legislation statutory duties fall into three broad categories: 

  • Short Breaks for parents and carers of children with disabilities

  • Information, advice and support for children and their families

  • Improved access to community activities comparable to that of non-disabled peers.

What is a short break?

At Newcastle, we want all our children and young people to have opportunities to learn, develop skills for life and to be part of their community.

Some children and young people will need more support for their additional needs to be met through short breaks services. At Newcastle, we are ambitious about providing support to those most in need.

Short breaks provide children and young people with complex needs time away from their parents and carers to try out new things, have lots of fun, spend more time in the community, and make new friends. Short breaks also give children and young people an opportunity to learn new skills and increase their independence.

To meet a wide range of needs the Short Breaks offer follows a specialised, targeted and (improved access to) universal model. Feedback from parents, young people and providers is that additionality is needed within all areas to meet current demand.

In terms of the universal offer feedback from the targeted 2021 Short Break survey closely mirrored that from the 2022 Happiness Survey across all schools. Priorities, regardless of need, were to be able to spend time with friends and family and to be able to take part in sport, leisure, music, art and outdoor activities. Similarly, the concept of what ‘good’ looked like was consistent across both indicating that improving access to the universal offer would be of benefit to all children, not just those with SEND.

  • Short breaks are activities offered to children with additional needs, these can be during daytime, evening or overnight if needed. Short breaks can take place in the child’s home, the home of an approved carer; but can also include short breaks in the community such as youth clubs and sports clubs. We want our children and young people to be part of their community, so short breaks services can also consider inclusive groups and activities and supporting our young people to follow their interests and dreams.
  • Short breaks also support the parent/carer of the young person for a break from their caring role, to spend time with other family members and friends, or simply take time for themselves to do things that they otherwise might struggle to do. Short breaks should be child-centred, but also allow parents/carers a break, to support their resilience and to continue to do a great job in caring for the young people in the city.
  • Short breaks can also include activities for young people that they can do with parents/carers, that they may struggle to do without additional support.

Legal Responsibilities:

The legal duties that Newcastle City Council must follow for Short Breaks can relates to the following documents:

• Children’s Act 1989 and the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011

• Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act 1970

• Children Act 2004

• Children and Families Act 2014

• Equality Act 2010

• NHS Act 2006 (as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012)

• Care Act 2014 (in relation to transition to adult social care)


What do short breaks include?

Children’s Service providers in Newcastle actively promote the inclusion of disabled children and young people enabling them to achieve a short break.

The “Get Connected” programme has developed involving a group of arts, sports, music and dance providers who identified low cost or no cost activities for children with disabilities.

Newcastle Children’s Services have a provider framework which is regularly subject to review and was established in April 2012. In 2023, there are regular discussions with commissioning and our providers to ensure there is a wide range of services, enabling our young people and families to have choices around service provision. The Provider Framework delivers family support, enablement and group schemes for disabled children and their families. Our commissioning team are currently reviewing our provider framework.

Where the child or young people’s needs cannot be met via universal and targeted services, the Children with Disabilities Social Work Team may undertake assessments of need to consider support through a Social Care Personal Budget where the child has a complex disabilities and unmet needs. 

Short breaks for children with complex health needs may be joint funded by the Local Authority and N.H.S. when the child meets Children’s Continuing Care criteria. The child with complex needs panels considers joint funding arrangements.

Short Breaks available cover a range of services, organisations, providers across the voluntary, public and private sector. This diverse support reflects the needs of children and young people with additional needs. We recognise that service provision is subject to change, so the below list is not exhaustive but moreover provides a view around some of the opportunities and services available around short breaks. 

  • Small Grants

  • Family support in the home.

  • Individual one to one support in the community or in the home.

  • Peer to peer mentoring.

  • Holiday activities both inclusive and specialist.

  • Out of School activities during the week and weekends both inclusive and specialists.

  • Overnight Short Breaks.

  • Family activity holidays.

  •  Family days out.

  •  Max Cards.

How do Newcastle support our young people and those who support them with accessing short breaks?

A child with additional/complex needs does not need a Social Worker or a package of care to access short breaks. There are a range of commissioned services in Newcastle and the wider area that parents/carers can access, self-refer to and take their child or young person to.

The Children with Disabilities Team undertake assessments with the purpose of meeting the needs of children and young people who meet the criteria for support. This is a specialist team which provides support to the most vulnerable young people with the most complex needs, specifically those that cannot be met by Universal Services, Universal Services Plus, Early Help, or by families. The team are a specialist service targeted at those children and young people who are aged 0-18 years who have needs which meet the criteria for support. There are circumstances where CWDT work with children beyond 18 and up until 25, but the guidance around support for young adults up to 25 as part of the Children and Families Act 2014. CWDT will liaise with adult services and associated partners if there are additional needs which require support for young people aged 18 and over. 

The support that can be offered will be assessed and in line with the Local Offer/Support Directory. There are several commissioned services within Newcastle that can offer support to Children and Young People with additional needs without the need for a Social Worker or a needs assessment, these include:

Disabled Childrens Register

MAX Card  (and or DLA offer letter) – many national and local venues offer various offers, check out anywhere you are going to visit and web site 

Newcastle Support Directory -  is the website for children and families and children with Special Educational Needs (SEND) in Newcastle.

Newcastle Carer’s – provide support for parent carers including a carers grant, 

The Family Advice and Support team works with disabled children, young people and their families. The team includes Pass it on Parents, Family Advice Workers and project workers working together to provide co-ordinated support for families.  Find out more at 

Get Connected are specialists who can help children and young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities get involved in activities. They will explore what the child/ young person is interested in and recommend organisations and activities that are suited to them. Please contact, 07906854092

Access fund – this is a grant to help disabled children and young people to participate in activities in their local community.  This can be any daytime, evening or weekend activity that the child or young person enjoys whilst their parent/carer has a break from caring.   The Access Fund seeks to support children and young people to take part in inclusive activities alongside their non- disabled peers. Contact, 0191 2774400

Newcastle Youth this is a free young people’s peer mentoring service.  Youth Link works with young people aged 11 – 18

Bus pass and companion card – 

CEA card – this is for use at the cinema please check out for eligibility 

Newcastle Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) offer impartial and confidential advice to parent carers about matters arising to their child’s needs.


Early Help Support

Extra support may be needed at any point in a child or young person’s life, and we know that this may be needed particularly when parents are caring for a child or young person with additional needs. 

Being a parent can be a tough job and sometimes we all need a bit of help. 

Our Early Help services will work with you and your family, to start working together to make things better for your family.

Whether you’re looking to tackle an ongoing problem or prevent one from happening, Early Help can support your family to stay on track.

Once you reach out, we will work together with you and your family to decide what steps are next.  We will listen to what you say and discuss the resources and contacts available. 

If your family and our team decide there is need for extra support, we can link you with a Family Partner. They can find local support for a range of things parents and carers may be struggling with, such as supporting a child with further needs, money problems or teenage depression and anxiety. 

Community hubs are vibrant social spaces that offer a range of practical, educational and wellbeing activities for babies, children, young people, and families.  Activities offered in each local area are shaped by their local communities. 

The community hubs offer a range of services including: 

  • Support for your family 
  • Community midwifery 
  • Mental health support 
  • Children’s therapies 
  • Childcare 
  • Services for youth groups aged up to 18
  • Training opportunities and employability services 
  • Health visiting

To find your closest hub and what is going on in your area, please use the postcode checker on the Newcastle Support directory. 

For more general enquiries, contact Children and Families Newcastle by calling 0191 211 5805.

We’ll help you build on the good things in your life, so we’ll talk with your children and other family members, if that helps.

Newcastle’s aims for short breaks for children and young people:

  • We want to offer a wide range of quality services that provide children and young people opportunities for positive and meaningful experiences, particularly where they may have difficulties easily accessing community activities. 
  • We want these experiences to be enjoyable and to help with young people’s personal, social and educational development.
  • We want to our parents and carers to be confident that our services meet the needs identified in assessments, and for children, young people and parents/carers to enjoy a meaningful short break.
  • We want to ensure that we regularly review our service provision around short breaks, to allow families options for suitable and bespoke support.

What do our children, young people and those who support them tell us about short breaks?

‘We want to do more things in our own communities. ‘I want to do things where I live so I can make friends and have a good life’.

‘Our needs are not understood and there is often not the right staff ratio or staff who have had enough training to support us’.

‘Having quiet and calm spaces that helps my neuro diversity’. ‘I need to be able to relax and feel calm when I need it.

'Having the right toileting/ changing facilities with hoists etc for those that need it.’

Being able to work in a small group can help me’


What is our commitment to short breaks?

This revised statement and the commissioning work that underpins it is to promote continuous improvement across quality, best value, and efficiency. 

Partnership arrangements will continue across the Parent Forum, the Youth Participation Group, and the Providers Forum to capture feedback from children, young people and their families to ensure the evaluation of services continue to improve on quality.

Queries and questions

Short break provision and commissioned services in line with the short breaks offer are updated regularly and can be viewed on the Newcastle Support Directory/Local Offer. 

Questions and queries in relation to the short breaks offer can be directed to the Children with Disabilities Team on 01912774700. Office hours are between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

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