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Supporting families & disabled children with easier access to Short Breaks

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child or young person with extra needs is extra hard – Short Breaks Can Help!

Parents of children with disabilities do a lot to support their child in daily life. In doing so, they can face many challenges and obstacles. Life can be really difficult and that’s why it’s so important that access to information and services for disabled children and young people needs to be quick, simple and not another onerous chore that’s difficult to manage.

To help these families, Local authorities have legal duties to provide breaks for carers and disabled children called ‘Short Breaks’ and to make it clear how families with disabled children can access these. Short Breaks are fun breaks that offer enjoyable leisure activities giving children and young people the chance to have fun and make friends and memories outside of hospital walls. They can also help parents and their other children to take a break from their caring responsibilities and give them the chance to re-charge their batteries.

So – what’s the catch?

In some areas, having the right information in the first place and actually knowing that Short Breaks exist as an option can sometimes be a feat in itself for parents. There are other difficulties that can also make a Short Breaks scheme quite difficult to manage for Local Authorities.

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council in Greater London conducted an in-depth review of their Short Breaks Personal Grants Scheme and this review, which included consultation with parents, showed that:

  • Families did not know what Short Breaks activities or services were available in the area so were unsure of what to spend the money on
  • Most families did not send in the receipts of what they had spent to the council which meant it was difficult to monitor spend.
  • In some cases money was used for things like food shopping or towards general household bills instead of short breaks activities
  • Managing the scheme was very time consuming and expensive for the council
  • Any unspent funds were difficult to trace and be refunded back to the council

It was definitely time for a change and so they looked at easier ways for people to apply for their child’s Short Breaks personal budget, to give families a much wider choice and easier access to services and for managing their Short Breaks budgets. 

After this extensive consultation with families and providers, LBBD decided to implement the PPL online digital platform (Virtual Wallet) as an alternative way for families to manage their Short Breaks.

How Does it Work?

Everything is now managed through the website – applications, awards, booking services via the marketplace and automatic payments to providers. The new process is simple:

  1. The parent logs on and completes the online application form
  2. The system automatically validates the application
  3. Funds are immediately credited to the parent's Virtual Wallet account
  4. The family browse the marketplace and selects the break, activity or voucher that suits their needs
  5. The cost is debited from the individual's Virtual Wallet and the supplier is paid
  6. Council staff get a real-time report of activity and spend

Feedback from parents using the website has been really positive. Parents found the application process being much less time-consuming and really appreciated the wider range of services and activities available to them. 

The results speak for themselves:

  • 80% of applications were auto-validated, with funds credited to the Virtual Wallet within hours
  • 65% cost savings for administering the scheme
  • 10% of funds were unspent and clawed back

If you would like to know more about we can help you manage and deliver your Short Breaks Budgets for families and children, then please use the link to contact us.

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