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Care breaks to support children with disabilities

Communities / Mon 24th Mar 2014 pm31 03:04pm

ESSEX County Council is launching a new fee paid short breaks scheme to support children with disabilities and their families during this year’s Share the Care Week 2014 (23 – 29 March).

Short break carers offer regular day care, overnight stays or weekend breaks for children with disabilities. This allows the children to form new friendships and to gain more independence outside of the family circle, while parents get a chance to concentrate on their other children or to recharge their batteries.

The new scheme is aimed at people who have experience of caring for children with disabilities and who can offer short breaks for a minimum of 5 nights a week for 48 weeks of the year. It comes with a generous fee, training and support package as the carers will be supporting children who may display challenging behaviour or have complex medical conditions.

Carers who have much less time to give can still apply to become a short break carer. Short breaks for children are very flexible, working around the carer and the time they have to give. Many carers are working outside the home and so training can be delivered in the evenings and at the weekend to suit carers who work. No specific qualifications are necessary, although some understanding or experience of disabilities is helpful. As well as full training, all carers receive ongoing support and advice as well as an hourly or overnight fee.

Ann, whose son who benefits from short breaks, said: “Short breaks have been absolutely fantastic for us. It’s like a second home for our son Thomas and he loves Mandy and her family. The two nights he spends with Mandy gives our other two children a chance to do the things they want to do, and me and my husband a couple of nights’ sleep. It makes all the difference to us.”

Darren who provides short breaks said: “The positive impact on our family has been huge. The little boy we do short breaks for has brought so much to our lives and our children’s lives.”

Councillor Dick Madden, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “There’s now a choice of short break schemes to suit individuals with a wide range of circumstances. So whether you have a little time to give, or a lot, if you think you could make the room in your life to support a disabled child then please get in touch.”

On Thursday 27 March there will be a short breaks stand in the atrium at County Hall, Market Road, Chelmsford. Drop in for an informal chat from 9am to 3pm. To find out more about short breaks for children Essex visit www.essex.gov.uk/shortbreaks or call 0800 801 530.

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