Short breaks for disabled children

Short breaks (previously known as respite care) provide disabled children and young people with an opportunity to be supported to take part in group or individual activities.

Short breaks allows them to have fun and relax and/or to pursue an interest. They provide families with the opportunity to 'take a break’ from their caring responsibilities, the opportunity to rest and/or spend time with their other children.

We recognise that each child and family is unique and will have different levels of support from their wider family and friendship network. Some families may need more support because of their family circumstances - this may be for a short period of time, or it may be longer-term.

Who can get a short break

You may be entitled to a short break:

  • you need to be living in the county of Leicestershire
  • your child needs to have a disability
  • your child is aged 5 to 15 and is in receipt of high-rate care for Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • your young person is aged 16 or 17 and is in receipt of high-rate care for Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan or has been sent a letter that states your child will be receiving an EHCP

You are disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

  • substantial is more than minor or trivial, for example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed. 
  • long-term means 12 months or more, for example a breathing condition that develops because of a lung infection.

Don't meet the full criteria 

If you don't meet the full criteria, for example if your child does not have an EHCP, but does meet the definition of disabled, it may be possible to request an assessment to explain why your child/family needs support.

Please note: we will not consider agreeing a short break if you haven't yet applied for DLA or PIP, and you must be resident in the county.

Overnight short breaks

If you need an overnight short break, this is completed through an assessment by a social worker in the Children’s Disability Service. Overnight breaks are generally only agreed for children with more complex needs and circumstances in line with our thresholds.


An assessment will be carried out by either Early Help or a social work team looking at the over all needs of the family. Short breaks may or may not be recommended following this assessment. You can request children and family services using our request for services form

Types of short break offer

Summer Direct Payment card

An amount of money available on a card over the summer period to spend on activities and/or resources for the child or young person to access.

Self-assessed direct payments

Direct payments can be used flexibly to meet the needs of your child, eg. community activities, for example play schemes, holiday clubs, youth clubs, faith groups, sports, dance and drama classes, etc. These maybe mainstream or specialist.

Worker-assessed direct payment

This will enable you to employ a Personal Assistant who can provide the support to access a particular activity or support the child to pursue a particular interest or hobby.

Worker-assessed commissioned service

A service arranged through Leicestershire County Council. This may include weekend, after school or school holiday activity sessions, providing a range of activities such as arts and crafts, dance, outdoor experiences, music, sports, etc.

Domiciliary care

This provides help within the home for families requiring additional support with morning and evening routine and personal care.


Overnight respite can only be assessed by a social worker, and it may be provided by either foster carers in their own home or a carer attending the family home due to a child’s high-level complex needs. Legislation sets the amount of hours that a child or young person can access before being classed as a looked after child.

Further reading