More than half of local authorities have cut spending on short breaks for families with disabled children since 2011/12, says new research published by the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign. The research also shows that families are reporting that it is more difficult to access short breaks, which are also often referred to as respite care.
The consortium of charities involved in the campaign is warning of the economic and social consequences if local authorities are forced to make further cuts to short breaks services, and is calling on the Chancellor to renew the Government’s commitment to investing in short break services in this autumn’s spending review, as he did in 2010. This will send a clear message to families that their huge contribution is valued and to local authorities that they must protect funding to disabled children services.
Short breaks provide a lifeline for families with disabled children, says a spokesperson for the consortium, helping to hold families together and opening up the world to their disabled children, giving them independence. Short breaks are proven to lower rates of stress, depression and sleep deprivation, helping to prevent families from reaching breaking point. They allow parents time with their other children who can often miss out due to all the things their parents have to juggle such as medical appointments, assessments and work.
Families that receive a regular break from caring are also emotionally healthier.
The new research also shows that despite pressures to cut, some local authorities have protected short breaks services.
“The value of investing in short breaks is beyond doubt”, says Amanda Batten EDCM Board Member and CEO at Contact a Family. “They save the State tens of millions of pounds by supporting parent carers to look after their disabled children, and they give disabled children and young people opportunities that their peers take for granted.”