The Short Breaks Team are having to make some major changes to our services due to the impact of COVID-19. Our specialist Short Breaks providers and many Direct Payment carers (PAs) are not able to offer any services at present and most activities are closed. Where services and activities remain open in the short term, many families have told us that they do not want their child/children to leave the house at this time.

Purchase of equipment/toys, etc.

Although we do not usually agree to the purchase of equipment, toys, etc. we feel that in the current circumstances we want to offer this to families where children are at home each day or who cannot access their usual Short Breaks. With immediate effect, for any family with a pre-paid debit card who still has funds in their Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) bank account, we are able to confirm that you can use the card to buy equipment such as outdoor play equipment, books, arts and craft materials, iPads, etc. to a maximum spend of £500 per child. Please note we cannot agree to the purchase of any subscription services such as Netflix, etc.

This money will be deducted from your Short Breaks funding as usual. Please either keep the receipts or preferably upload them to your PFS account.

If you do not already have a pre-paid card, please note that we are not able to issue new ones at this time. If you have a social worker, please contact them to see if they are able to help you instead. If you do not have a social worker, please speak to your child’s school who may be able to help or signpost you to other ways of accessing support.

Specialist Short Break Providers

It is likely that all our specialist Short Break providers will be closing down their services over the next few weeks if they have not already done so. When they re-open, they will not be able to offer every family their full allocation of sessions for the year, but we will be in regular contact with them to agree how the sessions they can offer can be offered fairly to all children who wish to accept places.

Direct Payment Personal Assistants (PAs)

The Direct Payment Support Service has produced some really helpful information regarding PAs during COVID-19. Letters are being sent to all parents that access a PA support service via Direct Payments.

If you have any urgent queries, please contact the DPSS employment team on 01603 222392 option 2.

New Applications

We are suspending new applications to the team for the next 3 weeks initially. We will keep this under review, taking account of the ongoing situation. Please note that the process for new applications takes between 6-8 weeks as we have to set up bank accounts etc. 

Therefore, if we have not already accepted your new application and a Short Breaks Coordinator has not made contact with you already, it is unlikely that your child will be able to access Short Breaks for at least 2 months


If your child’s Short Breaks review is due in the next 3 months, we will contact you by phone or email before then to plan services for the next 12 months.

Contact with the Short Breaks Team 

As all of the team are working remotely at present, if you have any questions relating to the current issues regarding Short Breaks, please contact the team via email if possible on [email protected]

If you do not have access to email, please leave a message on 01603 692455 and we will try to call you back as soon as possible. 

We understand this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone and want to assure you that we are doing all we can to provide support. We urge you to continue to check the latest health advice from Public Health England and the NHS and visit where there is comprehensive information about services during these exceptional circumstances.


SENsational Families is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1173051.
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