Families of children with special educational needs and disabilities told us that they’re worried that the provision of short breaks may be affected by the budget cuts that Camden has to make from 2015. Cuts in the region of £94,000 and a further £190,000 by 2017/18 are proposed.
We conducted a survey to let the families’ voices be heard. We wanted to reach a large number of families so we teamed up with six of the local organisations that provide specialist play schemes and other types of short breaks for children in Camden.
140 families took part in the survey. This represents about 27% of all the children who are currently eligible for short breaks.
Topliners from our survey results are:
Families who have children with special needs place very high value on short breaks and don’t want to lose this service. 93% said the short breaks help them stay emotionally and mentally strong. They play an important part in reducing stress and anxiety and the exhaustion that results from constant caring.
One mum was not alone when she said: “I would go crazy without the short breaks because my disabled child needs my help all the time.”
The results of our survey showed that there is a significant risk that a cut in short breaks may reduce the resilience of families so much that they can’t cope with caring for their own children.
Our recommendations urge Camden Council to consider the risk that cost savings in the short breaks offer may be offset by significantly higher future additional costs. For instance through the provision of other services (such as mental health care,) if parents become less able to cope.
Camden Council has responded formally in writing to our recommendations. You can see their response in our report.
The Council is currently consulting people about their future plans for short breaks provision and the Healthwatch Camden survey results are going to feed into this process.
We hope that the survey results and our recommendations will help to give local families a stronger voice in decision making around short breaks in Camden.
See our report here