2009 Time for a Short Break
Of all the services KIDS provides, Direct Short Breaks offers perhaps the most immediate benefit for parents and carers; providing positive experiences for young people and inclusive support to families when they need it most.
KIDS' short breaks service had been around for many years before KIDS Direct Short Breaks were launched. However, the practice had been to undertake these at residential centres, something that delivered a host of benefits to both parents and children but also the pressure of needing to book well in advance. When KIDS launched its Direct Short Breaks service at the House of Commons on June 6th 2009, it contained one significant selling point that transformed the value of the service itself.
For the first time, Direct Short Breaks allowed families to book through a telephone helpline or website, offering far greater immediacy and flexibility. Families could access their account at any time, book the break that suited them best and even choose which helpers were responsible for taking care of their children. Helpers could list their profile online which would then be reviewed in the secure knowledge that those details had been already verified (including thorough CRB checks).
Although this significantly reduced the administrative burden to the charity, it did not mean simply transferring work and responsibility to families. Not only was the website designed for ease of use, speed and security, KIDS was also available to discuss personal circumstances one-to-one if necessary, arranging for a local supervisor to visit the family first. Our commitment to parents has always been to support them when and where they need it most - in their homes, rather than at remote residential centres.
Over the past two years, the Direct Short Breaks service has grown and improved. For instance, the database now contains details of over 100 short break workers, typically students trained in a relevant discipline, from medics to youth practitioners and social workers. This offers families an unparalleled level of choice and control, combined with added peace of mind. For helpers, we also provide a fair working allowance and all the training and support they need to further their own careers.
Today, KIDS runs a Direct Short Breaks service in roughly half of the UK's local authorities, as well as other play services which fulfil many of the same purposes. However, as with many of the services KIDS provides, much depends on the outcomes from the government's Critical Spending Review in October. Originally, there were plans for a £280 million investment in this area over the next three years - something which would have allowed us to fund even more than the 1500 short break hours per month we currently provide.
Read a Short Breaks Case study to find out how this service transformed the life of one young person.
Whatever the spending review holds, becoming the UK's leading online provider of short break holidays for disabled children and young people remains one of KIDSí Key Programme Objectives.
Visit the Direct Short Breaks website to find out more.