Supporting the most vulnerable children, young people and adults is a priority for us, especially at this time. This is a challenge unlike any we have faced in our lifetimes. We know that this period is particularly hard for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their families and those who support them. Co-production with families, partnership and communication remain critical.
Short breaks (or ‘respite care’) are funded opportunities for disabled children and young people to be cared for away from the family homes, which local authorities have a statutory duty to provide. Local authorities are best placed to understand the needs of their local area and to commission provision appropriately. We have published guidance to support providers in operating safely and emphasised the importance of prioritising the delivery of service which support disabled children and young people.
On 2 July 2020, the government announced that an additional £500 million funding will be available for additional expenditure across local government services, taking the total additional funding made available to local authorities to £3.7 billion. This can support local authorities to deliver their respite offers (in line with their existing duties) and to address increased costs.
On 19 May 2020, the department announced that the family fund will receive funding of £37.3 million in 2020-21 to help low income families with seriously ill or disabled children (over 75,000 families). £10 million of the total has been committed specifically in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our Holiday Activities and Food Programme is integral to our approach to provide healthy food and activities to children over the summer. On 22 June, we announced 17 local authority areas that will benefit from our holiday activities and food programme this summer 2020, providing thousands of children with access to healthy meals and enriching activities, building on the success of the 2018 and 2019 programmes. This programme is open all children eligible for free school meals in those areas, including those with SEND.