Working outside the box report

A summary report of the evaluation of short breaks and intensive support services to families and disabled young people whose behaviour is severely challenging.

Seven main lessons can be drawn from the study to inform service delivery and commissioning.

  • The services are specialist, targeted provision for selected children with complex needs and their families. This emphasis needs to be promoted with commissioners.
  • Strong partnerships with commissioners and other service providers are key to providing coordinated and effective packages of support to families. Specialist services of this type cannot function as ‘stand-alone’ services.
  • Parents benefit when their support needs are identified and trusted relationships forged. Merely providing a break is insufficient to help reduce the stresses they
  • The amount of service provided to families is regularly reviewed to ensure responsiveness, effectiveness and cost efficiency.
  • The short breaks and intensive support provided by Action for Children improve children’s and family’s well-being. Children develop a range of skills and which help reduce their challenging behaviours. Parents also gain personally from improvements in their children.The expertise and experience of staff means they are well suited to advise and train others, such as parents or staff in other services.
  • The young people have increased opportunities for participating in community
    activities - a major achievement given the range of behaviours which are challenging to others. However, their social inclusion remains limited compared to their non-disabled peers.
  • No clear pathways exist for the transition to adult services. Major improvements are needed in the way adult services provide for these young people and their families.

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