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Information for parents who have a social worker, MAST worker or SNIPS worker

This information sheet is to help parents and carers navigate the support that is available to them during the current covid-19 situation.

Contact Details

MAST: 0114 203 7485

Children with Disabilities Service (including Preparation for Adult Team):           0114 2735198 

SNIPS mentor (Special Needs Inclusive Play Service):        0114 2735368
or e-mail:   

Disability Sheffield:  0114 2536750
or e-mail:

You can also get information via our social media links.

 Sheffield Family Centres - YouTube


Q How can social care be proactive in supporting families?

A Social workers, MAST and SNIP workers are all actively contacting the families on their caseloads to ensure that the right support is in place. This is being done with face-to-face visits, virtual visits and support as well as telephone contact. All face-to-face visits are taking social distancing precautions and some workers may wear personal protective equipment so as not to place families or themselves at risk. If families are self-isolating, then these visits will on the whole be virtual. We are also working closely with education and schools to ensure that children are accessing schools or are receiving support from teaching staff.

Children’s Short Break Services

Q Can the Children’s Short Break Services remain open?

A The day-time Short Break Services (SNIPs clubs) and overnight Short Break Homes can remain open for vulnerable children to attend and most services are running as they have done since the summer. During 2020 the services introduced new ways of working to ensure they adhere to national guidance, including social distancing (where possible), increased hygiene, the wearing of PPE in line with recommendations, and systems for dropping children off and collecting children. Many families will have seen changes to how the services run, and the services will continue to review and introduce new measures as required.

We know we will continue to see ups and downs along the way, for example if there is an outbreak of Coronavirus within a service or staff need to shield.

Occasionally, a service may feel they need to take a decision that they cannot open safely. If this happens, the service will be in touch with families to discuss this, and the SNIPs mentor will contact families to discuss options.


Q What should a family do if they feel apprehensive, or are not sure if their child should be shielding

Some families may feel apprehensive about their child attending their short break service and if this happens, we ask families to discuss this with their club, contact their SNIPs mentor or their short break home.

If anyone is unsure as to whether their child should be shielding, we ask families to look at the national guidance for parents and carers (please see the question below) or discuss this with their GP.


Q What can families do when taking their children to their short break service?

A The government has written ‘Guidance for Parents and Carers of children attending out of school settings during the coronavirus covid 19 oubreak’ (see link below). This sets out what to look for at your service and answers many questions parents may have.

It is important that families follow the national guidance for anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:

Anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, such as a raised temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss of or change to their sense of smell or taste, should stay at home. They should not attend an out-of-school setting and should follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and get a test.

The Short Break Grant Scheme

Q What are the plans for the Short Break Grant Scheme?

A The Short Break Grant Scheme 2020/21 is running and the deadline for applying has been extended until 31st March 2021. The grant must be spent by 31st May 2021.

If a family is not able to use the grant on the activity planned due to restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, they can use the grant for a different activity as long as this meets the same needs and is in keeping with the Short Break Grant Guidance. We ask families to inform the Short Break Grants team who will amend their application form for them. 

Direct Payments and Personal Assistants

Sheffield City Council has produced guidance for people using Direct Payments and managing your Personal Assistants (PAs) during the coronavirus pandemic. You can find this guidance here

We have also worked with people who use Direct Payments to create a number resources to help, including risk tools for PAs, access to protective equipment, key worker letter confirmations and finding PA cover. Please visit the Disability Sheffield website here.

There is also a Frequently Asked Questions for families who have a PA to provide support for their child, you can find this here: Coronavirus: Direct payments and PAs | Sheffield Directory

Q If a short break service has stopped, can parents request funds to pay for resources and equipment instead, e.g. tablet computer, broadband connection, or a trampoline?

A We understand that the current situation is a challenge for many families but particularly when children have additional needs. Where a family already receives a direct payment, it is possible the purchase of equipment or other relevant resources as long as what is purchased meets the same needs and achieves the outcomes and goals set out in the Direct Payment plan. Please ensure all receipts are kept for any equipment that is purchased.

Alternatively, we can purchase equipment on behalf of a family and would suggest that family speak to their worker about this. We also have some volunteers who are able to help with more practical things that families may need.


Q Can families who would normally attend a short break service but cannot at this time, switch to Direct Payments now, and then switch back to their service when things are back to normal? If so, who should they contact, and how long would it take to process such a request?

A Because of the way that direct payments are set up, it can take a long time to arrange. However, if families identify what would assist them, then please contact your social worker, SNIPS worker or MAST worker to discuss.

Transition to adult social care

Q How will young people who are leaving education and transitioning to adult social care this summer be supported?

A Workers in the Preparation for Adult team are remaining in regular contact with all families on their caseload. We are providing an on call “duty” worker Monday to Friday. Each special school and Sheffield College has a named link worker /workers in the team. The care and support plans do not need to have a panel and we can be flexible about the support that we can provide.

Special schools and colleges are in close contact with Special Educational Needs team (this is where SENDSARS are based), and the planning and support for school and college leavers will continue. Providers are also being flexible. Plans for young people who are leaving education should be being developed now.

Additional Support

Q I am really struggling to cope, is there any additional support that can be offered?

A Please contact the Children with Disabilities Team for any emergency packages that are needed and for advice about other options available.


Q What about Schooling?

There is an information sheet about Education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the national lockdown: Education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the national lockdown | Sheffield Directory


Q Parenting support on YouTube

The Parenting Team and Early Years staff have been busy and have their own YouTube channel for parenting and early years. They have a number of videos for parents of children with disabilities. Topics include:

  • Descriptive commenting to develop language in children
  • Praising your children and positive attention
  • Developing your new baby’s brain
  • Sleep
  • Messy play activities and other early years topics.

More are added on a regular basis


Last Updated: 08/02/2021
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