DEVON County Council (DCC) have launched a new online system to help parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to spend their direct payments and personal budgets on services that meet their children’s care needs.

Through the new online system, called the ‘Devon Wallet’, parents and carers will be able to search for the support their child needs, and arrange and pay for that support using their direct payments or personal budgets.

It’s a move away from the pre-paid card system of paying for services.

The introduction to the Devon Wallet is being done in phases, starting with short break plans.

Short breaks give children and young people opportunities to make friends, socialise, develop new skills and have fun, while also enabling their parents or carers to have a break from their caring role.

The switch from the pre-paid card system to the new Devon Wallet platform follows feedback from families asking to have an easy-to-use online system that has everything – the full range of support services available to them, and means by which to arrange and pay for the support using their direct payments or personal budgets – all in the one place.

Councillor Lois Samuel, Cabinet Member for Send Improvement Services said: ‘Short Breaks benefit both the child with a disability and gives their family a much-needed time-out.

‘However, many parents have told us that the system for viewing and paying for Short Breaks isn’t as easy as it could be; families have told us they would like more visibility of the support available to them, an easy-to-use online system with everything they need in one place.

‘The new Devon Wallet delivers what parents have asked us for. Parents and carers will be able to search, arrange, and book support and be able to view and use their individual budget as agreed in their plan.’

DCC are running virtual drop-in sessions from March about the Devon Wallet for parents and carers with existing social care plans, to help explain the new system and to answer questions.