Hampshire councillors have voted to close two respite care centres in Winchester and Aldershot.
Despite parent opposition, Hampshire County Council formally recommended the closure of the centres, which provide care to 35 disabled children with the most complex needs in the area.
Amanda Batten, CEO of Contact and chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, said: “We are bitterly disappointed by Hampshire Council’s decision to recommend the closure of Merrydale and Sunbeams respite centres.
“Families who have fought to keep the centres open will be left feeling devastated and fearful for their families’ future.
“The council says that they are providing alternatives, but many of these are not suitable for the children who attend Merrydale and Sunbeams – 35 of the most sick and disabled children in the area who require round the clock care. So their families, who manage day in day out providing hours and hours of care every week – often emotional and stressful, sometimes physical and backbreaking – are understandably worried that they will be left without support.
“Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case and across the country families are facing similar battles. It’s vital short breaks services like those offered by Merrydale and Sunbeams remain a priority for local authorities. Their value is clear – as well as being nothing short of a lifeline for many families, they also save the state tens of millions of pounds by supporting parents to continue to look after their disabled children. The alternative crisis interventions, such as a child going to live in full-time residential care are extremely costly – an estimated £149,240 per year per child.