Health and council bosses have still not reached a formal legal agreement about how to fund overnight short breaks for children with complex needs – months after the closure of Nascot Lawn.

Nascot Lawn Respite Service, in Watford, offered respite care for children with some of the most complex needs from across the county.

Following its closure, in November, the county’s two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) had indicated they would financially support alternative provision through Hertfordshire County Council.

But now it has emerged that an agreement in which each CCG was expected to commit £100,000 a year towards the provision of overnight short breaks has not yet been agreed.

Hertfordshire County Council has told the CCGs they cannot sign the current draft of the document because a clause in the current draft gives the CCG the right to call time on the agreement after just two years, subject to a 12-month notice period.

Now the county council is waiting for an amended document that will say the agreement can only be brought to an end after two years by “mutual consent”.

Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s impact of scrutiny committee, the council’s operations director for specialist services Marion Ingram said the amendment had been verbally agreed.

And she said she hoped the document would be agreed and signed off by the next meeting of the full council, on March 26.

“Unfortunately we are not there yet,” she said. “We don’t yet have a signed document.

“We have got an agreement on everything except an exit clause.”

Ms Ingram told the committee she did not anticipate a circumstance in which the agreement would end after two years through mutual consent.

The committee was meeting to consider progress on a range of issues related to overnight short break provision that had been highlighted by a ‘topic group’ in October.

In response to concerns about the loss of trust and confidence of parents and carers following the closure of Nascot Lawn, Ms Ingram said the authority was doing a lot of work in this area and was meeting with parents on a regular basis.

“I am confident we are working towards building that trust,” she said. “I am confident that a number of Nascot Lawn parents do trust us and do feel that the local authority is there to help.”

She also highlighted work to ensure care plans were shared between care providers in different settings.

And she said staff in each of the settings were receiving the same level of training, ensuring they could all meet the needs of the children they are looking after.

It was reported to the committee that “almost all” of the children who previously received respite care from Nascot Lawn were receiving their full allocation from the other settings or services.

However some, it was reported, were building up with ‘tea visits’ to the respite centres and one was transitioning to adult services.

Ms Ingram said the council was  working with each family individually and that some were “doing it at a different pace”.

Meanwhile Ms Ingrams also reported that the extension to West Hyde, which had been necessary for at least one  child from Nascot Lawn, had been completed. And she said it was currently waiting for Ofsted to visit so it could be registered.