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Preparing your child for adulthood

A group of young people crowd around a tablet PC held by a young woman.

We can provide information and practical advice about the process of your child moving into adulthood. This is known as , sometimes referred to as PfA.

The preparation for adulthood should start as early as possible. Guidance on the law says that discussions about long term goals should start early, ideally well before year 9.

As parents we're preparing our children for adulthood from the moment they are born although we often don’t think in those terms. As we watch them grow we encourage them to do things and make choices for themselves until eventually they become adults and are independent of us, their parents and carers.

This process should be no different for a child or young person with special educational needs or disability (SEND). Preparation for adult life needs to start as early as possible in order to allow young people to develop the skills and knowledge they will need to have choice and control over their lives.

Under the a child becomes a young person from the last Friday in June after they turn 16, normally the end of Year 11.

Young people are given more of a say about their education than children, and parents have less of a say. Young people are encouraged to make decisions about their (EHC Plan), learning and life choices. As a parent or carer you are probably used to making these decisions for your child and you will continue to have a vital role in encouraging your young person to make and share their views, goals and ambitions for future life and have a smooth and positive transition to adulthood.

The law says children and young people can access information, advice and support separately from their parents. This must be impartial, confidential and free. If parents ask York SENDIASS for support for a young person over 16, we will ask for the young person’s consent and discuss the types of support we offer.

The aims of preparing for adulthood

The sets out how professionals across education, from early years to colleges, and within health and social care should support children and young people with SEND to prepare for adult life. The preparation for adulthood should focus on different aspects of the transition into adult life.

Education or employment

This includes exploring post-16 and post-19 education, and different employment options, such as support for becoming self-employed and help from supported employment agencies.

Independent living

Many young people with SEN will want to leave home and live independently or with support. Preparing for adulthood includes thinking about when a young person will leave the family home, where they will live and what support or skills they might need to do this.

Young people will also need to think about managing money, keeping themselves safe, making friends and being part of their local community.

Being part of society

You can help your young person think about living in their wider community and how they will have a social life.

Help them to think about their interests and hobbies, whether they want to join clubs or organisations and where they will meet and find friends. Some young people choose a volunteer role to begin with, to help them feel more independent and get a feel for the world of work.

Being as healthy as possible in adult life

As well as thinking about exercise and diet, your young person will need to take steps to stay healthy and well. This might mean regular check-ups, such as at the dentist and an ongoing health plan with the professionals they see already like an occupational therapist, doctor, physiotherapist, specialist nurse or consultant.

The health professionals they see are likely to change as they move from child to adult services and this needs to be planned well in advance. A small number of young people may need a Continuing Health Care Plan (CHC Plan). This supports people who need a lot of help because of their health, and can include help with living accommodation, carer support and travel.

See further information about , including the annual health check for 14 to 25-year-old’s with a learning disability.

See further information and advice about the aims of preparing for adulthood:

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Help with preparing for adulthood

A number of people or organisations might be involved in the process of preparing your young person for adulthood. Each person or organisation who has contributed to your young person's development so far will have valuable insight to offer.

The young person

The law says that as a young person develops, they should be more closely involved in decisions about their future, and if there is a disagreement their view can override that of their parents. Young people can say what their needs are and what they would like to do after leaving school.

Young people can also ask for the support of an advocate. This person’s role is to make sure that the young person’s views are considered by everyone involved. For information about advocacy for children and young people in York email:

Parents or carers

If your young person wants you to, you should continue to be involved in discussions about their future. Think about what they would like to achieve and what support they may need to do this.

You can help by talking things through with your young person and explain what they need to think about. See some helpful ideas about getting the transition planning process started: Making a plan (Contact).

You may like to make a list together and you can support your young person to give their views. You could think about:

  • their strengths, what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing
  • what is important to them now and for the future
  • the support that has worked well and what they have achieved
  • the support that hasn’t worked so well and what may need to be changed
  • what they still need to learn and what support they might need to do this

School or college

If you're concerned about preparing for adulthood, then you can speak to your child's school or college. You could ask for a meeting to discuss this and to identify any planning and support that is available.

If your child has an EHC Plan, then you could discuss preparing for adulthood at their next EHC Plan review.

We can help you to prepare for a school meeting or an annual review. If you would like further advice, information or support before meeting with school staff please do not hesitate to contact us.

Someone from school or college will provide information about their progress and the support they may need. Support staff that work with your child or young person can advise on what they think might be needed.

When a move is being planned, for example from school to college, it is helpful if someone from the proposed new setting can be present when meetings are taking place, to help with any decision making and provide you with reassurance about the support available.

Specialist Learning and Employment Advisors

Under section 42a of the Education Act 1997 there is a duty to provide young people with independent careers advice and guidance. This advice should also be tailored for their SEND to make sure they can access it and understand their options.

The Specialist Learning and Employment Advisors Team (SLEAT) support young people with an EHC Plan who are in education and training.

They work with young people from 13 to 25-years-old who are attending a secondary school or local specialist college in York, or those who are with personalised learning and training providers.

See further information about SLEAT (YorOK).

Preparing for Adulthood Team

If your young person is aged between 12 and 18 and they are likely to need support or care when they become an adult, you or they can ask for help from the Preparing for Adulthood Team. A preparing for adulthood social worker can be present at EHC plan review meetings.

The Preparing for Adulthood Team can help young people to get the right services and support to make the most of the opportunities of adulthood, becoming as independent, self-reliant and confident as possible.

See further preparing for adulthood resources (YorOK).

Other professionals

You can seek guidance about preparing for adulthood from any other professional that knows your child well or who is actively involved with your young person.

This could include health and social care professionals, if your young person is likely to need continuing health or care services.

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Preparation for adulthood and EHC Plans

All the support that your child or young person gets should aim to challenge them to achieve the best they can and be as independent as possible. Your young person’s EHC Plan should grow and evolve as they learn new skills and achieve their outcomes or goals. These outcomes should be ‘ambitious and stretching’. Support over the years builds into small stepping stones on the journey to adulthood.

If your child has an EHC Plan, the EHC Plan review meeting each year should include a focus on preparing for adulthood from Year 9 (ages 13 to 14) onwards, and include planning for supporting the transition from children’s to adult care and health services.

If there are still education or training outcomes in their plan which have not yet been achieved, EHC plans can stay in place from when a young person turns 19 until they’re 25. There isn’t an automatic right to have an EHC plan until a young person is 25.

Depending on what services your young person is accessing, a transition plan should be put in place to move them over to the relevant adult services. In the case of health services usually the current health service or paediatrician would usually identify who will lead on this transition and provide information about how to contact them. See further information about social care transition and assessments.

The transition age for education purposes is usually at 16. The transition age for health and social care is slightly later and is usually at 18, but some services may start the transition from 17.

See further information about preparation for adulthood and EHC Plans:

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Support after 18

places a duty on local authorities to carry out an assessment of a child’s needs where this would be of ‘significant benefit’ to the child, and if it is likely they will have care and support needs when they turn 18.

The local authority has to provide support to enable you to plan ahead as your child approaches their 18th birthday, so there are no gaps in services.

You, or your young person, may request an assessment at any time ahead of their 18th birthday. However, the local authority can be flexible with the timing of the assessment, and they decide whether and when there is ‘significant benefit’ to assessing needs.

See further information about .

Where a young person has autism, they have a right to a community care assessment and their parents have a right to a carer’s assessment. The duty lies with the SEN Coordinator (SENCO) in schools, or with the named SEN person in colleges, to build this into ‘preparing for adulthood’ reviews.

See further information and a model letter to ask for an assessment: (National Autistic Society).

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Person-centred planning

When planning for the transition into adulthood we would advise that you look at the person-centred planning approach.

Person-centred planning aims to put the child or young person at the centre of the planning and any decisions that affect them.

See further information and resources about the person-centred planning approach:

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Useful information and resources