Preparing for Adulthood for young people with Special Educational Needs or a disability (SEND) can also be called "Transition to Adulthood" or the "Transition Stage".  How this happens or who is involved will vary for each young person depending on individual circumstances and the support and services that a young person has been receiving as a child.

It is a time when young people and their families are thinking about the future. If people are likely to have care and support needs when they are 18, they need information and advice so that they can make the necessary plans.

The Transition stage can include:

  • transition from children’s to adult specialist services
  • transition from school to FE College, higher education or employment, training or apprenticeship 
  • transition from college or training to employment and or adult services
  • transition from paediatric to adult health services 
  • transition from living at home to supported accommodation and 
  • leaving care.

Transition planning usually begins in Year 9 (the school year in which a child has their 14th birthday).     

  • The “Preparing for Adulthood” process is when professionals will consult with you and your son or daughter to consider if they may need specialist support during transition and into adulthood from the age of 18 years.
  • Young people with an Education Health and Care Plan will be supported through the changes by the Preparation for Adulthood team which is part of the SEND team. Some young people may have support from organisations in the voluntary sector.
  • If a young person is eligible for social care support from the Integrated Service for Children with Disabilities (ISCD) they may also have a Social Worker or a Family Support Worker who will provide information and support during transition. They will transfer their case to an adult social care worker if the young person is eligible and support in adulthood is needed.
  • Other young people may need specialist health support including therapeutic input, continuing healthcare or specialist community health services.
  • If a young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) they may need support in education which will be discussed and reviewed during transition. The EHCP can be maintained until the young person is 25 years old.
Planning for transition - finding out if a young person and their family are eligible for services as an adult.

The law (The Care Act) says that if a child, young carer or an adult caring for a child (a “child’s carer”) is likely to have needs when they, or the child they care for, turns 18, the local authority must assess them if it considers there is “significant benefit” to the individual in doing so.

This is regardless of whether the child or individual currently receives any services. When either a child or a young carer approaches their 18th birthday, they may ask for an assessment. A parent or carer may also ask for an assessment as the child they are caring for approaches 18.

You can read more about this in a fact sheet prepared by the Department of Health

The Care Act – transition for children to adult care and support (opens a pdf)