Community care and education law solicitors answer frequently asked questions about the transition process from children’s to adult care services
No, services must not be stopped just because a young person has turned 18. The law states that support from the LA’s children’s services must continue until adult provision has started, or until the young person has been assessed as ineligible for adult care and support. Even if the young person is not eligible for support from adult services, the LA must provide advice about how their needs can be met.
If the young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), children’s services can decide to continue to provide support after the young person turns 18 until the EHCP ceases. Again, the LA must continue the children’s services until a decision is made about the young person’s need for support from adult services.
The Local Authority’s “Local Offer” should include information and advice on local services and how to receive an assessment for transition to adult care and support. The Local Offer is usually found on the LA’s website.
Young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) turning 18 may become eligible for adult care services, even if they have not previously met the EHCP criteria or have not been receiving care services from children’s social care. The LA must carry out an adult care transition assessment at a time when it is of ‘significant benefit’ to a young person to do so and if they are likely to have needs for care or support after turning 18.
The transition assessment may conclude that ongoing children’s services are the best way to meet the needs of some young people with complex SEN and care needs. This can continue up to the age of 25 for a young person with an EHCP.
The transition assessment looks at what care and support needs a young person is likely to have after they have turned 18. It should help the young person and their family plan for the future by giving them information about what support they can expect.
The assessment must be person-centred and reflect the young person’s views and wishes. It must also involve anyone else who the young person wants involved, such as their parents.
For young people with an EHCP, transition assessments should build on the EHCP which will already contain information about their needs, their aspirations and progress towards achieving their outcomes. Transition assessments can be coordinated with an annual EHCP review.
The LA must give an indication to the young person of which of their needs are likely to be eligible for support. If a young person’s needs are not eligible for adult services, the LA must still give information and advice about what other support the young person can access.
If the LA will meet the young person’s needs after they have turned 18, the LA must create a Care and Support plan and produce a personal budget.
A young person, or someone acting on their behalf, has the right to request a transition assessment. The LA must consider whether the young person is likely to need care and support after they have turned 18 and if it would be of ‘significant benefit’ for an assessment to be carried out.
A young person with mental capacity must agree to the assessment. Where a young person lacks mental capacity to agree, the LA must consider whether an assessment is in their best interests. Everyone has the right to refuse a transition assessment, however the LA must carry out an assessment if it suspects that a child is at risk of abuse or neglect.
LAs have a duty to provide an independent advocate to help young people take part in the transition assessment if the young person would experience difficulty in understanding the information or in communicating their views, and if no one else can act on their behalf.
At the right time for the young person and at a point when the LA can have a good idea of what the young person’s needs for care or support will be after they turn 18. There is no set age. Transition assessments should take place when it is most appropriate for the individual young person and their family.
For young people with SEN who have an EHCP the transition assessment should be carried out within the annual EHCP review process.
LAs should not carry out the transition assessment at times when it would cause disruption in a young person and their family’s life.
If the LA are proceeding with a transition assessment and you think it might cause disruption to a young person’s life, it is important you contact a Special Educational Needs solicitor.
The Annual EHCP Review should explore the young person’s aspirations and abilities, what they want to do when they leave post-16 education or training, and the support they will need to achieve ambitious outcomes that will prepare them for adulthood.
This Annual Review should include transition planning to support preparation for higher education or employment, independent living, maintaining good health in adult life and participation in society.
The LA should also look at your needs as a parent carer as part of transition planning. They should consider the impact of your child’s changing circumstances on you and what support the LA could provide. For example, whether you as a parent carer are willing and able to continue caring for your child after they turn 18 and whether you work, are in education or training, or if you wish to be.
Parents of disabled children who have continued to work while their child was at school sometimes have to give up paid work when the child leaves full time education because of gaps in provision. This can impact on their own wellbeing and the family finances. The LA should take a whole family approach to care planning and look at support for parent carers which might enable them to stay in paid work.
If the LA has identified that a parent carer has needs which could be met by adult services, the adult carer must receive a support plan and a personal budget. There will be a financial assessment to determine whether they need to contribute to the cost of the support.
If the young person is eligible for adult services, the LA should provide an indicative Personal Budget so that the young person has an idea of how much their care and support will cost. Young people with an EHCP may already have a Personal Budget or they may consider the transition to adult services a good time to start receiving their Personal Budget as a direct payment. There will be a financial assessment to determine whether they need to contribute to the cost of the support.
After compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16), young people have the right to make their own decisions and requests relating to their EHCP (e.g. to request an EHC needs assessment, to request a particular school placement and to appeal to the SEND Tribunal).
The LA, schools, colleges, health services and other agencies should continue to involve parents in discussions about the young person’s future, but the young person should be supported to express their views and the final decision rests with them.
The young person can still ask parents, family members or friends to support them or act on their behalf, e.g. by corresponding on their behalf, attending meetings, and helping them to make decisions, and LAs should be flexible about accommodating these arrangements.
For young people with an EHCP who are due to soon finish their education or training, the LA should use the Annual Review which takes place before ceasing the EHCP to agree the support and next steps to help the young person to access services once they have left education.
Some young people will be moving into employment or going on to higher education. Others will need ongoing health and social care support and may be best supported by community health and adult social care services, alongside learning opportunities in the adult skills sector.
The transition from education or training should be planned with clear timeframes and responsibilities so that the young person knows what to expect when their EHCP ceases. During the planning process, the LA continues to have a responsibility to maintain the EHCP as long as the young person needs it and is still in education or training.
The LA’s children’s services should make a referral to the CCG for an adult NHS Continuing Health Care (NHS CHC) screening when your child is 16, and there should be a decision in principle at age 17 so that a package of care can be in place by age 18.
A young person who has been receiving NHS Children’s Continuing Care should continue to be eligible for a package of adult NHS CHC when they turn 18, unless assessed as no longer having a primary health care need. In this case, they should be advised that they are not eligible and of their right to request an independent review and mediation. The CCG should continue to take part in the transition process to make sure there is an appropriate transfer of responsibilities, including considering if it should be commissioning, funding or providing services towards a joint package of care with the LA.
If you or your family require specialist Education Law advice which may include an assessment of health and care needs for anyone under the age of 25, contact Sara on 01273 609911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how our team of SEN solicitors can help.