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Preparing for Adulthood

As your child grows into a young person your role as a parent changes. You may have made decisions on their behalf in the past, whereas now they will be encouraged to form and share their own views. They will need to think about their goals and ambitions and what they want to achieve in the future.

The term Preparing for Adulthood is used to describe the process of moving from childhood into adulthood. It takes place when a young person moves from Children’s Services to Adult Services, or when young people start to think about what they want to do as an adult. This usually happens between the ages of 14 and 25. 

When does preparing for adulthood (PfA) start?

Ideally, as early as possible. Although as a parent it might seem strange to be thinking about your child’s adult life when they’re still in primary school, it’s worth keeping it in mind. 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. And all that support over the years builds into small stepping-stones on the journey to adulthood.

Guidance on the law says that discussions about long term goals should start early – ideally well before year 9. If your child has an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, the review meeting each year should include a focus on preparing for adulthood from year 9 onwards. A young person’s EHC plan should grow and evolve as they learn new skills and achieve outcomes (goals). The outcomes should be ‘ambitious and stretching’.

The law says children and young people can access information, advice and support separately from their parents. This must be impartial, confidential and free.

What should you plan for?

These are the main things to think about when preparing for adulthood.

Education and training after leaving school

You can find out about colleges in your area and what they offer through Southend's Local Offer. You can also visit college websites and go to their open days. Colleges are happy to talk to students and parents about the courses they offer and the support they can give. The information in your young person’s school plan or EHC plan will help with these discussions. It’s a good idea to ask about work experience opportunities too.

Apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships may also be available.

Post 19 higher education and or employment

Some students with special educational needs will go on to study at university. EHC plans end when a young person goes on to higher education such as a degree course, but the information that’s in them can still help universities to support their needs. Your young person will need to think about how they’re going to prepare for work, where they will work or where their future income will come from.

Independent living

Many young people with special educational needs 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 they 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 healthy

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 on-going health plan with the professionals they see already like an OT, 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 (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.

We also have a page for young people about Preparing for Adulthood, with more useful links and resources.