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Transitioning into Adulthood: Considerations for Parents of Children with SEN & Disabilities

Introduction


As a child with special educational needs or disabilities approaches the age of 18, it marks a significant milestone in their life. The transition into adulthood brings about new legal, financial, and practical considerations for both the individual and their parents. There are several important factors that parents need to address to ensure a smooth and supportive transition for their child. In this blog post, we will explore key considerations parents should keep in mind as their child approaches the age of 18.


1. Understanding Changes in Legal Status


When a child turns 18, they are considered a legal adult in the UK. This shift in legal status brings with it changes in decision-making rights and responsibilities. Parents should be aware that they may need to put mechanisms in place to enable them to continue making decisions on behalf of their child before they reach 18, particularly if their child lacks mental capacity.


2. Assessing Mental Capacity


Determining mental capacity is crucial as the child reaches adulthood. Parents should consult healthcare professionals and legal experts to assess their child's mental capacity. If the child lacks capacity, parents may need to apply for deputyship through the Court of Protection to make decisions related to their child's personal welfare and finances. It should be noted that the court are unlikely to approve a deputyship for health unless there are compelling reasons to do so. Given the procedure is costly and lengthy, getting the right advice at the beginning of the process is paramount. If the child does have mental capacity, a lasting power of attorney may be more appropriate to assist them with their financial affairs.


3. Reviewing Benefits and Entitlements


Parents should review their child's entitlements to benefits and support services as they transition into adulthood. Some benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), may need to be replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) once the child turns 16. Understanding the changes in eligibility criteria and application processes is vital to ensure the child continues to receive the appropriate financial support. As a parent you can be an appointee of your young person’s benefits without the need for a financial deputyship order.


4. Exploring Education and Employment Opportunities


As your child approaches adulthood, parents should explore education and employment options that align with your child's abilities and aspirations. Transition planning should involve collaboration with schools, colleges, vocational training providers, and disability employment services to identify suitable opportunities for further education, training, or supported employment. An Education Health and Care Plan can be utilised to fund additional educational opportunities until your child is 25 years old.


5. Establishing Support Networks


Parents should proactively seek out and establish support networks for their child as they enter adulthood. This includes connecting with local support groups, disability organisations, and social care services that can provide guidance, information, and emotional support. Engaging with these networks can help parents navigate the challenges of the transition period and access available resources.


6. Financial Planning and Benefits Advice


Parents should seek advice from financial experts to plan for their child's financial future. This may involve setting up a trust or exploring other means of managing assets and inheritance. Consulting a financial advisor can ensure that parents make informed decisions that protect their child's financial well-being and eligibility for means-tested benefits.


7. Healthcare and Medical Transition


Parents should work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure a smooth transition in medical care. This involves understanding the transfer of care from paediatric to adult services, ensuring continuity of treatment and medication, and accessing appropriate specialist support services for adults with specific disabilities or medical conditions.


Conclusion


The transition from childhood to adulthood can be a complex and challenging time for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities. By considering these important factors and seeking professional advice and support, parents can effectively navigate the legal, financial, educational, and healthcare aspects of the transition process. Collaboration with relevant professionals, organisations, and support networks can ensure a successful and empowering transition, providing the foundation for a fulfilling and independent adulthood for their child.


If you need any further information or support, get in touch today.




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